Sevgi Temizisler successfully defends PhD thesis

We are pleased to announce that on 21 June 2021, Sevgi Temizisler successfully defended her PhD thesis on politicization of EU migration policies and its effect on European integration. The PhD defence started with a welcome note by the Chair, Prof. Ilke Adam (Brussels School of Governance). Sevgi’s supervisor were Prof. Trisha Meyer and Prof. Jamal Shahin. Sevgi’s PhD presentation was followed by questions from jury which consisted of the following members: Prof. Pieter de Wilde (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Prof. Katjana Gattermann (University of Amsterdam), Prof Jonas Lefevere (Brussels School of Governance), VUB and Prof. Florian Trauner (Brussels School of Governance, VUB). Due to current circumstances, the PhD defence took place online. The Brussels School of Governance would like to congratulate Dr Sevgi Temizisler on this achievement! Below you can read more about her PhD thesis.


The academic literature on European integration pays particular attention to the phenomenon of politicization. There is a consensus among scholars that politicization is an auxiliary input catalyzing differentiation and disintegration processes and impeding further integration. Yet, its ‘constraining’ effect on European integration might deviate from these assumptions, as the Eurozone crisis showed. Thus, the generalisability of much published research on this issue is problematic. This tendency to concentrate on the ‘constraining’ effect has led to a substantial gap regarding the broader analysis of politicization in different contexts and frames. This thesis aims to explore the changing nature of politicization in diverse contexts (through the intermediating factors under opportunity structures) and frames (trajectories) and its impact on various outcomes. A theoretical framework for assessing politicization in terms of opportunity structures and trajectories is presented for this purpose.

The empirical part of this thesis investigates the extent to which politicization of EU migration-related policies influences European integration, i.e., consequences of disintegration, differentiation, and status quo. Data were analyzed through claims-making analysis (Koopmans and Statham, 1999). Three case studies were examined: 1) The UK, 2) Denmark, and 3) Germany.

It is argued that politicization stems from an appropriate combination of intermediating factors, and its consequences change in line with its framing. In this regard, politicization remains limited, and no challenge to European integration is expected when migration-related issues are pictured as foreign problems in the remote conflict trajectory (as in the German case). On the other hand, domestic publics tend to reduce their support for the EU when migration-related issues are framed in the international conflict trajectory, i.e., as a conflict between their countries and the EU or ‘others’, such as other member states, migrants, and refugees (as in the British and Danish cases). Concerning the domestic conflict trajectory, this study shows that migration-related issues were discussed by large segments of the society with high polarization in domestic arenas during the refugee crisis in this framing. However, since the migration debates were not intensified in this trajectory in the case studies, no inference can be made with respect to its impact on European integration.