Dublin Regulation and Asylum Seekers: a new reform proposal under discussion in the EU Council

May 10, 2018



The Dublin Regulation is an international and multilateral agreement, signed by the EU members in 2013 with the aim of determining the State competence for each asylum request presented in one of the Member States. It is formally known as “Regulation No.604/2013” and it comes out from a more general treaty, the Geneva Convention of 1951, addressing the Status of Refugees.

Some of the non-EU Countries, such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein made arrangements with the Union so that they now apply the same rules of the Regulation in their national territory.

The main goal of the agreement is to prevent an asylum seeker from submitting an application in more than one Member State, since this would lead to an orbiting cycle of asylum seekers, who are shuttled from a member state to another.



Regarding the rules currently in force, the country in which the asylum seeker first applies is responsible for the acceptance (or rejection) of the claim, and the applicant cannot restart this process in the jurisdiction of another Member State. This prevention is intended to avoid the asylum shopping, a practice put in place by those asylum seekers who wish to obtain asylum from “generous” countries in terms of benefits, such as Germany and Sweden, compared to countries that are not considered asylum-seeker friendly, such as Austria and Hungary.



The actual reform proposal, discussed by the European Union Council in these days, has a clear rift in the positions. On one side there’s the Visegrad Group, the Central European alliance between Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia which is very committed not to allow anything like intra-EU redistribution of asylum seekers. On the other side, stand Mediterranean Countries, with Italy and Greece on top, who fight for a redistribution of the responsibilities across the EU Member States, with the goal of avoiding an increase in their own responsibility.

The new proposal has been made by the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, Member of the EU Council, after a technical work with the participation of the 28 Member States, in order to find the right equilibrium between the two factions. A joint document has been recently signed by Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta in order to ask that a State’s stable responsibility for immigrants, actually scheduled for 12 to 18 months, will not be extended to 10 years, as the proposal expects, but it will be extended to just 2 years, a compromise solution.



However, Northern European Countries rejected the proposal, highlighting their recent difficulties in facing thousands of new asylum applications. In fact, they observed that the EU entry procedures for migrants in Italy and Greece, after 12-18 months, are usually not yet complete, so that the asylum seekers return in orbit. The actual agreement provides that, after the expiration of the application, the asylum seeker can ask to another EU Country. Northern European Countries, moreover, claim that the situation is now confused and transmits the wrong message, that the EU gives applicants the freedom of choice for the country in which request for asylum. The original proposal of the European Commission, which demanded permanent responsibility, is very far from that of Mediterranean Countries.

At least, the proxy of the reform envisages a proposal in terms of solidarity: a redistribution mechanism, based on quotas, that upgrades from a voluntary incentive to a mandatory basis, according to the gravity of the situation. Another important proposal regards the candidate nationalities for the redistribution among the States, which is supposed to be for everyone (no more only for Syrian and Eritrean) provided that the applicant has the possibility to have a recognised international protection.





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