Asylum

Over its two-year implementation ReSOMA will focus on three areas: asylum, migration and integration. At the beginning of each year, partners will identify 3 key policy topics per area based on the on-going debate at EU level and within Member States.

The identification follows a two-fold approach as it looks both at the current EU agenda (top-down) and the policy needs at local and national level that are not currently addressed at EU level (bottom-up).

Once the 9 topics have been identified, project partners will gather evidence on these topics by involving researchers, policymakers, and practitioners and engage them in several cycles of consultations that will enable them to connect with one another and will result in a number of publications.

Topics

The prevention of secondary movements is a key political issue in the reform of Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Distrust in the effectiveness of proposed measures is one of the reasons for the deadlock in negotiations beyond the issue of solidarity. 2016 Commision proposals include punitive measuressuch as restrictions to the freedom of movement and withdrawal of reception conditions for applicants who abscond and engage in secondary movements. European Parliament, however, in its Report on the Commission’s proposal states that “the provision of high quality reception conditions, at the same level throughout the EU will be the most important factor in preventing secondary movements”.

The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 2018, represents the international reference framework for planning and monitoring policy responses to address refugee situations in the future. The EU and its Member States are now confronted with the question of how GCR will be implemented both internally within the EU and externally with its global partners.

Over the past year, refusals by some EU Member States to disembark migrants rescued at sea have sparked mainly ad hoc responses on a “ship-by-ship” basis by a number of Member States in a purely ‘intergovernmental’ fashion, falling outside the EU legal framework and asylum acquis. A key issue is how to identify cooperating actors who handle SAR operations and design the criteria to allocate responsibility between them. 

Family reunification represents a safe and legal channel for beneficiaries of international protection to reunite with their separated family members. Family reunification is a crucial element to foster integration of beneficiaries of international protection in host societies and promote economic and social cohesion in the Member States. To this end, EU law recognises more favourable conditions to beneficiaries of international protection to apply for family reunification in comparison with ordinary third-country nationals. However, there are legal gaps and barriers which are in practice undermining the right to family reunification, in particular for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, humanitarian status holders and unaccompanied minors.

As a result of the large number of asylum seekers arriving in the EU during 2015 and 2016, the debate on the distribution of asylum responsibilities in the EU has gained relevance, leading to the introduction of several new measures. The hotspots approach, described in the 2015 European Agenda on Migration, involves coordinated operational support by the EU agencies (Frontex, EASO and Europol) to Member States faced with disproportionate migratory pressure, with the aim to help them swiftly identify, register and fingerprint migrants, and assist in the implementation of relocation and returns. Alongside operational support, an emergency relocation mechanism was adopted to support member states under pressure: specifically, in September 2015, the Council adopted two Decisions regarding the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other Member States to take place over 24 months from the adoption of the decisions. In 2016, the Commission launched an overall reform of the Common European Asylum System, which also includes a set of new measures related to responsibility-sharing. In particular, the Commission proposal on the reform of the Dublin system includes, among other things, the introduction of a permanent corrective allocation mechanism that would be activated automatically in cases where Member States would have to deal with a disproportionate number of asylum seekers. Moreover, the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum presented by the Commission in May 2016 takes stock of the hotspots’ experience by enhancing EASO’s mandate and resources, including operational support in the management of asylum applications.

The safe third country concept is based on the assumption that an applicant for international protection could have obtained it in another country and therefore the receiving state is entitled to reject responsibility for the protection claim. The safe third country concept is applied as a ground for declaring an application inadmissible and barring applicants from a full examination of the merits of their claim, as is the case for the “first country of asylum” concept, which covers refugees who have already obtained and can again avail themselves of protection in a third country. Member States’ practice shows considerable disparities in the way safe third country rules have been applied, with some adding to the list of countries they consider safe recently as reaction to the 2015/16 arrivals, while at the same time other Member States are becoming more reluctant to apply the concept. In this context, the proposals included in the reform of the Common European Asylum system initiated in 2016 include a set of new provisions regarding safe third country concepts. Specifically, a key provision of the proposed Regulation on asylum procedures is to make the application of safe third country (and first country of asylum) criteria mandatory, instead of leaving it at the discretion of the Member States as it is the case under the current Procedures Directive. Moreover, the Commission proposes to progressively move towards full harmonization in this area, by replacing national safe country lists with EU lists or designations within five years of entry into force of the Regulation.

Expert Interviews

Kris Pollet - Senior Legal and Policy Officer at European Council on Refugees and Exiles ( ECRE)

Monthly Expert Interview: The externalisation of EU Asylum Policy.

 

Jan Paul Brekke - Sociologist and Migration researcher at Norwegian Institute for Social Reserach

Monthly Expert Interview: The concept of Safe Third Country.

 

Albert Kraler- Senior researcher at International Centre for migration policy development- Vienna

Monthly Expert Interview: Impossibility of family reunion for beneficiaries of international protection.

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