Ursula Von der Leyen has made this one of the priorities of her mandate: to reform the Dublin regulation, which requires the first EU country in which the migrant has arrived to process his asylum application.

"I can announce that we are going to abolish [it] and replace it with a new European system of governance of migration," the President of the European Commission told Parliament on Wednesday (September 16th).

States with external borders such as Greece, Italy and Malta welcomed this announcement.

They feel aggrieved by this regulation because of their geographical location which places them in the front line.

On September 23, the President of the European Commission is due to present a new version of migration policy, which has so far been rejected many times.

"There will be common structures for asylum and return. And there will be a new strong mechanism of solidarity," she continued.

A strong end at a time when the fire in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, more than 8,000 adults and 4,000 children in the street, revealed the lack of mutual aid between European countries.

To better understand the challenge of this new European reform of migration policy, France 24 deciphers the Dublin regulation which has divided the Twenty-Seven so much, in particular since the 2015 migration crisis.

  • Why is the Dublin Regulation dysfunctional?

The flaws have always existed but were revealed by the migration crisis of 2015, believe migration policy experts.

This text signed in 2013 and called "Dublin III" is based on an agreement between the members of the European Union as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

It provides that the examination of an exile's asylum request is the responsibility of the first country of entry into Europe.

If a migrant passed through Italy arrives for example in France, the French authorities are, in theory, not required to register the Dubliné's request.

The signatory countries of the Dublin regulation.

© European Union

Faced with the influx of refugees in recent years, countries with external borders, such as Greece and Italy, felt abandoned by the rest of Europe.

"The load is too important for this Mediterranean bloc", estimates Matthieu Tardis, researcher at the Migration and Citizenship Center of Ifri (French Institute for International Relations).

The text is thought of "as a mechanism of State responsibility and not of solidarity", he believes.

Its implementation is also difficult to set up.

France and Germany, which have concentrated the majority of asylum requests since the beginning of the 2000s, are struggling to return the Dublins.

In France, only 11.5% were transferred to the country of entry.

Across the Rhine, the rate does not exceed 15%.

Consequence: many of them remain "stranded" in migrant camps in Calais or in the north of Paris.

The waiting period for asylum seekers is also considered too long.

A refugee passing through Italy, who comes to submit an asylum application in France, can wait up to 18 months before having a return.

"During this period, he found himself in a situation of uncertainty which was very damaging for him but also for the European Union. It was a lose-lose system", comments Matthieu Tardis.  

This regulation is not adapted to asylum seekers, one outbid the Cimade (inter-movement committee with evacuees).

In a report, the organization describes this system as "the infernal machine of European asylum".

"It does not take into account family ties or the languages ​​spoken by the refugees," said the association's asylum manager, Gérard Sadik.

Seven years after seeing the light of day, the regulation was dealt the final blow by the confinement linked to sanitary conditions to fight against Covid-19.

"During this period, no transfer took place", we assure Cimade.

  • Can the solidarity mechanism replace it?

"There will be a strong new mechanism of solidarity," promised Ursula von der Leyen, without giving more details.

On this point, we already know that positions diverge, even oppose each other, between the Twenty-Seven.

The north-west bloc (Germany, France, Austria, Benelux) remains anchored on the current principle of responsibility, but accepts to accompany it with a solidarity mechanism.

What criteria is the distribution of the number of asylum seekers based on?

How to select them?

No decision has yet been taken.

"They are ready to compromise because they want to show that the European Union can move forward and act on the migration issue", assures Matthieu Tardis.

On the other hand, the so-called Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia), not very inclined to welcome, categorically rejects any principle of solidarity.

"They say they are ready to send financial resources, staff for border control but refuse to receive asylum seekers", details the researcher from Ifri.

As for the Mediterranean bloc (Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Spain), questions remain on the proposal of the northwestern bloc: will the solidarity mechanism be activated permanently or exceptionally?

Which populations are eligible for asylum?

And who is responsible for the return?

"Since the withdrawal of the Northern League from the coalition in the Italian government, dialogue is once again possible," says Matthieu Tardis.

However, an agreement seems essential to show that the European Union is not totally bankrupt on this file.

"But the Visegrad bloc does not necessarily have this issue in mind," he adds.

Only the health situation linked to Covid-19, which places Eastern countries in a fragile economic situation, could change their position, notes the researcher.

  • And the pay-as-you-go mechanism?

The pay-as-you-go mechanism, in the pipes since 2016, comes back regularly to the negotiating table.

Its principle: the country's reception capacity depends on its demographic and economic weight.

It would be 30% for Germany, against a third of requests today, and 20% for France, which has 18%.

"It would be a winning option for these two countries, but not for the Visegrad bloc which opposes it", decrypts Gérard Sadik, the asylum manager of Cimade.

This doctrine would be based on a computerized system, which would list all the data of asylum seekers in a single database.

But the use of artificial intelligence for the benefit of the administrative procedure does not present only advantages, in the eyes of Cimade: "The algorithm will not be able to take into account the family ties of asylum seekers", Judge Gérard Sadik.   

  • What are the chances for a redesign?

The European Union has already tried several times to reform this sea serpent. A text called "Dublin IV" had already been in the pipeline since 2016, by proposing for example that the responsibility of the first host State be final, but it has been buried in the face of internal dissension. 

It remains to be seen what is the exact content of the new version which will be presented on September 23 by Ursula Van der Leyen.

At La Cimade, we fear a hardening of the migration policy, and in particular a strengthening of border control.  

Be that as it may, the negotiations promise to be "complicated and difficult" because "the interests of member countries are not the same," Greek Deputy Minister of Migration Giorgos Koumoutsakos recalled on Thursday (September 17th).

And above all, the new version will have to obtain the agreement of Parliament, but also that of the States.

The overhaul is still a long way off.

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