Research Programme


Migration is perhaps the hottest topic in European politics today. After years of ‘refugee crisis’ and anti-immigrant populist backlash, it has become a key area of academic research, mostly revolving around the interface between migration and populism. This is certainly a valuable agenda and one which debate can and still should build upon. In its Migration research programme, however, the 89 Initiative is concerned with exploring how decision making dynamics shape migration policy. Our research project specifically revolves around current EU legislation on asylum policies, especially in the areas of status determination and content of status (Qualification Regulation), asylum procedures (Asylum Procedures Regulation) and reception conditions for asylum-seekers (Reception Conditions Directive). It tries to understand why the EU is struggling to adopt these policies and what the positions of individual Member States are. Moreover, it assesses whether policies currently under discussion are more liberal or more restrictive than previous policies in the same areas and what the role of politicisation (populism) is in this regard.

Dr. Natascha Zaun

Research Director

Dr. Natascha Zaun is an Assistant Professor in Migration Studies at the LSE’s European Institute. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Bremen. Before coming to the LSE, Natascha was a Junior Research Fellow in global refugee policies at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Prior to that she was a researcher and lecturer in the area of International Relations at the University of Mainz and a researcher at the Collaborative Research Centre 597 ‘Transformations of the State’ at the University of Bremen, working in a project on ‘Border Regime Change and the Mobility of Persons’ (headed by Prof. Steffen Mau). Natascha’s key areas of expertise cover European and global refugee, immigration and border policies and politics. In her PhD thesis she analysed EU decision-making on common asylum policies, finding that these policies only reflected the positions of Member States with a long-standing regulatory tradition in the field.



Charlotte Giauffret

Research Officer

Claudia Doldo

Research Officer

Nele Anders

Research Officer

Stella Pitsillidou

Research Officer

Europe 2025

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