Last week, the European Commission presented a proposal to reform the Dublin Regulation, namely the regulation that decides who is the Member State responsible for examining the request for international protection of an asylum seeker.
The aim of this reform would be, in the words of the Commission, to review the current Common European Asylum System in a way that ensures more equity, efficiency and sustainability compared to what the system currently provides for.
As mentioned in previous articles, the Dublin Regulation has always been the most criticised tool of this Common European Asylum System. The most criticised part is the basic principle that asylum seekers need to lodge their asylum request in the first country of arrival, obviously leaving the countries at the EU border with a very difficult task, especially in these challenging times.
Dublin has been declared “dead”, “clearly inadequate” and “obsolete” by several stakeholders, particularly in the last months. For these reasons, the expectations on a new system replacing the current one were very high and hopeful.
For more information on the Dublin Regulation, read “Plans to reform the Common European Asylum System and border management presented by the EC“
The European Commission did not go for a Revolution of the Asylum System
Unfortunately, the Commission went for the least revolutionary of the two options presented one month ago, namely the one that entails the preservation of the (“dead”, “clearly inadequate” and “obsolete”) Dublin criteria for the allocation of responsibility, but supplemented with a structural mechanism for emergency relocation and redistribution to be triggered in specific circumstances. Ideally, the “corrections” to the Dublin system will guarantee that no Member State is left alone with disproportionate pressure on its asylum system.
In practice, the new Dublin, or Dublin IV, introduces an obligation to apply for asylum in the Member State of first irregular entry, complemented by the new obligation for the Member State responsible for taking back the asylum seeker who lodged the application in that country.
The objective of these new obligations is clearly to prevent secondary movements and to simplify the procedures for sending back a migrant to those countries at the EU border from which he or she entered. This would be done independently of the conditions in which asylum seekers are sheltered or independently of the health and efficiency of the asylum system in the country of first arrival.
The Corrective Mechanism: How Many Migrant Crisis and Domestic Tensions It takes for a Country to Trigger It?
The corrective mechanism would be triggered only in cases where the number of applications in a Member State exceeded the 150% ofthe figure identified as a reference key, calculated on the basis of GDP and size of population. Therefore, when there is already a clear situation of emergency and stress.
In this case, the new applications would be allocated to Member States where the number of applications were at that moment less than the reference key, unless the latter disagreed. The latter would be then obliged to make a solidarity contribution of 250,000 euro per applicant to the first country.
How would the current system might provide for an efficient system to give shelter and protection to the thousands of migrants arriving in Europe is a mistery. In practice, the only achievement of this system would be to give a legal tool to northern countries to quickly send back applicants to border countries. It would not be illegitimate to suspect that the Commission decided to prepare a gift to Cameron, in view of the Referendum on Brexit.
Negotiations will be tough.