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We propose a 'matching system' that simultaneously gives refugees some choice over where they seek protection and respects states' priorities over refugees they can accept. Syrians fleeing the current conflict have been repeatedly told that they cannot ‘choose’ the state in which they seek long-term protection. In Australia, the idea that asylum seekers are ‘shopping’ for the best sanctuary forms a persistent part of the rhetoric around keeping them out. In these and other cases, the premise is that it is unjustifiable for refugees to be allowed some choice over where they seek protection. The consequence enshrined in the Dublin Regulation is that refugees may apply for asylum in only one European Union country. From the perspective of states, refugee flows are chaotic, unpredictable and widely regarded as socially disruptive and destabilising. Everyone recognises that the Dublin Regulation, which seeks to address this by placing the obligation to render asylum on the first EU country an asylum seeker reaches, is not fit for purpose. In parallel, there is an urgent need to design systems to overcome the political deadlock among European states over asylum.

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Forced Migration Review


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date





80 - 82