Rethinking solidarity in European asylum law : A critical reading of the key concept in contemporary refugee policy

Abstract: It is easy to get carried away with the rhetoric of solidarity. Rethinking solidarity aims to problematize the way that solidarity has been conceptualized and applied as a governing principle of EU asylum law and policy, in particular as a response to the 2015–2016 ‘refugee crisis’. Navigating through a family of ideas – from Aristotle’s philia, Christian agape, and Roman law to French solidarism, and European unity – Rethinking solidarity claims that there is an inherent dichotomy in the way the concept has been put to use rhetorically. It contends that, despite the fact that solidarity is coupled with a language of fairness, it is this antagonistic core of the concept that has been instrumentalized in the context of European asylum policy. Rethinking solidarity in refugee law thus requires not only more responsibility sharing amongst states but – most importantly – an understanding of and attendance to the varying visions of community each actor brings to the table when invoking solidarity.

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