Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day 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.

Opinion

Why a far-right surge won't change EU migration policy

The right-wing Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups hold 151 out of 751 seats - even large gains are unlikely to give them a majority.

Opinion

Europe's far-right - united in diversity?

Europe's far-right is set to rise in the next European Parliament election. This vote will not yet allow the populists to build a majority. But it may become another milestone in their process of changing European politics.

Stakeholder

Transforming the EU's response to forced displacement

Only through joining up external policies to ensure no one is left behind, establishing a humane and predictable asylum system, and recognising humanitarian emergencies are a political emergency, can the EU champion the humanitarian response globally.

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.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

Feature

Malmo, a segregated city - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us