Dossier: Crossing borders – refugee and asylum policy in Europe

Dossier: Crossing Borders – Refugee and Asylum Policy in Europe

Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

The current ‘refugee crisis’ represents, above all, a political crisis for Europe as lack of coordinated action that has stretched the Union almost to breaking point. In many countries populist right wing parties have been given a new lease of life with increasing numbers of people turning their backs on an open and liberal society. Our dossier, accompanying our conference “Crossing Borders – Refugee and Asylum Policy in Europe”, is an attempt to see how national differences present themselves and what common ground might still be achievable for a common European asylum and refugee policy.

Documentation of the conference

Refugees at the Western Station in Vienna, September 5, 2015
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Many experts are in agreement that the causes and long-term implications of the refugee issue can hardly be resolved at national level. Whether Brussels can play a more prominent role was the subject of debate at the annual European Conference held by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Berlin on 26 May 2016.

Towards a common European Policy

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - 23 MAY : German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend the High-Level Leaders' Roundtables meeting on "Political Leadership to Prevent and End Conflicts" at the World Humanitarian Summit. OCHA / Salih Zeki Fazlıoğlu
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The number of refugees fled to Europe in 2015 revealed the EU's deficient common asylum policy, which disproportionately affected the southern member states. To overcome the EU crisis, there is more needed than an EU-Turkey deal.

Syrians and Iraq refugees arrive at Skala Sykamias Lesvos Greece
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The EU needs a proper strategy that allows migrants a legal form of access. The current situation of the camps in and around the EU is unacceptable. The issue of clarifying immigration regulations for the EU must not be put off any longer.

Events

May 26Jun 14
Group Exhibition
Berlin
May 30
Investment and Sustainable Development on the African Continent
Berlin
May 31
Investment and Sustainable Development on the African Continent
Berlin
Jun 15Jul 01

Dossier

Creator: Gabriella Csoszo. All rights reserved.

Our dossier on Hungary is as a forum for critical voices since the right-wing government came to power in April 2010. The contributions reflect the socio-political changes as well as long-term developments.

National Perspectives

Refugees at the border in Gevgelija, Mazedonia (August 24, 2015)
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Whilst the refugee crisis has dominated debates in Germany since 2015, it plays a subordinate role in France where the war on Islamist terrorism and tackling the problem with military intervention.

Whilst the French government focuses on military actions in dealing with the refugee crisis, these protestants in Toulouse demand more help for the refugees (September 5, 2015)
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In France economic and social problems, terrorism and internal security are viewed as more important than the migrant crisis. Seeing the migrant flows as a result of conflicts in the Arab world they deal with the problem with military assistance.

Migrants at Eastern Railway Station - Keleti, 2015.09.04
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During the Slovak parliamentary election campaign even moderate parties adopted anti-immigrant language. But the strategy backfired and far-right politicians entered parliament.

A demonstration supporting the refugees and immigrants during the European migrant crisis in fall 2015. The protest took place in Prague, at the main square (Wenceslas Square, 17. October 2015)
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Czech society is polarised by attitudes to refugees. This is absurd given that fact that only 1,156 have applied for asylum in a country of ten million people. Xenophobia and hysteria drive the debate.

Mustafa hasn't been to school for four years now, Lebanon
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Thousands of Syrians have sought shelter in Lebanon. But having such a precarious status there and no legal recognition many feel their best option is to try entering the EU via the Mediterranean.

Refugee march in Hungary, September 4, 2015
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Xenophobic sentiments are traditionally high in Hungary but the reasons for Fidesz’ harsh stance on immigration are domestic.

Member of Greek Red Cross helps an Afghan refugee who has just arrived from Turkey with an inflatable boat in the area of airport of Mytilene, Lesvos Island, Greece
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Greece as a key migrant entry point needs extra resources to secure the EU’s external border and provide humanitarian assistance. It's vital to manage the burden sharing and secure a pragmatic agreement with Turkey to stem migrant flows and facilitate returns.

Refugees on a boat crossing the Mediterranean sea, heading from Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, January 29,  2016
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Turkey is hosting some 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Only one tenth are in camps and the rest spread around urban areas. Local cultural and religious affinity with them has kept social friction low.

Migrants in Hungary near the Serbian border (August 25, 2015)
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Due to their recent history many Croatians understand the plight of refugees. Others fear the influx of different cultural and religious influences, and the effects on the economic situation.

Refugees arriving at the airport in Cologne/Bonn (5, October 2015)
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As Europeans struggle to deal with the tensions between growing right-wing, xenophobic parties and new refugee and immigrant populations, there is much to be learned from the US immigrant rights movement.

Syrian refugees sleeping in the open air during refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015
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Poland has also taken in refugees and economic migrants from Chechenya, Georgia, and Ukraine. Any solution to the refugee crisis requires EU-level efforts, including effective implementation.

People demonstrating for an open refugee politic in Toulouse, September 5, 2015
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The lack of a consensus culture in political life provides an explanation of France’s cautiousness towards the refugee crisis. Though, when it comes specifically to asylum, a lot has been done since 2012.

Refugees at the Macedonian border
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The Nordic countries have traditionally been attractive for refugees. Given the large number of refugees that arrived last year, these countries have introduced an increasingly restrictive asylum policy, however.

For further reading...

Refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece
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Caroline Ausserer spoke with Zhan Chiam, employee at ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), about the recent report of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on LGBTI asylum-seekers and -refugees.

Policeman uses pepper spray against protesters in France
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The repression of NGOs and other civil society groups increases worldwide, which leads to a decline of democratic freedom. This issue should be added to the agenda of national parliaments and multilateral organizations.

Spanish pro refugee sympathizer
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Before the Spanish reelections on 26. June 2016 the democratisation of the European institutions and the solution of the refugee crisis became relevant issues of the political debate.

Refugees in the Harmanli camp in Bulgaria
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In Bulgaria, public opinion approves the patriotic vigilante mobs, which trap refugees crossing Bulgaria’s border.