asylum law

The Whole World’s Watching

Refugees drag a boat ashore AP
Volunteers pull a boat ashore.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Two of Europe’s poorest countries, Greece and Italy, were tasked with monitoring external borders and carrying out almost all asylum procedures.
  • Facts


    • The European Union agreed to pay Turkey €6 billion euros, or about $6.8 billion, to keep and protect 2.7 million Syrian refugees, and prevent them from moving further into Europe.
    • Until the end of the 1990s each country could shape its asylum laws as desired, though all E.U. members were obligated to uphold the Geneva Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights.
    • The Dublin decrees of 2003 and 2013 specified that E.U. countries where refugees first set foot are responsible for registering and evaluating asylum applications.
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Thousands of refugees continue to hope that the border into Macedonia from Greece will open, but northward routes remain closed. Their fate for now is uncertain.

But after the European Union and Turkey agreed a deal last week to solve the migrant crisis, it is clear that almost all new refugees who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece will be sent back to Turkey.

At much cost and at a high political price, Europeans are now transferring responsibility for protecting refugees to states beyond E.U. borders. Critics call it a disreputable deal with an autocratic regime. The individual’s right to asylum has become nothing more than empty words, they say.

The European asylum system, which before the refugee crisis was praised as the best and most humane in the world, is now only a pleasant memory.

This is the pessimistic view of what the European Union is currently doing, and it is justified. Governmental leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán will never be satisfied — they will demand tougher measures as long as there are refugees wandering on European soil. The Hungarian prime minster reiterates that he won’t listen to more sermons from the “horde of diehard human rights proponents.”

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