Martti Koskenniemi, 9 years ago, wrote that sovereignty “articulates the hope of experiencing the thrill of having one’s life in one’s own hands.” Yet, the recent 'backlash' against liberal ideas and institutions of global governance has triggered a vivid discussion among various experts and scholars regarding the phenomenon of 'populist sovereignism' its causes and dynamics. Under this framework, the paper aims to explore the effect of the challenging phenomenon of ‘populist sovereignism’ upon migration policies. In particular the paper will address first how ‘populist sovereignism’ appears to obtain a strong dynamic among states that stands between the statists and globalists understanding of sovereignty, as it has been reflected in their attitude towards the UN Global Compact on Migration. And second the paper will explore the role of the limited it is true, paradigms of ethical leadership as a counter compass of governance and normative resilience.
The paper investigates on the consequences of the solidarity crisis for the EU as a governance system. Relocation schemes tried to achieve intra-state solidarity across Member States in the aftermath of the 2015 crisis but did not prove to be successful. Against this background, the paper analyzes ‘measures’ adopted after the failure of relocation schemes, focusing in particular on administrative arrangements to counter secondary movements and ‘ad hoc’ temporary disembarkation schemes. The article shows that, while reforms of legislative instruments are not progressing, Member States and, to some extent, also EU institutions are going down the lane of ‘operational and informal arrangements’, which are ‘bricolage solutions’ to counter undesired effects of the status quo, while waiting for structural solutions that are necessary but not in sight.
The term sovereignism was studied within the context of researches on populism for long time. There is some truth in this intuition: sovereignism is always justified with the invocation of the will of the people or better the prioritization of the will of the people over any other moral concern. Such a neologism echoes those theories conceiving sovereignty as: a) a necessary feature of the idea of state and b) unavailable to state authorities. Unavailability refers here to the fact that state powers cannot decide voluntarily to renounce exercise sovereignty without endangering the very existence of the state. Thus, according to sovereignism claims, state powers have no other choice than protecting sovereignty.
Against this backdrop, the paper argues that sovereignist claims express a pre-constitutional idea of sovereignty – one that disregards the fact that constitutional states conceive sovereignty as a power exercised in constant dialogue with the international community.