In the course of a process of integration lasting several decades, the institutions of the European Union have produced an abnormally large mass of legislation, whose aim has been to transform the area within the perimeter of the member states into a space of freedom, security and justice. Yet the progressive increase of functions attributed to the European Union has not triggered a proportional erosion in state competences. In particular in the area of immigration, instead of abdicating their traditional function of sovereignty, states appear to be entrenching it, like an exposed nerve on the surface of the European project. The aim of this essay is to place the legislative discipline in the field within the framework of the dialectic relationship between the European and the national levels, describing the main milestones in the process whereby the European Union has come to acquire its current competences in the field of immigration, border controls and the circulation of people. Reformulated in a sociological key, this historical legal reconstruction can be of use for illustrating the reasons why caution is advisable when considering the viewpoint that holds that this mass of legislation may contain the outlines - or even only the germ of the outlines - of a European migration policy.
Keywords: Immigration - Europe - Borders - Circulation - Rights