FMR: Asylum in Europe

2015 Forced Migration ReviewDeadline for submission of articles: 7th September 2015

Although the number of asylum applications in Europe remains at a very modest level compared with many other regions in the world, the number is on the rise and in 2015 an unprecedented number of refugees and other migrants have been dying in their attempts to reach European ports and find safety. The plight of migrants and refugees on the Mediterranean Sea has made frequent headline news, triggering impassioned debate among Europe’s citizens as well as its politicians.

With the lure of the EU as a place of safety for many people fleeing various forms of insecurity, conflict and oppression further afield, the increase in asylum applications is putting great pressure on the asylum systems of an increasing number of Member States. The uneven distribution of asylum applications raises questions as to the lack of effective responsibility sharing with respect to international obligations. The secondary movements of asylum seekers are triggered by, among other factors, the lack of both adequate reception systems and realistic possibilities for integration in the countries of first arrival.

In response, the need for an improved joint approach has become an urgent agenda item for the EU as a whole, with institutional and political actors holding vastly differing positions as to the most equitable and effective way forward.

The EU is widely seen as having the world’s most extensively developed regional asylum framework. This framework, however, rests on mechanisms which violate refugees’ rights and, despite years of debate and negotiation, still does not provide fair, efficient and consistent asylum systems across the EU. The deaths of migrants on the Mediterranean are due not only to smugglers’ callousness but also to the lack of legal access to the EU for those most in need, and to measures that have been taken to suppress other means of travel to the EU.

This issue of FMR, to be published in December 2015, will discuss the complexities of the European asylum debate and place it in its broader context.

The FMR Editors are looking for submissions reflecting a diverse range of perspectives which provide analysis, recommendations and examples of good practice and which will address currently topical questions such as the following:

  • What is known about who arrives in the EU seeking asylum and what motivates them to travel to and within Europe?
  • How does the fact of asylum seekers and refugees being part of ‘mixed flows’ complicate their reception and protection?
  • Is the terminology relating to asylum seekers, migrants, refugees, smuggling and trafficking – the basis for much political and popular confusion – helpful in addressing the problems?
  • How can protection at sea be assured for asylum seekers and other migrants? What would be viable and protection-sensitive responses to irregular mixed migration by sea?
  • Would legal access to EU countries, resettlement or external processing mitigate the need for dangerous and irregular journeys to the EU?
  • Why has effective implementation of a Common European Asylum System proven so challenging? Does the weakness lie in the standards themselves, in national policy or practice, or in lack of effective oversight?
  • How well have implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the EU standards under the Common European Asylum System been put into practice?
  • To what extent do the recast legislation and the evolution of the jurisprudence allow for better protection of vulnerable asylum seekers, in particular of unaccompanied minors?
  • Can reassurances or incentives be offered to EU countries to improve standards of reception and protection in light of concerns that higher standards would attract more asylum claims?
  • Can responsibilities be redistributed more equitably across Europe, and what would be necessary?
  • Can access to fair procedures for onward movement of asylum seekers and refugees within the EU be developed? How do asylum policies fit with the EU’s Schengen system and rights of free movement?
  • Are more effective and efficient asylum systems being developed at national level?
  • Should new asylum regimes in transit countries – some of which are also reception countries – be considered?
  • How can local protection capacity in countries in regions of origin be reinforced?
  • What lessons can be learned from other regions that receive asylum seekers?
  • How do asylum policy and the objectives of durable solutions for refugees fit with border management and enforcement policies?
  • Would stronger links between interior policy, development and foreign policy be beneficial in this context?
  • How does humanitarian/refugee support connect with asylum policy?
  • How can civil society, including diasporas in Europe, be effectively engaged?
  • What is the relationship between media, public opinion, politics and policies, and how can the quality of the debate be improved?
  • What do Europe’s current dilemmas in addressing migration tell us about the equity and sustainability of the global protection system as a whole?
  • Can new ideas to resolve the current asylum policy impasse be developed incrementally, or is a paradigm shift necessary?

Deadline for submission of articles: 7th September 2015

If you are interested in submitting an article, please email the Editors in advance with an outline of what you propose to write about.

Maximum length: 2,500 words.

Please note that space is always at a premium in FMR and that published articles are usually shorter than this maximum length. Your article, if accepted for publication, may well be shortened but you will of course be consulted about any editing changes.

Please consult our Guidelines for authors at:

Authors are reminded that FMR seeks to include articles with a gendered approach or a gender analysis as part of them. We are also particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by these questions. If you can put us in touch with displaced people and/or local organisation representatives who might be interested in writing, please do email us; we are happy to work with individuals to help them develop an article.

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