This paper examines how addressing asylum issues has come to represent a particular position in political processes in Europe relating to refugee representation. In representative terms, it draws attention to the way ‘illegality’ is produced and reproduced and represented through state sanctioned policies of exclusion, an erosion of democratic processes, and an ever extension of border control beyond national territory. Within such practices, the way asylum issues are constructed is questionable, allowing states to evade responsibility and strengthen border controls. Along with the use of force evident in border controls, the structures of engagement which exist at EU level are also questionable. Here I argue that the EU is ill equipped to deal with the geopolitical crisis in failing to act cooperatively, rendering any acceptable solution much more challenging.