Europe and the Refugee Crisis
The term Refugee is used to describe a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. In order to be granted refugee status, an applicant must follow these criteria:
- Face a well-founded fear of persecution;
- The motives for persecution must be related to the religion, race, nationality or membership of the applicant;
- The acts of persecution may take a variety of forms, such as physical or mental violence, and in the case of a minor may also include acts of a gender-specific or child-specific nature.
Organs responsible for asylum policy
The Court of Justice of the European Union is the organ that ensures the correct interpretations and applications of asylum law. Uses preliminary rulings, infringement proceedings actions for annulment when the legality of a provision of EU legislation is challenged. This organ is responsible to ensure the application of the Character of Fundamental Rights of the EU, which establishes the right to asylum and provides the right to protections in the event of removal, expulsion, or extradition; rights of the child; the right to good administration; and the right to an effective remedy and fair trial.
The arrival processes
Third-country nationals who reach the EU borders, including territorial waters and transit zones, and who wish to apply for international protection are subject to national legislation, which must comply with EU asylum legislation.
The registration of applications for international protection must be made within three days after they are filed. An applicant is subject to a personal interview by a person who is competent under national law to conduct interviews. A medical examination can be ordered, with the applicant’s consent and paid by public funds if the determining authority considers the examination necessary to confirm past persecution or serious harm.
Measures of the Union to Face the Unprecedented Migrant and Refugee Crisis
There are three main measures taken at the EU level in order to deal with this crisis, which has become truly unprecedented since the summer of 2015:
- the creation of hotspot areas, for example, the bizarre of the crisis points;
- the adoption of interim measures in the field of international protection for Italy and Greece;
- the EU-Turkey Declaration of 7 March 2016, with a significant external dimension (unlike the first two, essentially internal to the Union). All of them are of a conjunctural nature and of proven effectiveness, raising doubts as to their compatibility with the applicable higher law.
They have all been accompanied by unilateral measures by the Member States of transit and destination of the mixed flow concerned, ranging from the reintroduction of controls at the internal borders, the construction of external border walls or announcements of quantitative limitations on the reception of protection.
As a new attempt to reach a solution to the crisis at the EU level that the EU-Turkey Declaration, dated 7 March 2016, appears. By means of this declaration, the EU, on one hand, and Turkey, on the other hand, has agreed on “certain actions”, namely:
- all new irregular migrants departing from Turkey and arriving in the Greek islands from 20 March 2016 are returned to Turkey; the cost of the return operations of these migrants will be supported by the EU;
- for each Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian displaced in Turkey is reinstated in the EU and a mechanism should be set up with the support of the Commission, the agencies of the Union and the other Member States, Member States;
- Turkey shall take all the necessary measures to prevent the opening up of new irregular migration routes, either by sea or land, to the EU from its territory;
- this, in turn, expedites the payment to Turkey of EUR 3 billion in support of refugees on Turkish soil.
The problem with this declaration is that the whole process takes a lot of time because of the bureaucracy. What was supposed to be the solution of this crisis almost nothing is changing. The European Union with this agreement is someway getting rid of the problem, taking in consideration one of the clauses, that is for Turkey to take all necessary measures to prevent the appearance of new refugee routes to European Union.
The signatory countries of the Geneva Convention on refugees cannot establish limits to receive refugees. Europe must receive as many refugees as it can without sacrificing its institutions and social welfare infrastructure. According to experts, this number is much higher than Europe is currently accepting.
One of the expert’s arguments to say that Europe has not reached its limit is the number of refugees in countries bordering Syria. In Lebanon, the number of refugees represents 25% of the population. This means that it took 125 million refugees in the EU to reach the level of pressure in Lebanon.
In 2018 nearly 13 million Syrians are displaced. More than 6 million Syrians are internally displaced within their own country representing half of the number of displaced. More than 5 million displaced Syrians are in neighboring countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In Jordan are around 660,000 Syrian Refugees. About 1 million displaced Syrians have moved to Europe as asylum seekers or refugees since the beginning of the conflict.
The European Union often say that it reached the limit of refugees that can accept but if we look to the situation in the neighboring countries they are the ones that reach the limit a long time ago. It is a duty for the European Union to ensure that anyone who arrives in Europe and fulfills refugee status has the right to shelter. if Europe is so advanced and a defender of human rights, it must show this by defending the rights of these people and showing that the community is next to them.
By Eduardo Pereira