This article explores the applicability of democratic functionalism as a theoretical framework explaining mechanisms of European Union (EU) politicization during immigration crises. Since most existing studies on the politicization of EU crisis situations focus on the Euro crisis, it is unclear if and how the politicization of EU immigration crises differs. Drawing on a 2011 crisis with legislative implications for the free movement of people in the Schengen Area, the article illustrates that immigration crises are politicized along exclusionary identities rather than along pro-/anti-European lines—as expected by democratic functionalism. Moreover, unlike in the Euro crisis, the 2011 case illustrates how the media can be instrumentalized by governments during immigration crises, with little political mobilization from the public. This case is relevant given the widespread politicization of the 2015 refugee crisis, which conversely attracted close media attention and caused serious public concern. As it stands, democratic functionalism is shown to lack a conceptualization of how much and for how long an issue needs to be contested in the European public sphere for the mechanisms of EU politicization described by the theory to hold.
Maricut-Akbik, Adina. 2018. “EU Politicization beyond the Euro Crisis: Immigration Crises and the Politicization of Free Movement of People.” Comparative European Politics.