5 February 2016

MPI Europe has written a report on strengthening asylum reception capacity at national and EU level, investigating the tension between guaranteeing good conditions and meeting high levels of demand. It suggests that there are three key elements for a successful reception system which may often be in conflict: efficient management of resources, flexibility, and quality standards adhered to across the European Union.

The report notes that current flows of asylum seekers to the EU are at the highest level since the 1990s which has placed significant strain on national reception facilities. Pressure in the reception capacity of one country can undermine efforts to promote solidarity at EU level due to onward movement by new arrivals, exploitation by smugglers and attempts to deflect migrants and refugees, such as by border closures.

The author puts forward the case for greater cooperation across Europe, necessary due to constantly changing migration routes which make it difficult to predict arrivals, with neighbouring countries sometimes facing divergent trends, such as increase in asylum applications of 60% in Austria alongside a decrease of 25% in Slovenia in 2014. Given the harmonised obligations set out in the European Reception Conditions Directive to meet minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, facilitation at European level is critical in improving efficiency, but has failed so far due to a lack of mutual trust among Member States caused partly by dysfunctional reception systems in some countries. He makes a number of recommendations on how to strengthen the quality, flexibility and cost-efficiency of reception systems. Steps to improve cooperation and coordination among member States and invest in improving management systems and preparedness are necessary to restore confidence in asylum systems within and between countries.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 5 February 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.