June 21, 2018
By Glykeria Katsogianni, student of M.N. Raptou High School, Larissa
The European migrant crisis, or the European refugee crisis, is a term given to a period beginning in 2015 when rising numbers of people arrived in the European Union (EU), travelling across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe. This included asylum seekers, but also others such as economic migrants.
The main document that defines EU policies on migration is the Dublin Regulation, a European Union (EU) law that determines the EU Member State responsible for examining an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the European Union. The Dublin Regulation aims to “determine rapidly the Member State responsible [for an asylum claim]” and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State. Usually, that responsible Member State is the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.
The Member States agreed to an establishment of a dedicated platform of cooperation among states, businesses and trade unions on economic migration. That will contribute to a better understanding between member states so that everyone has the same policy.
Furthermore, the new policy reflects on the development of an “expression of interest system” which would use verifiable criteria to automatically make an initial selection of potential migrants.
The European Union consists of 27 countries. Among them, there are some that accept refugees and some that reject them. There is a group of countries that hold a more neutral position.
The countries that are open to receive refugees are Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and Sweden. Greece accepts refugees regularly. It has constructed reception centres, which, unfortunately, are not enough due to a large number of entrances. Italy accepts a huge number of refugees but it will strongly call for the Dublin Regulation to be overhauled in order to obtain respect for a fair distribution of responsibilities and to achieve an automatic system of compulsory distribution of asylum seekers. They claim that all the countries have to receive migrants, not only the countries of registration.
Unlike Greece and Italy, Cyprus has not experienced large inflows of refugees by sea. It made significant efforts to accept those seeking asylum. The Cypriot government donated funds to the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) for the refugee crisis.
Spain “opened her arms at a time when many rejected refugees and did not show solidarity”. The number of immigrants arriving in Spain is rising rapidly, already measuring more than 1,000 people. According to polls, most Spaniards are positive to the idea of welcoming and helping to integrate refugees. Portugal has taken an open approach and attempted to encourage more refugees to come. Yet, the country struggles to fill its quotas and many new arrivals end up leaving.
Finally, Swedish Government’s objective is to ensure a sustainable migration policy that safeguards the right to asylum within the framework of managed immigration. It also facilitates mobility across borders and it promotes demand-driven labour migration. Moreover, government harnesses and takes account of the development impact of migration, and deepens European and international cooperation.
The countries which are more sceptical towards refugees are Bulgaria, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Poland. In Bulgaria in 2016, the Asylum Information Database reported that there were 19,418 refugees seeking asylum. Bulgarian citizens are saying (78%) that the increase in refugees has created a strain on the economy. Bulgarians don’t receive migrants easily now. In Denmark, citizens are accustomed to a very high level of welfare, which has already been greatly reduced in recent years according to them, making it even more difficult for the authorities to allow access to the country by numerous applicants. Austria receives migrants under tough security measures. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Poland, the governments do not allow any refugees to enter.
Lastly, the countries that hold a neutral position are Germany and France. In Germany, we have two positions: the first position is Merkel’s, arguing that the decision to send migrants back must be taken collectively by all members’ states. The second is of Seehofer’s/CSU claiming that migrants have to go back to the country where their registration took place. France is one of the countries that refuse the highest number of migrants but in case of great need, it is accepted.
Concluding, EU accepts every year a huge number of refugees and migrants. So every member state reacts differently in this situation. But if they cooperate, they could have a better result and helpful for migrants and refugees.