A new system for sharing responsibility for processing asylum applications around European countries will be unveiled in March, according to media reports.
At the moment, the Dublin regulation, also known as Dublin III, dictates which country should process a claim for asylum.
This means that the countries on Europe’s borders, including Greece and Italy, are theoretically obliged to process a disproportionate number of asylum claims, while countries in northern Europe, such as Britain, are sheltered from offering asylum to large numbers of refugees.
However, there is also provision under Dublin III for family members in different European states to be reunited in order to allow them to be together while their claims are processed. In reality, few families are able to take advantage of this provision.
At the moment, asylum seekers who do not have family in Britain and reach our shores having previously made a claim for asylum in another Member State are liable to be returned there to have their claim processed.
Despite a recent outcry, it was revealed that Britain is continuing to send asylum seekers back to countries on the southern edge of Europe to have their claims processed even though countries like Italy have repeatedly said they are unable to cope.
Meanwhile efforts to relocate asylum seekers away from Europe’s overwhelmed southern states have stalled, with many countries, including Britain, refusing to help share the load.
It’s not yet clear what the new responsibility sharing system would look like but it wouldn’t be possible for the European Union to force any new system on Britain as Britain is not bound by such legislation.
The Refugee Council has long called for Britain to voluntarily step forward and show leadership in its approach to the refugee crisis by offering to help protect some of the men, women and children arriving on Europe’s shores.
Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “The Dublin regulation has never been fit for purpose and is inherently unfair on Europe’s border nations. At the moment, under the Dublin regulation, asylum seekers are shuttled around the continent like unwanted luggage, and at great expense, as states in northern Europe try to shirk their responsibility towards protecting refugees.
“It’s absolutely clear that we need to see a more equitable system for sharing responsibility across Europe for protecting refugees and enabling them to reunite with their family members here.
“Protecting refugees isn’t just a job for the Greeks and the Italians; they simply don’t have the ability to deliver a continent’s worth of compassion alone. It’s vital that all countries across Europe, including Britain step forward and offer to help the desperate refugees arriving in Europe find safety.”