UK refuses to join plans to share responsibility for asylum seekers in Europe - Refugee Council
May 4, 2016

UK refuses to join plans to share responsibility for asylum seekers in Europe

Britain will not be forced to help share responsibility for a higher proportion of asylum seekers arriving in Europe under new EU plans unveiled today.

The EU Commission has published plans to reform the Dublin regulation – an instrument of European law which determines which Member State has responsibility for handling an individual’s asylum claim.

The need for reform has been clear as countries on the borders of Europe are clearly overwhelmed and struggle to do more than haul people out of the water. Having saved their lives countries such as Greece and Italy are not currently able to deal with all the claims for protection

The proposals, yet to be agreed by EU Member States, see the existing Dublin system being maintained, with a new ‘fairness mechanism’ introduced where countries are obliged to help share responsibility for protecting asylum seekers if others are struggling to cope.

Once a country receives a certain number of asylum claims, the redistribution mechanism would kick in, and any new asylum seekers would be relocated to other countries to have their claims processed, regardless of their nationality.

Countries which refuse to accept people under the relocation mechanism will be required to pay €250,000 in fines for each asylum seeker it refuses.

However, Britain is not bound by any of these rules and British Government Ministers have made it clear Britain will play no part in assisting other countries by offering safe haven to more people.

Despite this, Britain will continue to be able to remove asylum seekers in this country to other EU Member States if they have previously been registered there.

Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “It’s painfully clear that the current system for protecting refugees in Europe simply isn’t working and that more needs to be done to help share responsibility for sheltering refugees more evenly.

“The British Government, however, seems oblivious to this fact. Instead, Ministers appear happy to stand on the side lines and watch on passively while refugee mothers run out of milk for their babies and are forced to resort to washing them in puddles.

“When people are escaping the jaws of death our Government’s first instinct should be to help them; rather than to celebrate the fact that we are allowed to turn our backs and leave the protection of refugees to our neighbours. Britain’s better than that.”