In view of the unprecedented number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe this year, on 11 August BBC World Service Newsday spoke with Dr Cathryn Costello about the deficiencies of the EU asylum process. She said that while there are very clear rules about the treatment of asylum seekers while their claims are being processed, and clear obligations to register asylum claims, the Dublin system for allocating responsibility to the first state in which an asylum seeker arrives is not working. Most asylum claims are addressed in countries such as Germany and Sweden, not in Italy or Greece.
However, Dr Costello also highlights that the Dublin system is not the only substantive shortcoming of the EU’s asylum policy. A ‘massive’ shortcoming is the “lack of safe access to asylum” resulting from “the combination of visa policies and carrier sanctions measures”, despite EU politicians saying that there legitimate ways of applying for asylum. As Dr Costello argues, for people from ‘refugee-producing countries’ it is “extremely difficult to get a visa to travel to any EU country and it’s not possible to address your asylum claim to an embassy abroad, and you would, without that visa, find it almost impossible to board a legitimate ferry or an aircraft.”
She adds that “we basically have an asylum system that requires people to be on the territory and immigration controls that require people to have visas, and those visas are not available for refugees.”