6. Asylum and refugees
Reaching consensus on EU-wide asylum legislation has been as challenging for member countries as hammering out common policies on immigration in general. Despite the differences, EU leaders have pledged to develop a common asylum system by the end of the decade.
In general, the scale of asylum seeking across western Europe is now down to a level last seen in the mid- to late 1980s. The continuing drop in numbers in recent years has been due to a combination of factors: a stricter asylum policy in the receiving countries and greater political stability in some of the major source regions, including Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans.
According to a report from UNHCR, ‘Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, First Half of 2008’, 103 500 new asylum applications were recorded in EU member countries (excluding Italy) in the first half of 2008. That’s a drop of 11% over the last six months of 2007.
Despite the fact that fewer asylum seekers are entering the EU as a whole, a disproportionate amount are entering new member states, most of which are on Europe’s eastern and southern borders. Currently, there is no system for the EU to help out member states that are subject to large numbers of asylum seekers.
The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration adopted in November 2004 by European leaders, said there should be assistance for member states which, merely due to their geographical location, faced an influx of asylum seekers or immigrants.
At the moment, Brussels has an emergency fund, the European Refugee Fund to draw on to house, feed and offer medical assistance to a sudden large influx of refugees anywhere in the EU. In 2000 EU leaders allocated 216 million euros to the ERF, to run until the end of 2004. This has since been extended to 2010.
- 1. Background
- 2. Relevant legislation
- 3. New approach
- 4. Europe’s labour shortage
- 5. Illegal immigration
- 6. Asylum and refugees
- 7. Key policy makers and contacts