ECRE has published Comments on the Commission proposal to recast the Dublin Regulation, tabled by the Commission on 4 May 2016 as part of the first package of reforms of the Common European Asylum Systems (CEAS). This paper follows ECRE’s earlier positions on the Eurodac reform and the creation of an EU Asylum Agency.

This long awaited and heavily debated proposal envisages the fourth version of the EU’s mechanism for allocating responsibility for asylum seekers between Member States (“Dublin IV” Regulation). ECRE identifies two characteristics of serious concern in the Dublin IV proposal. On the one hand, far from rethinking the fundamentally flawed principles underpinning the EU’s mechanism for allocating responsibility for asylum applications across the continent, the proposal reinforces many of the mechanism’s flawed premises. With some limited exceptions such as broader family reunification possibilities through the expansion of the definition of family members, asylum seekers face stricter and unfair rules, likely to further undermine their trust in the CEAS.

These measures include far-reaching sanctions when people move between Member States, unlawful limitations on applicants’ right to an effective remedy, and a high likelihood of having their claim rejected before ever reaching the Dublin system. The latter stems from the proposal’s aim to require Member States of first entry to assess whether an asylum seeker can be transferred to a “safe third country” or a “first country of asylum”, or be subjected to accelerated examination for “safe country of origin” or security reasons, before triggering the Dublin Regulation.

Member States, for their part, would see their distribution inequalities heavily exacerbated under the Dublin IV Regulation, as countries of first entry would be required to conduct admissibility and merit-related assessments before applying the Regulation. Given the deletion of existing clauses ceasing a Member State’s responsibility after a lapse of time, these countries would face perpetual responsibility and have no means of relief from their obligation when a transferring country is not complying with time limits for transferring an applicant.

At the same time, the proposal only engages with measures of responsibility-sharing through a corrective allocation mechanism which is triggered at an unduly high threshold and raises a number of practical concerns for Member States and asylum seekers.

While providing detailed input on the various provisions of the proposed recast, ECRE urges co-legislators to adopt a holistic, pragmatic review of the Dublin system, and to engage with deeper, bolder reform options going beyond the proposals made by the Commission. Not least in relation to measures of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, the proposal regrettably presents an insufficient mechanism and leaves inequality and unfairness as key tenets of the EU’s system for distribution of responsibility. To generate understanding, trust and compliance – from both Member States and applicants – the Dublin system must be protective and fair to all parties involved in the asylum process.

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This article will appear in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 7 October 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.