Yesterday, Professor Alexander Betts appeared on the Al Jazeera programme ‘Inside Story’ with host Mike Hanna, speaking alongside RSC Advisory Board member and Secretary-General of the European Council for Refugees & Exiles, Michael Diedring, and Refugee Program Coordinator Gabor Gyulai, Refugee Programme Coordinator in the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. The panel explored the lack of a coordinated approach among European leaders in responding to the crisis, and criticisms that Hungarian policies towards refugees entering Europe, in particular, strip their human rights.
Professor Betts debated that Europe needs a clear policy vision and strategy to address and prioritise this urgent international crisis. In recent months, European governments have “focused on the financial crisis and supporting Greece, and it is now time for Europe to step up to the plate to offer both a clear policy vision and a political strategy for collective action.” The strategy would need to address global refugee policy to support countries in the regions of origin, like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; the European Union level, in terms of responsibility sharing; and at the national level to reaffirm countries’ responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Professor Betts also argued that in theory, Europe has a common refugee and asylum policy, but that the policy needs to be reinvigorated in order to encourage collective action. Professor Betts said: “We need to reinvigorate the whole of European’s common asylum policy… The present Dublin regulation system places a disproportionate responsibility on front line countries such as Hungary, Greece, and Italy, while more distant countries like the UK… decline to play a proportionate part in sharing responsibility across Europe. …The Hungarian position is atrocious, but Hungary and other countries need support, and we need leadership from across the European Union.”