Towards Dublin IV: Sharing norms, responsibility and costs

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Series Details No.169, June 2016
Publication Date 29/06/2016
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The massive inflow of migrants that the European Union (EU) has been facing in recent months and years has put the Common European Asylum System under intense pressure. It has exposed some important flaws in the system and has called one of its cornerstones, the Dublin Regulation, into question. The EU has attempted to compensate for these flaws through short-term emergency measures and has started a broader reform process aimed at addressing fundamental deficiencies in the medium-term.

This Policy paper by Henrik Enderlein and Nicole Koenig aims to contribute to this reform process by outlining a 'first best' solution for a thorough overhaul of the Dublin system, backed by complementary measures in the fields of border management, internal security and external action. Our proposal aims to ensure fair, permanent and sustainable responsibility sharing in terms of norms, migrants and costs. It is based on five building blocks:

1. De jure and de facto norm harmonisation: To ensure equal treatment of asylum-seekers, the EU should introduce a common European asylum status and procedure. A reinforced and more autonomous European Asylum Agency should monitor member state compliance with common norms and standards.

2. Fairer responsibility-sharing through relocation: The EU should establish a relocation mechanism that allocates the responsibility for recognised beneficiaries of protection on the basis of a binding key and through a flexible preference-matching procedure. Member states would be financially compensated according to the number of received migrants. Migrants would receive a residence and work permit for their host country.

3. Upgraded external border control and internal security cooperation: To address existing security concerns and ensure orderly immigration, the EU should push for an effective and truly European Border and Coast Guard. Internal security cooperation should be upgraded through effective information-sharing, intensified operational cooperation, and additional collective funding.

4. Global responsibility-sharing: The EU should provide more forward-looking financial support to origin and transit countries as well as relevant international organisations. Tailor-made migration compacts could help re-focus the EU’s external migration policy, but they should not transform migration control into the single, predominant objective of external action. The compacts should be used to ensure better living conditions in transit and origin countries and to open accessible legal pathways in return for cooperation on readmission and return.

5. Tangible financial solidarity via a comprehensive Schengen Fund: The member states should create a comprehensive Schengen Fund with four programmes: asylum and integration, external borders, internal security and external cooperation. The Fund would be based on national contributions weighted by GDP. The money would be allocated to the member states ex post on an annual basis and according to the action undertaken within each programme (e.g. lump sum by processed asylum application, relocated migrant etc.).

The implementation of such an encompassing proposal necessarily represents an incremental process. However, this process has to start now. If the EU wants to counter centrifugal forces, it will have to live up to the expectations of its citizens, which consider migration the number one pan-European challenge and are still waiting for a unified response.

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Related Links
ESO: Information Guide: European Migration Challenges
EP: EPRS: Briefing: EU Legislation in Progress, March 2017 (and periodically updated): Reform of the Dublin system

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