Make the EU's asylum rules work better, rather than re-inventing the wheel

06-Apr-2016 @ 15:30

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The European Commission has today put forward two possible visions for the future of the EU's Dublin regulation, which determines where asylum applications should be made.

One vision is a complete overhaul of the system which would see automatic and mandatory redistribution of applicants around the EU. The other broadly fits with a proposal put forward by Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Timothy Kirkhope MEP which says that the principles underpinning Dublin should remain the same, with better implementation and assistance for those countries on the front line.

The European Commission has also published a set of broadly welcome proposals aimed at preventing so-called 'Secondary Movement' of refugees and migrants within the EU.

Mr Kirkhope, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "The Dublin system stopped working because countries stopped applying the rules. The European Commission has proposed one way forward that is viable and another which is aspirational but frankly not going to happen. We need to show that we have learnt from the mistakes made by forcing through the emergency relocation mechanism.

"An effective Dublin system needs to ensure the integrity of the Schengen area whilst supporting the work of Frontex to deliver a stronger external border control.Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel we need the system that we have in place to work more effectively, with clarity on states' responsibilities and support for those facing the largest number of arrivals.

"Between now and the detailed proposals from the European Commission we need to see governments and parliaments making it clear that a better implementation of the current system is the only option available to stabilise the crisis."

Regarding the proposals aimed at preventing Secondary Movement, Mr Kirkhope added: "The commission is right to send out a strong signal that asylum seekers cannot move freely across Europe. Refuge is intended to protect people from persecution and death, and the system will never work if refugees keep moving back to the one or two countries of their choice. All EU countries are considered safe and so any EU country participating in the scheme is a suitable place for a genuine refugee to take shelter."


Mr Kirkhope is the European Parliament's rapporteur on the permanent relocation mechanism and on proposals to enhance the EU Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS). Earlier this year he sent a list of proposals for reform of the Dublin Regulation to the European Commission, much of which has formed the basis of today's first option put forward in their Communication.

The key elements of Mr Kirkhope's proposals are:

- That the Dublin Regulation should retain the same basic principles but should learn from the previous mistakes of the EU emergency relocation system, which has not been successful.

- At its core, Dublin should still see asylum decisions remain with the country of entry into the EU, and the Dublin Regulation should make clear who is responsible for processing of an application to avoid states pushing migrants around the continent.

- However, should Dublin returns to a particular EU state be suspended, other states should be able to return people to the nearest functioning ‘hotspot’ to their original point of entry. This will discourage further movement and states encouraging asylum seekers and migrants to travel onward within the EU.

- The European Commission should ensure that countries are carrying out these returns, and that asylum seekers are given decent conditions, swift fingerprinting and processing upon arrival.

- The Dublin Regulation and any relocation mechanism should be kept as separate instruments, particularly given the lack of success of the temporary relocation mechanism. An emergency relocation mechanism could apply, but countries could have the option participate in the direct resettlement programme of the UNHCR.

- Any EU country that wishes to suspend Dublin returns to them should undergo a European Commission impact assessment. If they suspend returns they should have their Schengen membership suspended or should accept assistance from the EU to protect the border.

- If there is evidence that an asylum seeker or migrant has been in another EU Member State for some time without claiming asylum, the person should be returned to that state for processing, in order to prevent secondary movement or states seeking to push asylum seekers to other EU countries.

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