Keywords: Hotspot System; EU Policies on Migration and Asylum; Lampedusa; Categorization; Right to Asylum.
This contribution aims to shed light on the specific mechanism of migrant categorization implemented by the so-called «Hotspot approach», which was launched by the "EU Agenda on Migration" in May 2015. This approach is here envisaged as a response to the current changes in the composition of migration towards Europe. Provisions contained in EU and Italian policy documents are compared with concrete practices enacted on the ground by investigating two case studies: the initial opening of the Hotspot at Milo, in Trapani, and the first months of functioning of the Hotspot on Lampedusa. The empirical research covers the period between the last months of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. The short-term consequences of the hotspot system have been the creation of thousands of irregularized migrants within the Italian territory, and a massive violation of the principles grounding the right to asylum. These consequences were so blatant to oblige Italian authorities to interrupt some of these practices. Yet, in the long term, this experimental phase can be regarded as a laboratory for the subsequent development of EU policies on migration and asylum.