EU migratory challenge: Possible responses to the refugee crisis

Briefing 04-09-2015

With hundreds of thousands of people embarking on perilous journeys to reach the EU borders, the EU now faces an unprecedented migratory crisis. The following pages set out possible responses, some based on legislation already in force and others requiring a profound reform of the existing system. It is argued that the so-called Dublin system − defining the Member State responsible in individual cases for examining applications for international protection − has led to overburdening of Member States at the EU's southern external borders. Meanwhile diverging asylum standards across the EU have resulted in a great number of asylum-seekers travelling to Member States with higher reception standards. Therefore the solutions proposed centre, on the one hand, on harmonising national asylum standards and, on the other hand, on distributing asylum-seekers more evenly across the EU. With respect to illegal border crossings, recent EU policy documents have focused on addressing migrant smuggling through concerted action, including military operations. Moreover, in order to bring down the number of such crossings, legal entry channels to the EU could be proposed for persons in need of international protection. These include a possibility to trigger the so-called Temporary Protection Directive, as well as making use of 'humanitarian admissions' and 'humanitarian visas'. Any additional admissions create extra costs for Member States, however. One way to limit them is through private sponsorship of refugees as has been undertaken by Canada under the Refugee Sponsorship Program. On top of these concrete actions on EU territory, solutions are possible outside Europe through cooperation with third countries. The aim is to address the root causes of irregular migration, to counter and prevent migrant smuggling and trafficking, and to provide effective return, readmission and reintegration policies for those not qualifying for protection.