Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Austria EU presidency seeks 'mandatory solidarity' on Dublin

  • The Austrian EU presidency will brief EU interior ministers on Dublin (Photo: PES)

The Austrian EU presidency will be pressing ahead with plans to make sure member states play their part in taking in asylum seekers.

Also known as "mandatory solidarity", the concept (and its variations) has so far eluded the past four EU presidencies in their efforts to gain some traction on reforming the so-called 'Dublin regulation' - a key EU-wide asylum law that determines who is required to process an asylum-seeker application.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission's reform proposal includes plans to automatically distribute people in need of international protection across EU states - an anathema for Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

An EU diplomat on Tuesday (9 October) told reporters in Brussels that the Austrian EU presidency is now aiming to get the EU states to agree on the principle of mandatory solidarity in the hopes of pushing ahead with Dublin reforms.

"A new Dublin regulation should have a new concept of solidarity. The only question not being able to be solved on that until now is how should this solidarity be designed," said the EU diplomat source.

The presidency over the summer held bilateral meetings with 27 other members states on Dublin and will now brief the outcome of those talks with member state interior ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg on Friday.

No detailed definition

The Austrian presidency has not proposed any detailed scenarios of what "mandatory solidarity" means in practice, noting that it had been mandated in June to find a consensus on the concept.

But finding that consensus has so far been elusive.

Similar quotas sparked a political crisis when the EU in 2015 imposed a temporary migrant relocation scheme, which ended last September, in an effort to ease the asylum arrival pressure in Italy and Greece.

Hungary is instead pressing for an Australian model where people are offshored in prison-like conditions.

In August, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban and Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini also announced an anti-migration front to stop people from reaching Europe.

The infighting among EU states stands in sharp contrast to the European Parliament, which secured its own position on Dublin last year.

"We in the parliament have a two-third majority and have gathered the five groups and altogether more than 220 political parties from the European Union. 28 ministers should come up with one common text," Cecilia Wikstrom, the Swedish liberal MEP who steered the file through the parliament, told an audience at an event organised by the European policy centre, earlier this year.

Dublin in numbers

In the first six months of this year, Germany carried out some 4,900 transfers, followed by Greece (2,743), Austria (1,403) and the Netherlands (1,080), according to a study by Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

But those transfers are dwarfed by requests owing to the heavy administration that underpins the Dublin regulation. Germany, for instance, had issued over 30,000 requests but managed to only carry out only 4,900 transfers.

Minos Mouzourakis, senior asylum information database (AIDA) coordinator at the ECRE, in a statement, also pointed out that member states are not required to transfer asylum seekers to other countries.

"Dublin grants them discretion to take responsibility and process the asylum claim at any point," he said.

EU states tackle Dublin asylum reform 'line by line'

A Friends of the Presidency group, set up by the Bulgarian EU presidency, has sifted through the European Commission's proposal to reform Dublin, an EU asylum law that has sparked widespread political tensions and divisions.

EU ministers try to crack asylum deadlock

Redistribution of migrants remains the worst sticking point as EU ministers discuss the latest attempt to rewrite Europe's 'Dublin' asylum law.

Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

EU leaders at the summit in Brussels want partnerships with north African states that go beyond migration. But internal EU reforms on asylum, especially sharing of migrants and refugees between member states, remain stuck.

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

NGO Mediterranean rescue standoff exposes EU rift

Conditions on the Dutch flagged Sea-Watch 3, an NGO boat with 32 rescued migrants onboard, continue to deteriorate - as EU states refuse to take them in. The youngest on board is a one-year old infant.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  2. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  3. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  4. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  5. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment
  6. Trump's wall vs Europe's sea
  7. Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret
  8. Germany scorns 'unusual' US threat on Russia pipeline

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us