De Jong urges new European asylum policy

4 April 2013

De Jong urges new European asylum policy

For SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, the existing European asylum system crosses the border of the acceptable. ‘It’s not at all clear whether this system is cost effective, while countries such as Greece and with external borders or coastlines must process a great many more asylum seekers than do other member states. The SP wants to see a more economical, more just system under which asylum seekers are first brought directly to a European asylum centre and only complicated applications are divided amongst the different EU member states. This would quickly consign inhumane situations for asylum seekers in such countries as Greece to the past.’

De Jong has written a memo which is meant to spur a new European asylum policy. He presented the proposals this morning during a meeting with Dutch Secretary of State for Security and Justice Fred Teeven. 'The Netherlands has always taken a lead in Europe in putting the difficult matter of asylum on the agenda,’ says De Jong. ‘I urged Secretary Teeven to join with the European Parliament in getting this initiative for a sustainable, humane and affordable EU asylum system on to the agenda.’ During the meeting, the Secretary of State left the question of a common approach open and informed those present that he would on 1st May provide a thorough reaction to the SP proposals.

Existing EU asylum agreements are based on the Dublin Criteria, which state that an application for asylum must be dealt with in the country where the asylum seeker entered European Union territory. During the 1990s Dennis de Jong was closely involved in the drawing up of these rules, and admits that ‘we knew then that this could lead to problems. You can’t, you see, deny asylum seekers access to the EU, as member states are obliged by international law to treat asylum seekers decently. If you have long or otherwise difficult external borders, you’re going to receive a relatively large number of asylum applications, and member states who can’t or won’t manage this have an interest in ensuring that asylum seekers travel on through their country in order to make their application in another member state. If they do that illegally, it’s often difficult to prove which route they took and thus which country is responsible. Figures from the NGO Dublin Transnational Network show that only one in four applications for transfer of an asylum seeker is granted by the member state where he or she entered. So it’s clear the system doesn’t work.’

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