People from all over the world have always come to Europe in search for a new beginning or a better future.
Never before though, European countries had to withstand such an overwhelming challenge. Together with long-lasting wars and ethnic cleansings throughout Africa and Asia, the burst of the Arab Spring, especially the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, has prompted many to run away from home
and risk everything in order to reach the safer and richer European Union.
asylum seekers keep flowing into the Member States’ borders at a rate that risks to become unsustainable if not well managed, an effort that is top-priority for assuring the inalienable human right to life and security for anybody that is fleeing war and persecution.
• PHENOMENON •
The number of asylum application requests has been skyrocketing in the last five years and the European Union has been trying ever since to coordinate its members’ response by both revising and creating new regulations and directives.
from 2010 to 2015
“Migrants and refugees increasingly make use of the same routes and means of transport to get to an overseas destination. Many of these movements are irregular, in the sense that they often take place without the requisite documentation, use unauthorized border crossing points or involve smugglers.” - UNHCR The major pathways for irregular migration have been outlined by Frontex, the European agency that is in charge of the management and control of the external borders of the EU, with Italy, Greece and Hungary as the most used entry points in 2013.
Created in 1999, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) has been expanded and revised by the European Union ever since, striving for an efficient procedure that could shorten the evaluation period for applications and ensure proper resources to shelter and feed refugees. This would both discourage “pretending” asylum seekers who take advantage of bureaucratic failures and inefficiencies and guarantee safety and aid to righteous refugees. The CEAS operates in a legislative framework that consists of different directives and
regulations: Asylum Procedures Directive, Reception Conditions Directive, Qualification Directive, Dublin Regulation, Eurodac Regulation. Even if the European Union tries to pressure Member States into following these rules, countries often fail to apply them, justifying the violation by calling on the lack of resources or the faultiness of the directives. The next visualization summarizes how the CEAS works when an asylum seeker arrives to EU’s borders.
Once applicants reach the border of a Member State, legally or illegally, they have the right to express to authorities the intention of requesting asylum.(
Asylum Procedures Directive)
After fingerprints are taken from the applicants, the informations are sent to the EURODAC database and a preliminary interview takes place to find out which State is in charge of reviewing the request.(
Eurodac Regulation &
Applicants receive material reception conditions, such as housing and food, in dedicated structures while the application procedure is taken care of. (
Reception Conditions Directive)
A case worker trained in EU law interviews the applicant to determine whether he/she may qualify for refugee status, subsidiary protection status or humanitarian status.(
Qualification Directive & Asylum Procedures Directive)
If asylum is not granted at first instance, the refusal may be appealed in court. In case of confirmation of the negative decision by the court, the applicant may be returned to his/her country of origin.
When refugee, subsidiary protection or humanitarian status is granted, the applicant obtains certain rights, such as access to a residence permit, the labour market and healthcare. The degree of the rights acquired vary from country to country. (Qualification directive)
• REACTION •
Choosing the new future
When asylum seekers are forced to flee from their home country, they will probably try to go where they think they have the best chance of improving their living conditions. They often go where they can reunite with family members already abroad, or where there is already a strong community of their nationality (for example because their country
was once a colony), or simply wherever they think it’s richer and more developed.So only in 2014, eight Member States were facing the highest number of arrivals with more than 10.000 asylum applicants each, while the most relevant share of applicants were coming from again eight countries, each with more than 10.000 requests.
The visualization below shows the number of asylum application requests in 2014, relating the top-8 countries of origin with the top-8
host EU countries and then comparing, for each country of origin, the rate of accepted/rejected requests.
Searching for hidden patterns
Is there a common behavior between Member States in accepting or rejecting people from a given country over the years? Do France and Germany for example have similar acceptance rates towards Syrians or Albanians? In order to answer these questions, acceptance rates of the top-8 EU host countries from 2010 to 2014 were analyzed to find shared patterns. As a result, none of the Member States could be really clustered together, each country making its own way, showing over the years similarities sometimes with some country, sometimes with some other.
Nevertheless, there are two countries that manifest a very distinctive behavior, at times even almost opposite to the European average: Italy and Greece. In the following visualization, Italy’s and Greece’s acceptance rates are compared to the European average, with data related to the top-8 asylum seekers’ nationalities and divided by type of status granted: Geneva convention status, Subsidiary protection status, Humanitarian status.Side note: Greece never received any application requests from Kosovo.
• COOPERATION •
The EU is trying very hard to overcome this difficult crisis united as a whole. While continuously revising its directives in order to better address the developing issue, the European Union also provides its members with money drawn from two different funds allocated every seven years. The Internal Security Fund supports national efforts to control external borders. Here the ISF from 2013 is showed in relation with irregular migration flows from the same year.
The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) supports national efforts to improve reception capacities, ensure that asylum procedures are in line with Union standards, integrate migrants at local and regional levels and increase the effectiveness of return programmes. Below the AMIF from 2013 is showed in relation with the number or asylum application requests from the same year.
As it has been explained earlier, the European Union approves the budget for these funds every seven years. The following visualization shows the funds actually given to Member States from 2007 to 2013 and the budget
allocated for the period 2014-2020. Since the name of the funds changed in the two periods, a texture is used to group together the same type of entry. Emergency funds are related to any change to the initial budget.
In recent years a growing number of people were forced to travel the road to asylum, hoping to find welcoming european countries able to offer them a new opportunity away from war and persecutions. On the other side, the European Union is trying hard to withstand the huge number of incoming migrants and asylum seekers, developing common groundrules and procedures as well as supporting financially Member States, with the aim of taking some
pressure off them, especially border states. In spite of this effort, European countries often fail to stick to the above directives, following independent political agendas in terms of migration policies. The EU needs to find a better and more efficient solution to coordinate its response and to manage the migration flows, or those inalienable rights that Europe claims to defend will only be words pulled out of thin air.