Module 3: European Union

Lesson Title

A Europe of freedom, security and justice:
o Asylum and Immigration Policy, Treaty of Dublin



This lesson presents a definition of migrant and refugee, the introduction of asylum policy and Dublin regulation. The students are also introduced to reception conditions and The European Asylum Support Office.


Lesson time foreseen

40 minutes = 1 lesson


Lesson Content

Is there a difference between a migrant and a refugee?
A migrant is a person who leaves home to seek a new life in another region or country. This includes all those who move across borders, including those doing so with government permission, i.e., with a visa or a work permit, as well as those doing so without it, i.e., irregular or undocumented migrants. The member states of the European Union agree that EU citizens and their families have freedom of movement within the EU and the European Economic Area—these citizens are privileged migrants because they don’t require individual permission from officials as other migrants do.
A refugee is someone fleeing war, persecution, or natural disaster. Refugee status is defined in international law, which requires states to protect refugees and not send anyone to a place where they risk being persecuted or seriously harmed. States hold primary responsibility for the protection of refugees. The UN counted 21.3 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2015.
“Asylum” refers to the legal permission to stay somewhere as a refugee, which brings rights and benefits. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.
What is the European Union’s asylum policy?
The EU Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is a set of EU laws, completed in 2005. They are intended to ensure that all EU member states protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. The CEAS sets out minimum standards and procedures for processing and deciding asylum applications, and for the treatment of both asylum seekers and those who are recognized as refugees. Implementation of CEAS varies throughout the European Union. A number of EU states still do not operate fair, effective systems of asylum decision-making and support, leading to a patchwork of 28 asylum systems producing uneven results.
Asylum seekers have no legal duty to claim asylum in the first EU state they reach, and many move on, seeking to join relatives or friends for support, or to reach a country with a functioning asylum system. However, the “Dublin” regulation stipulates that EU member states can choose to return asylum seekers to their country of first entry to process their asylum claim, so long as that country has an effective asylum system.
Common European Asylum System
Asylum is granted to people fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and therefore in need of international protection. Asylum is a fundamental right; granting it is an international obligation, first recognized in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees. In the EU, an area of open borders and freedom of movement, countries share the same fundamental values and States need to have a joint approach to guarantee high standards of protection for refugees. Procedures must at the same time be fair and effective throughout the EU and impervious to abuse. With this in mind, the EU States have committed to establishing a Common European Asylum System.
Asylum flows are not constant, nor are they evenly distributed across the EU. They have, for example, varied from a peak of 425 000 applications for EU-27 States in 2001 down to under 200 000 in 2006. In 2012, there were 335,895.
Asylum must not be a lottery. EU Member States have a shared responsibility to welcome asylum seekers in a dignified manner, ensuring they are treated fairly and that their case is examined to uniform standards so that, no matter where an applicant applies, the outcome will be similar.
Reception conditions
The Reception Conditions Directive aims at ensuring better as well as more harmonized standards of reception conditions throughout the Union. It ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, clothing, health care, education for minors and access to employment under certain conditions.
The current Reception Conditions Directive was adopted in 2013. It replaced Council Directive 2003/9/CE on minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers. The deadline for Member States to transpose the Directive into national law was 20 July 2015.
In addition to the above-mentioned provisions, the Directive also provides particular attention to vulnerable persons, especially unaccompanied minors and victims of torture. Member States must, inter alia, conduct an individual assessment in order to identify the special reception needs of vulnerable persons and to ensure that vulnerable asylum seekers can access medical and psychological support.
It also includes rules regarding detention of asylum seekers, ensuring that their fundamental rights are fully respected.
Finally, access to employment for an asylum seeker must now be granted within a maximum period of 9 months.
EASO: The European Asylum Support Office
EASO was set up in 2011 to enhance practical cooperation among Member States on asylum-related matters and for assisting Member States in implementing their obligations under the Common European Asylum System.
It was established by Regulation (EU) 439/2010 as a Support Office independent in technical matters and enjoying legal, administrative and financial autonomy.
EASO acts as a centre of expertise on asylum, providing scientific and technical support to Member States, particularly to those whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure. Through its support function, EASO assists EU States in fulfilling their European and international obligations in the field of asylum.
The objectives of EASO are the following:
• to facilitate, develop and coordinate practical cooperation among EU States on asylum by facilitating the exchange of information;
• to contribute to the implementation of the Common European Asylum System by collecting and exchanging information on best practices, drawing up an annual report on the asylum situation in the EU and defining technical orientations on the implementation of the Union's asylum instruments.
• to coordinate activities relating to information on countries of origin by gathering relevant, reliable, accurate and up-to date information and by drafting reports on countries of origin;
• to support EU Member States subject to particular pressure on their asylum and reception systems by providing technical and operational assistance.
In May 2016, as part of its proposed reform of the Common European Asylum System, the Commission presented a draft proposal to transform the existing European Asylum Support Office into a fully-fledged European Union Agency for Asylum.
The aim of the proposal is to strengthen the role of EASO and develop it into an agency which facilitates the implementation and improves the functioning of the CEAS.
The Dublin Regulation
Every single asylum application lodged within EU territory needs to be examined - each EU country must be able to determine if and when it is responsible for handling an asylum claim. The objective of the Dublin Regulation is to ensure quick access to asylum procedures and the examination of an application on the merits by a single, clearly determined Member State.

What is the Dublin Regulation?
The Dublin Regulation establishes the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application. The criteria for establishing responsibility run, in hierarchical order, from family considerations, to recent possession of visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered EU irregularly or regularly.
Key achievements
The Dublin III entered into force in July 2013 and it contains sound procedures for the protection of asylum applicants and improves the system’s efficiency through:
• An early warning, preparedness and crisis management mechanism, geared to addressing the root dysfunctional causes of national asylum systems or problems stemming from particular pressures.
• A series of provisions on protection of applicants, such as compulsory personal interview, guarantees for minors (including a detailed description of the factors that should lay at the basis of assessing a child's best interests) and extended possibilities of reunifying them with relatives.
• The possibility for appeals to suspend the execution of the transfer for the period when the appeal is judged, together with the guarantee of the right for a person to remain on the territory pending the decision of a court on the suspension of the transfer pending the appeal.
• An obligation to ensure legal assistance free of charge upon request.
• A single ground for detention in case of risk of absconding; strict limitation of the duration of detention.
• The possibility for asylum seekers that could in some cases be considered irregular migrants and returned under the Return Directive, to be treated under the Dublin procedure - thus giving these persons more protection than the Return Directive.
• An obligation to guarantee right to appeal against transfer decision.
• More legal clarity of procedures between Member States - e.g. exhaustive and clearer deadlines. The entire Dublin procedure cannot last longer than 11 months to take charge of a person, or 9 months to take him/her back (except for absconding or where the person is imprisoned).


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