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pdf mise en ligne :09 06 2008 ( NEA say… n° 51 )

ASILE > Protection temporaire en cas d'afflux massif de personnes déplacées

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice an Home Affairs on 29th May 2008 has organized the Dublin Round Table.

The immigration and the asylum are specific problems of four times. The abolition of systematic border controls between the EU-States has given more advantages in order of free movement of persons; on the other side it has required the development of a common European policy for immigration, asylum and security.

Policy context 

For the EU-States it was very difficult to monitoring the migration flows and the asylum seekers. In particular, many asylum seekers passed from one European country to another before applying for asylum.
In this context, the European Union established in 1997 a flanking measure by creating a set of rules to determine which Member State in the Union will examine an application for asylum lodged by a third country national in one of the member States, know as the Dublin Convention. This was necessary to avoid situations where refugees were shuttled from one Member State to another, with none accepting responsibility, or to prevent multiple or simultaneous applications.
The Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999 has given new competences to the European Union in asylum, therefore it was necessary to trying to harmonise asylum procedures, because there were still differences in the kind of reception an asylum seeker.
The European Commission draw up a Community legislative proposal for examining asylum applications lodged in a Member State of the EU. Later, on 18th February 2003, the Council adopted the “Dublin Regulation” to replace “Dublin Convention”.
The "Dublin Regulation" determines the Member State responsible for processing an asylum claim and it aims to ensure that each claim is fairly examined by one Member State. It is linked to EURODAC, a database that stores the fingerprints of asylum seekers in Europe. This system will be able to control the so called “asylum shopping” and to avoid situations of “refuges in orbit”. Moreover the Regulation’s “sovereignty clause” allows a Member State receiving an application to assume responsibility, and its “humanitarian clause” allows Member States to unite families in certain circumstances.

Despite this mechanism, there are some problems about the efficiency of the system, therefore the European Commission (Report to the European Parliament and the Council, COM (2007) 299), later in 2008, is going to propose amendments to the Dublin Regulation for urgently needed reform. In order to discuss a future reform, on 29th May 2008, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice an Home Affairs has organized a Table round about the gaps and the alternatives of the Dublin system. 

In the discussion emerged some important elements: 

1. the system gives a disproportionate amount of responsibility towards Member States located at external border of the EU, and there are no real mechanism for providing these States support;
2. the system has failed to resolve the “refuges in orbit” phenomenon, while by disregarding the different level of treatment afforded asylum seekers by different Member States, it has perpetuated a dangerous secondary migration and multiple applications (know as “asylum shopping”) in Europe;
3. the obligation to fingerprint all illegal entrants at the EU external borders is not complied with by all the Member States.

The discussion has underlined the inconveniences the Dublin system imposes on refugees. The Dublin Regulation gives insufficient consideration to the interest of families, of children and other vulnerable group: 

1.The system doesn’t ensure the best interest of the child because often the unaccompanied minors disappear, during the transfer to another Member State.
2. In some countries, the asylum seekers don’t received legal assistance or help. Oft the asylum seekers are not informed about asylum procedure and their rights. Sometimes, the social conditions for asylum seekers of their claim for asylum are also unacceptable.

In view of a reform of the Dublin Regulation it is important that all cost associated with asylum processing should be paid out of a joint European fund, contributed to proportionately by Member States.

During the transfers the Member States have to guarantee high standards of quality, in particular to prevent vulnerable persons such as  torture victims, or those with health problems that may require specialised treatment. The determination of responsibility for the applications of children and other vulnerable people should follow a separate process that focused on their best interests and particular needs.

It’s also necessary, that the asylum seekers are being informed, in a language which they understand, about theirs rights, and on what procedures will follow and how they will proceed.

Respect to EURODAC database it is important to extend the access to the forces of order and to Europol, but for the safeguards concerning the protection of personal data, it’s necessary to guarantee a correct use of these information. 

In conclusion the Dublin system needs to be reformed in order to ensure the protection of asylum seekers and an equal distribution of responsibilities for EU-States.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the evaluation of the Dublin system, COM (2007) 299, 6 June 2007. 

► European Parliament, Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Draft Report on the evaluation of the Dublin system, 13 May 2008.

► ECRE, "Sharing Responsibility for Refugee Protection in Europe: Dublin Reconsidered", March 2008.


Sara Dienstbier
Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”