1 October 2015

On 29 September, in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution that called for the urgent reform of the EU Dublin system which determines the country responsible for treating an asylum application.

Branding the current system ‘dysfunctional’, PACE recommended that the EU reforms the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) to ensure ‘equitable burden sharing’ among Member States, which would include compulsory allocation criteria while taking into account the prospects of integration and the needs and specific circumstances of asylum seekers themselves. The resolution warned, that without far-reaching reform, the entire CEAS may be placed in jeopardy due to the risk of States suspending or withdrawing from the system; a situation that PACE said would “cause chaos and confusion”.

PACE noted that the distribution of asylum applicants between States is extremely uneven, with 72% of all asylum applications in the EU processed by only five States in 2014. The resolution said this iniquity was exacerbated by Dublin transfers of asylum applicants, and that the implementation of the Dublin system has given rise to violations of asylum seekers’ human rights on a number of occasions. It added that the system in its current format was not efficient in achieving its basic aims, and the high human cost was accompanied by a high resource cost to the States complying with its “lengthy and complicated procedures”.

UNHCR’s Representative in Strasbourg Gert Westerveen, in conversation with ECRE, welcomed the adoption of the resolution, saying that “while the Dublin system ensured that there was always a country responsible for examining an asylum request, more is needed in the current situation, namely a system for distributing refugees fairly over EU countries.” He also drew attention to PACE’s notion of a ‘European refugee’, or the mutual recognition of positive asylum decisions coupled with increased freedom of movement within the EU, as “an especially interesting point to pursue”.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 2 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.