Refugee quotas: How should/will relocation mechanism work?

The refugees quotas are just part of the discussion re refugee crisis, but at this moment probably the most visible one. But if countries will agreed on quotas, do you see any challenges related to relocation of refugees to various countries, basically how this mechanism should work? Read few comments.

Christian KaunertProfessor of International Politics, University of Dundee

Yes, I am also not sure exactly how this mechanism will work. It will certainly be a challenge to re-distribute refugees amongst the different EU countries, maybe sometimes towards countries where they did not want to go necessarily. However, it is also true that such distribution mechanisms already exist within countries. Germany, for instance, already distributes refugees amongst each of the 16 Laender and refugees do not get a choice which state in Germany they need to go to. It has worked very well so far. However, for this to work within the EU, it will mean that a completely harmonised EU asylum system is introduced. Otherwise, some refugees are worse off than others, which creates incentives to move around. In the end, such a system can only work in the long run within a harmonised EU framework.

Giacomo OrsiniResearch Student, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

You are right to highlight as quotas monopolize the discussion concerning the actual ‘refugees crisis’. As I already told you, I am not in favor of quota systems in general as far as they force real people with their own migratory projects, their relatives and/or friends here or there in Europe to do not make full use of their fundamental right of choosing how and WHERE they want to live their lives. The fact that the discussion concentrates on the quota issue becomes even more disturbing to me considering as, despite the overwhelming media and political attention, we are NOT witnessing any unusual phenomena (the Balkan route is one of the major routes for undocumented border crossing to enter the EU since more than a decade) nor the number of people is so exceptional or difficult to manage for the EU to justify such tensions. Again, politics and media management contributed misguiding public opinion, leaving little room for empiric-based analysis or grounded figures.
This is why we ended out focusing on whether to take this or that number of refugees per Member State, or whether the right approach is complete (and mostly symbolic, rather than actual) border closure as supported by – for instance – the Hungarian government, or the (again, only symbolic,rather than actual) German/Austrian open border approach. Reality is that Hungary should not have any problem allowing people to cross their border – as none of the people crossing it now has any intention to establish in Hungary. On the other hand, if Germany and Austria’s goal was really that of opening their borders they would allow people to apply for asylum in their consulates outside the EU (or directly in the refugees camps) and fly safely to Germany/Austria. As for today, the two countries are basically saying to people that they can come only if/after they succeed walking across several hostile countries and borders. Quotas is just one another face of the of this same pointless debate. How is it that the whole EU has troubles hosting a few hundreds of thousands of people, while Lebanon and/or Jordan have millions of Syrian refugees right now. This without considering that most refugees trying to find safety in Europe escape wars or regimes supported either directly or indirectly by European member states (think abotut Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq for instance) and their armies and the big and European arms corporation (to give you an example, 2013 and 2014 were record selling years for Italian weapons industries that sold most of arms in North Africa: these same industries sell to the EU most of its border surveillance technologies).
In conclusion, trying to answer your question(s), the quota system does not only make the public concentrating on something relatively irrelevant. Quotas are also inhumane and relatively difficult to implement in the long term – as soon or later individuals will find a way to get where they wanted to go. We are speaking of people – refugees – that have walked thousands of kilometers, crossing several borders to enter the EU (after having escaped conflicts and violence): it is not a quota system that will stop them. In my view, the best possible scenario is that a quotas will simply produce more illegality since people who decide to leave the country where they received asylum (and, let say, join their family in another EU member state) will become somehow ‘illegal’ in the new member state where they will try to establish themselves. Of course, by now, discussing of quotas is an easy way to do not decide anything, while dehumanizing refugees and create an emergency whose response – I bet – is going to be again bombings and war – as, it seems, it will soon happen in Syria.


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