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19th Jun 2021

Commission: outsourcing asylum 'illegal', after new Danish law

  • The socialist-led coalition government in Denmark has passed a new law, effectively outsourcing asylum (Photo: News Øresund - Johan Wessman)

Outsourcing asylum to countries outside Europe is not compatible with EU law, the European Commission confirmed on Thursday (3 June) - in the wake of controversial new Danish legislation.

"It is not possible under existing EU rules, or under the proposals of the new pact on migration and asylum," a European Commission spokesperson told reporters.

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He also warned that such moves risks "undermining the foundations of the international protection system for the world's refugees."

The comment was made after Denmark's parliament, also on Thursday, passed legislation to process asylum claims outside Europe.

The Danish legislation requires asylum seekers to physically submit an application at the Danish border. They are then flown to an asylum centre outside Europe, possibly Rwanda or elsewhere in Africa.

If asylum is granted, then the person would remain in Rwanda, for example, or any of the other half dozen or so countries Denmark is currently in talks with.

"If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you know that you will be sent back to a country outside Europe, and therefore we hope that people will stop seeking asylum in Denmark," the government party's immigration speaker Rasmus Stoklund told broadcaster DR earlier on Thursday.

Denmark has not yet reached any agreements with countries for them to accept outsourced asylum claims.

The European Commission says it now wants to study the legislation, pending its entry into force, given Denmark's special EU opt-out status on justice and home affairs issues.

"This is something we are going to have to analyse more in depth," said the commission.

Denmark has a socialist-led government, in a minority coalition of left-wing parties. But it has also lent heavily on the far-right Danish People's Party on migration topics.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has denounced the Danish law, saying it risks creating a domino effect whereby other EU states may attempt to do something similar.

"This can lead to a frightening race to the bottom," said the Nordic representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a statement.

The latest decision also follows recent efforts by the Danish government to strip Syrians of residency rights and deport them back to the wider region of Damascus.

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The leader of the Danish Social Democrats, Mette Frederiksen, is poised to win national elections on Wednesday and complete a shift of power in all the three Nordic EU countries to having social democrat leaders.

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Last week, the UN high commissioner for human rights said the EU and its member states are partly responsible for making the central Mediterranean more dangerous for asylum-seeker hopefuls. The EU rejects that - despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

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