Proposals to reform the EU's Dublin Regulation should focus on helping to better implement rules in place, not to reinvent the wheel, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, said today as he sent a list of proposals for Dublin reform to the European Commission.
The European Conservatives and Reformists' Home Affairs spokesman put forward the proposals to feed into the reform that is expected in March.
In the proposals he recommends:
- That the Dublin Regulation should retain the same basic principles but should learn from the previous mistakes of the EU emergency relocation system, which has not been successful.
- At its core, Dublin should still see asylum decisions remain with the country of entry into the EU, and the Dublin Regulation should make clear who is responsible for processing of an application to avoid states pushing migrants around the continent.
- However, should Dublin returns to a particular EU state be suspended, other states should be able to return people to the nearest functioning 'hotspot' to their original point of entry. This will discourage further movement and states encouraging asylum seekers and migrants to travel onward within the EU.
- The European Commission should ensure that countries are carrying out these returns, and that asylum seekers are given decent conditions, swift fingerprinting and processing upon arrival.
- The Dublin Regulation and any relocation mechanism should be kept as separate instruments, particularly given the lack of success of the temporary relocation mechanism. An emergency relocation mechanism could apply, but countries could have the option participate in the direct resettlement programme of the UNHCR.
- Any EU country that wishes to suspend Dublin returns to them should undergo a European Commission impact assessment. If they suspend returns they should have their Schengen membership suspended or should accept assistance from the EU to protect the border.
- If there is evidence that an asylum seeker or migrant has been in another EU Member State for some time without claiming asylum, the person should be returned to that state for processing, in order to prevent secondary movement or states seeking to push asylum seekers to other EU countries.
Timothy Kirkhope, a former UK Immigration Minister, said:
"To completely reinvent the Dublin regulation in the midst of a crisis is the wrong approach. We need to stick to a method that has been tried and tested, but which countries are failing to enforce effectively.
"The Dublin Regulation can be tweaked to make it more effective, and to prevent countries seeking to nudge refugees and migrants to other countries. Countries need to live up to their responsibilities and the European Commission needs to demand that they implement the rules that they have signed up to. If they cannot play by the rules then other countries should help them to manage the situation and provide extra resources, or they should temporarily be subjected to internal EU border controls.
"I have submitted some of my thoughts to the European Commission on how we can make Dublin effective without tearing up the rule book in the middle of a crisis."