11 September 2015

On the 10 September 2015, ECRE’s Asylum Information Database (AIDA) launched their annual report on the state of asylum in Europe. With the largest global displacement crisis since World War II continuing apace, an unprecedented number of people are fleeing war and persecution to undertake dangerous, life-threatening journeys to try to reach safety. Faced with what is predominantly a refugee crisis unravelling at Europe’s borders and within, from Kos to Szeged and from Traiskirchen to Calais, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and Europe’s approach to asylum, have come to a turning point.

The report from AIDA has provided a comprehensive analysis of the state of the Union’s asylum policy, finding it lacking in solidarity and consistency, leading to ECRE’s Secretary-General Michael Diedring renewing his call for relocation, safe and legal channels to access Europe, resettlement, and long-term solutions in order to solve the refugee crisis.

Joined by experts from Forum Réfugiés-Cosi, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and the Swiss Refugee Council, the launch saw appeals made for real responsibility-sharing across Europe, and critiques of a European system that has turned its back on refugees, or erected fences or other impediments to a humane reception. This system has caused further suffering to asylum seekers as they attempt risky routes, with a record 2,800 people dying or missing in the Mediterranean in 2015 alone.

While welcoming the EU Commission’s proposals to increase the number of people to be relocated from Italy, Greece, and Hungary to 160,000, ECRE’s Kris Pollet said that to be successful, this must be a ‘swift and flexible process which takes into account asylum seekers’ preferences and ties to specific Member States as far as possible’.  Equally, the proposed use of a common ‘safe country of origin’ list was questioned, as refugee status determination processes often reveal that asylum seekers coming from ‘safe countries of origin’ have international protection needs, such as in the case of Turkey, where 23.1% of Turkish asylum seekers were granted protection in the EU in 2014. The report warns that such a list may run the risk of a ‘race to the bottom’ in protection standards by standardising presumptions of safety in the name of convergence. Tweet this

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 September 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.