Who Bears Responsibility?: Models and Perspectives of European Refugee Policy

Written by | Monday, June 8th, 2015

Katharina Senge (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)

The incidents of refugees drowning while crossing the Mediterranean are becoming more and more common. At the same time, a political debate that is currently taking place ponders not only the need for greater European responsibility for the lives of the refugees. The decision-making powers in this area should be primarily delegated to the EU Member States, whereby a concrete political reform should only be one outcome of the negotiations. The crucial question primarily concerns the setting up of a system, which would distribute responsibility more equally among all the Member States.

The number of asylum seekers in the European Union has been increasing over the last three years. In the first quarter of 2014, the number of refugees rose by 23 percent as opposed to the same period of 2013. Most applications seek to apply for asylum in Germany, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The first great initiative in the area of common asylum policy was the operation Mare Nostrum thanks to which Europe has assumed supervision from Italy over the fate of the refugees. The politicians have also proposed the development of the idea of common European migration policy beyond the European asylum system. Also worth mentioning is the Dublin System on the basis of which the Member State controls and assesses individual applications and therefore is directly responsible for the entry of the migrant into the EU.

Even though the issue of refugees in the Mediterranean concerns mainly the southern states, the burden of the border control and the oversight of the refugees’ fates should be relegated and evenly distributed among all Member States, i.e. the northern as well as central European states. The solution of individual implications should go hand in hand with the common use of technical and financial instruments in the framework of common asylum policy. More points for the discussion include, for example, dealing with refugees once they successfully land on European shores, or the question of to what degree unsuccessful attempts should be prevented.

(The study can be downloaded here)

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