Reform the European asylum rules!

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by Mihaela Sirițanu & Joel Boehme |

Turkey abandoning their migrational commitments to Europe must prompt The Union to reflect on its attempts to solve the refugee crisis.

Surrendering our migrational stability to Ankara was a desperate and shortsighted measure. Less defensible yet, was the fact that we outsourced our compassion to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In hindsight, this humanitarian outrage can only be written off as a misstep through-and-through, and must mark the end of an embarrassing chapter in European migration policy.

First and foremost, Europe must realize that the unsustainable EU Turkish stop-gap was but a symptom of a deeper problem, namely the fact that the Dublin Regulation is a relic of the bygone age. The state of first entry may be a reasonable principle when considering refugee flows within Europe, but it fails to address the transcontinental routes of tomorrow. The regulation fuels parochial refusals of responsibility, and does so on the expense of the refugees we purport to protect. In addition, its flaccidity serves only to nurture euroscepticism as a byproduct of its inability to address the problems of today.

On a deeper level, it is time to come to terms with the fact that helping the refugees of the future falls on no-one else but Europe. If we do not step up, refugees will suffer and die. If we, however, truly manage to rise above petty notions of national interest, we can lay the foundation for something truly good. We have a responsibility to those in need, and we must be able to help them without being tied to the cynical geopolitics of a neighbouring state. It’s unbecoming of Europe that we would play such brazen games with the lives of those most vulnerable.

With all this in mind, and with President von der Leyen’s intention to lead geopolitically fresh in memory, the onus is on the new Commission to trailblaze a humane and sustainable migration strategy, which must pave the way for a unified asylum system. Arrivals to Europe must be received by Frontex, and refugees must be assigned, fairly and proportionately to European member states based on but not limited to – population, wealth and growth. This will help member states share the hitherto unequally shared responsibility to help, and will enable Europe to stand firm as an undeterrable beacon of compassion.

If Europe is to come out of this strong, we must learn from our mistakes. The Turkey deal came about from Europe scrambling to tackle an issue it found itself unable to tackle. The EU cannot make the same mistake twice. This time, we must know better. To help Greece in the short term, we welcome the use of the Civil Protection Mechanism – the camps are overcrowded today, and Europe must do more. Taking it further, and building on lessons learned, we must establish an asylum system fit for the future, so that we may face it together.

Mihaela Sirițanu & Joel Boehme, Board Members, Volt Europa


Mihaela Sirițanu
Mihaela Sirițanu is a Romanian citizen based in London, where she works in advocacy for women`s rights and serves as the treasurer of Volt Europa’s Board. She’s studied and worked both in- and outside of the EU and is a strong supporter of an ever-closer Union


Joel Boehme
Joel Boehme is a Swedish citizen based in Lund, where he has studied primarily political science. A passionate pro-European, Joel has a background in different federalist ventures and is currently a board member of Volt Europa, after previously having been the president of Volt Sweden.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Stuart Clark

    Great article. Sadly, it appears your warning has not been heeded. The lack of compassion from all quarters is astounding. Where are the leaders in Europe with the determination to drive policy change and influence public opinion for the good?

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