Vice-chairman of Hungary’s Fidesz Lajos Kosa said that following the Dublin regulation countries like France, Germany, Switzerland could return 160,000-200,000 people to Hungary. I know it is hard to comment on the numbers and it is pretty clear that Mr. Kosa is using it for political goals, but in general, with the migration wave we are facing, would you say that also the pressure on the Dublin regulation system will be increased? Read few comments.
Steve Peers, Professor, School of Law, University of Essex
The increase in numbers crossing the Mediterranean will likely mean that more asylum-seekers are sent back using the Dublin Regulation. But that will only affect Mediterranean states like Greece, Italy and Malta, not Hungary. The Dublin Regulation is mainly relevant to Hungary as regards asylum-seekers coming from places like Kosovo. The Commission’s recent report on Schengen mentions an increase in the numbers of people crossing from the Western Balkans, but says that number was being cut sharply by the end. There were 55,000 people in a in a 5-month period; I don’t know where the much higher figure of up to 200,000 comes from.
The Dublin rules say that where the asylum-seeker has crossed a border without authorisation, the responsibility of the first country they entered ends 12 months after they crossed that border. Since well under 100,000 people have used the Western Balkans route in the last year, according to the Schengen statistics, there is no way that Dublin could be used to send 160,000 people back to Hungary.
Furthermore the Eurostat statistics show about 44,000 asylum applications in Hungary during the year 2014. So again it’s hard to get anywhere near 160,000 people.
Lorenzo Nannetti, International Affairs Analyst
Yes, he’s using that for political goals, but the Dublin regulation is really an issue, and yes there will be increased pressure to change it. I know Italy is working in that direction, and others as well.
Some countries, like Italy, have officers “turn their heads away” – meaning they don’t take migrants fingerprints and let them cross North. This is causing a rift between some countries accusing each other and some of these, like Austria, are controlling borders again against this.
The whole issue is, unfortunately, a testament of EU fragmentation in key issues, where everyone tries to protect its own interests but doing so undermines EU unity.
Giacomo Orsini, Research Student, Department of Sociology, University of Essex
Normally EU member states’ governments know the exact number of refugees who fled the country. In fact, if any refugee left the country and risk being sent back to Hungary from any other EU member state, that is because his/her fingerprints are in the SIS – Schengen Information System – as they were taken in Hungary. So, the government should have an exact figure of how many refugees/asylum seekers have been registered. On the other hand, if they were granted refugee status in Hungary, technically the state should take care of him/her providing basic housing an assistance. In other words, institutions should be aware of whether or not a refugee is in the country. Than, by combining these two data, one has the exact figures.
As for the eventual increased pressure on the Dublin System, I guess that once more the political strategy is that of diverting public opinion away from the real issues at stake. I’m not sure about the Hungarian case, but I suppose it to be somehow similar to all other EU southern/border member states in terms of insufficient services provided to refugees – despite the quite substantial financial assistance they receive within the frame of the Refugee Fund of the EU Commission, and the international obligations to grant refugees’ fundamental rights. Yet, no political force in any of these countries tells the truth about the actual distribution of refugees in Europe. Northern European countries use to host and – more or less – adequately assist a much greater number of refugees than southern – such as Italy, Spain or Greece – or border – such as Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, … – member states, both in relative and absolute terms. Given these empirical evaluations, there is clearly no possibility for border/southern countries to negotiate at the EU level, as far as northern countries will always have the upper hand. If the Hungarian case can be somehow equated to the Italian and Maltese cases I know better, than I’d say that border countries are playing more with their corresponding national public opinions, rather than with ministries of the rest of the EU. They know that before they reach a situation somehow comparable to the one managed by Northern Member States, they will have no voice for negotiating.