The Refugee Crisis in Focus: Towards Better Cooperation between Europe’s National Governments

Written by | Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Vít Novotný (Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies)

The Union is not capable of fulfilling its obligations within the framework of the common asylum policy, stemming from the provisions of the legal framework itself. Although the common asylum policy and the Dublin system (in short, the obligation of the Member States to return refugees to the EU country in which they first arrived) count on a coordinated approach of the EU28, in reality, the EU asylum system is failing as a result of an enormous influx of refugees streaming through the Balkans and the Mediterranean to Central and Western Europe.

The key to resolving the current critical situation lies in achieving a consensus within the European Council, which provides a platform for joint meetings of the highest representatives from the Member States, whose consensus is indispensable in the cases of such a strategic and political significance. Similarly, another indispensable mechanism appears to be also the redistribution of refugees among individual Member States, which essentially means the sharing of consequences of the refugee crisis based on the principle of solidarity. Member States that clearly do not follow the rules of the EU asylum policy could be sued before the European Court of Justice for the breach of the Treaty because until a new asylum system is created at European level, the current system (whose main pillar is embodied by the Dublin regulations) should be enforced. And, finally, it is important to streamline the exchange of information between Frontex, the agency for the protection of external borders, and the Europol and the Schengen Information System, both of whom ensure the protection of EU’s internal borders.

However, the EU’s efforts should not be limited only to the above-mentioned list of policies and measures because these merely aim to deal with the consequences of the crisis, not to tackle its root causes. The EU should make deals with non-EU transit countries about the re-admission of migrants. From a geopolitical perspective, it is crucial to intensify cooperation with Turkey, through whose territory a number of migration routes pass and which can, as a secular and relatively developed country, provide the refugees in its refugee camps a standard required by the international refugee law. Moreover, the author also proposes the possibility of setting up safe havens for refugees in source countries of migration (Syria, Libya), in which asylum applications could be tentatively processed and which could be, if necessary, protected by the armed forces of the EU Member States.

(The study can be downloaded here:

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