EP Report: “What system of burden-sharing between Member States for the reception of asylum seekers?”

At the beginning of March, a 200+ page report assessing the cost of asylum seekers on EU member states was released by the European Parliament’s Directorate General for Internal Policies, Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

The report is entitled: “What system of burden-sharing between Member States for the reception of asylum seekers?”

Excerpts from the Executive Summary:

“Background –  [***] Moreover, although asylum figures today are higher than in the mid 1980s, the number of asylum applications has not been steadily increasing as many assume. … There has been increased concern in tackling irregular migration among the European Member States, which has led to an increasing focus on preventing irregular migrants from reaching the EU. Consequently, joint efforts at border management, under the auspices of FRONTEX, have exposed grey areas in the international protection regime. For example, the extent of States’ responsibilities towards asylum seekers rescued or intercepted in international waters has been subject to debate. Operation Nautilus in 2008 illustrated the difficulties Member States face in agreeing on who should be responsible for asylum seekers amongst irregular migrants intercepted at sea. Member States have also been hampered by the lack of an agreed protocol to assign responsibility for any asylum seekers amongst the irregular migrants.

Some Member States, notably Malta, have protested at the uneven distribution of asylum seekers between EU Member States, and their experiences of particular pressures resulting from their geographical situation. Linked to this, European parliamentarians, NGOs, some Member States and other stakeholders have repeatedly pointed out that the Dublin system allocates responsibility for asylum seekers without attempting to share it equitably. The pressures on EU border countries have been a particularly contentious part of this discussion, but the discussion is not limited to these. In the last six years, Sweden has for example received 40% of the 100,000 Iraqis who have claimed asylum in the EU8….

Aim of the study – The current study aims to provide information and evidence to inform the ongoing debates. This is largely based on three overarching questions:

• What are the asylum related costs borne by Member States?

• Which of these costs could be shared at European level?

• How could these costs be shared? [***]

Key Findings

• Overall refugee numbers in Europe are relatively low. In 2007 Europe only hosted 14 per cent of the world’s refugees or people in refugee-like situations. In 2007 about 220,000 asylum applications were received within the EU27, only just over half the 2001-02 peak of over 420,000 asylum seekers, and about a third of the peak of 1992. This is equivalent to less than one asylum seeker per 2200 European inhabitants.

• The total size of asylum spending reported by Member States is relatively low. The total size of direct spending by each Member State has generally not been more than the equivalent of 1/14th of the international aid target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income. At €4,160m EU wide, these total asylum-related costs to EU Member States in 2007 are less than what UK citizens spent on pets and pet food in the same year….

• Some countries face disproportionately high asylum costs, with the share of asylum spending in relation to GDP being 1000 times higher in some Member States (e.g. Malta) than others (e.g. Portugal) in 2007. When cost of living is taken into account, the differences remain large….

• If no additional responsibility sharing measures are introduced and current proposals are not implemented, there will continue to be a highly uneven distribution of asylum costs and pressures across Europe. This study shows that there are critical differences between Member States and the costs they carry for receiving asylum seekers….

• Only physical relocation of asylum seekers will make a significant contribution to a more equitable distribution of asylum costs across Member States. If this is to avoid generating significant human costs and additional costs to the Member States, it is crucial that this is based on a voluntary relocation of the asylum seeker….”

Click here for the full report.

Click here for EP Press Service article about the Report.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Malta, Mediterranean, Reports

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