EU Dublin Regulations Set to be Reformed and Now Seen as Unworkable
- By Oshin Shahiean of OTS Solicitors
A decision by two British judges last week clearly illustrated the farcical nature of the Dublin Regulations in the face of the biggest refugee crisis to hit Europe since the Second World War.
Judge Mark Ockelton and Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey ordered that three Syrian youths and an accompanying adult should immediately be brought to Britain to join their relatives. One of the youths has already entered Britain and has been reunited with his brother, thus escaping the “living hell” that is commonly known as ‘Jungle Camp’.
After fleeing Syria in September last year, the four had been languishing in Calais since October, where conditions are described as dangerous and squalid. All were deeply traumatised by their experience, with one suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and another from mental health problems.
The Home Office had attempted to reject the applications from all four Asylum seekers, on the grounds that the Dublin Regulations would only allow an Asylum seeker in Calais to join the family in Britain if they first applied for Asylum in France and a request for resettlement came directly from the French authorities.
In a judicial review hearing, lawyers for the Syrian refugees successfully argued that the Dublin Regulations were no longer working, leading the Court to accept that evidence of a written claim for Asylum in France was sufficient proof that they had initially sought safety there.
European Commission Plans to Scrap Dublin Regulations
Days before this ruling from the British court, it was announced that the European Commission plans to reform the rule that migrants must claim Asylum in the first EU member state they reach. This announcement has angered the British Government, who are keen supporters of the Dublin Regulations (officially known as Regulation (EU) No 604/2013). Why? Because since 2003 they have allowed the UK to deport more than 12,000 Asylum seekers to other countries within the EU.
Why Have the Dublin Regulations Failed?
Due to the sheer number of migrants seeking Asylum. When the original Dublin Convention came into force in 1990 (there have been two reforms since then), there was no hint of the refugee crisis that would hit Europe 25 years later. In 2015, more than a million refugees entered Europe, and in this morning’s papers, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls warned that Europe's migration crisis is putting the EU at grave risk.
However, even before the current humanitarian crises exploded, the Dublin Regulations were not strictly abided by. Well-informed migrants who wanted to settle in Northern European countries would refuse to register with Italian or Greek authorities in case they were sent back to these ports of entry.
Another reason for the failure of the system is that few countries bothered to send migrants back to their original port of entry due to the time commitment and expense of the exercise.
Finally, Angela Merkel’s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter Germany effectively bypassed the regulations completely.
What Changes will the Reforms Bring?
Although there are no details, it is likely that the overriding principle that Asylum-seekers can be returned to the first European country from which they entered the EU is likely to be abolished. Because most migrants enter the EU via Italy, Greece and Hungary, countries that can nigh afford to process tens of thousands of people every year, for them this will be welcome news.
Basing the new system on a relocation ‘quota’ among member states has been touted; however, Eastern European countries and the UK are likely to fight tooth and nail against any moves in this direction.
It is clear that the migrant crises is not going to abate in the near future, and the EU must somehow develop new, workable, fair policies and procedures to cope with the huge numbers of people fleeing from conflict zones. Is this asking the impossible? Probably. But in my opinion, the European Commission has no choice. It cannot continue to simply flounder around, offering up threats to non-compliant countries and developing piecemeal solutions as it has done over the last 18 months. By doing so, it is failing to keep faith with many of the EU’s founding objectives; namely, the protection of Human Rights, solidarity and respect amongst all people, and, perhaps most importantly, peace and security.
If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please call our London office on 0207 936 9960 to talk to one of our Immigration solicitors. OTS Solicitors has a strong reputation for being one of the best Immigration law firms in London and has years of experience managing all types of Immigration matters and judicial review cases. We look forward to hearing more about how we can assist you with your Immigration concerns.