Can the new refugee relocation system work? Perils in the Dublin logic and flawed reception conditions in the EU

Thursday, 1 October 2015
CEPS Policy Briefs
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Authors: Sergio Carrera and Elspeth Guild

Series: CEPS Policy Brief No. 334   No of pp: 21

This Policy Brief argues that the newly adopted EU temporary relocation (quota) system constitutes a welcome yet timid step forward in addressing a number of central controversies of the current refugee debate in Europe. Two main challenges affect the effective operability of the new EU relocation model.

First, EU member states’ asylum systems show profound (on-the-ground) weaknesses in reception conditions and judicial/administrative capacities. These prevent a fair and humane processing of asylum applications. EU states are not implementing the common standards enshrined in the EU reception conditions Directive 2013/33.

Second, the new relocation system constitutes a move away from the much-criticised Dublin system, but it is still anchored to its premises. The Dublin system is driven by an unfair and unsustainable rule according to which the first EU state of entry is responsible for assessing asylum applications. It does not properly consider the personal, private and family circumstances or the preferences of asylum-seekers.

Policy Recommendations

In order to respond to these challenges, the Policy Brief offers the following policy recommendations:

  1. The EU should strengthen and better enforce member states’ reception capacities, abolish the current Dublin system rule of allocation of responsibility and expand the new relocation distribution criteria to include in the assessment (as far as possible) asylum-seekers’ preferences and personal/family links to EU member states.
  2. EU member countries should give priority to boosting their current and forward-looking administrative and judicial capacities to deal and welcome asylum applications.
  3. The EU should establish a permanent common European border and asylum service focused on ensuring the highest standards through stable operational support, institutional solidarity across all EU external borders and the practical implementation of new distribution relocation criteria.

Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs Programme at CEPS. Elspeth Guild is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Jean Monnet Professor ad personam of European immigration law at Radboud University Nijmegen and Queen Mary, University of London.