The Dublin system has collapsed and must be reformed as a matter of urgency, says Migration Committee

The Dublin system, the EU’s legal instrument for identifying the country responsible for examining individual asylum applications, “has collapsed and must be reformed as a matter of urgency”, the Migration Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has concluded, while calling for new burden-sharing mechanisms including mutual recognition of positive decisions on refugee applications and introduction of a common status of "European refugee".

The draft resolution adopted on the basis of a report prepared by Michele Nicoletti (Italy, SOC) states that the Dublin system has “an unacceptably high human cost” for asylum applicants and resource cost to participating states in complying with its lengthy and complicated procedures. Moreover, its operation is compromised, as it depends on the still unfulfilled assumption that all participating states are able to ensure protection of asylum applicants and properly cope with the number of applications they receive.

Without far-reaching reform of the European asylum system as a whole, there is a risk of participating states suspending, or withdrawing from, the Dublin system, “which would cause chaos and confusion”.

Pending the evaluation of the system by the European Commission next year as announced, the members said that measures “can and should be taken now”.

Among these measures, they stressed, in particular, that the family-related responsibility criteria and provisions concerning the best interests of the child should be applied strictly; that recognised refugees should be relocated on a level adequate to ensure equitable burden-sharing amongst the participating states and that a status of ‘European refugee’ should be introduced for beneficiaries of international protection, allowing transfer of residence and exercise of other rights between states.

The Committee also called for an immediate, holistic evaluation of the Dublin system and the wider context within which it operates.

The report will be debated during PACE Autumn session (28 September-2 October 2015).