Austria sets an upper limit on how many asylum applications country will process each year. In general, could you shortly comment on this approach, would you say that such decision is in accordance with EU and international law or? Read few comments.
Steve Peers, Professor, School of Law, University of Essex
International law does not regulate this issue directly. EU law says that Member States must consider all applications for asylum at the border on the territory. There is no reference to ceilings on applications; implicitly the idea is ruled out. They can however insist that the merits of the application are considered by another State if the Dublin rules apply or if that other State is a ‘first country of asylum’ or ‘safe third country’ in accordance with EU law.
Matilde Ventrella, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Wolverhampton
The situation is quite problematic and there is not a straightforward answer. Member States have the legal obligation to host asylum seekers and assess their claims. In addition, the EU has adopted an hotspot approach to ensure that asylum seekers are easily identified at the borders and they are granted legal protection, when their claim is genuine. In September, the EU has adopted new rules which explicitly state that asylum seekers have to be transferred from countries of first arrival such as Greece and Italy to other European countries. Unfortunately, Member States are not complying with these new rules and they are restricting their borders. Some Member States have proposed to suspend Schengen and the Council has adopted a document on the suspension of Schengen. The suspension is feasible if the Schengen Border Code is amended. Conversely, if Member States want to abolish the Schengen Aquis completely, they will need to amend the EU Treaties. if this happens, we will assist to the start of the end of the European Union.
The problem is that there is no solidarity between Member States and if migrants do not make claims, Member States have the right to reject them. How is difficult to assess as Return Decision very often cannot be implemented because countries of origin are not prepared to accept their citizens back. If Schengen is suspended and Member States decide to go on their own path, the situation might become uncontrollable when the EU needs to adopt long term policies on this multifaceted problem. Nevertheless, if Member States do not cooperate with each other, the EU action will be ineffective.
Nando Sigona, Senior Lecturer, Deputy Director, Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham
An upper limit goes against the idea of sharing the responsibility according to a distribution key and will be contrary to the principle of EU solidarity. Moreover, the identification of an upper limit often becomes almost automatically a target therefore counterproductive also for those who propose it in the first instance.