Secondary movements of asylum-seekers in the EU asylum system

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Series Details PE 762.326
Publication Date June 2024
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Secondary movements occur when refugees or asylum-seekers move from the country in which they first arrived, to seek protection or for permanent resettlement elsewhere. While most asylum-seekers seek protection in countries close to their countries of origin, some are compelled or choose to move onwards (often in an irregular manner) from or through countries in which they have already, or could have sought, international protection, to other countries, where they may request such protection. Many different factors may influence these movements and the decision to settle in a particular country. While asylum-seekers in the EU may have very legitimate reasons for seeking asylum in a Member State other that responsible for examining their asylum application, secondary movements are seen as a challenge for migration management in the EU.

Although no genuine data are available that would provide reliable information about the scale of the phenomenon at the level of EU countries, some of the existing databases can give an indication of the travel routes relating to asylum-seekers' secondary movements. The aim of the common European asylum system's current instruments has been to limit secondary movements of applicants for international protection between EU Member States. However, the increased inflow of asylum-seekers to Europe in the past decade has shown that the system has been unable to discourage secondary movements. For this purpose, among others, in 2016 and 2020 the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform in order to harmonise asylum rules and introduce a range of new measures on asylum policy that would address such movements.

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