“[The] Dublin System extends the border and its underlying mechanisms to the interior of the European Union” (Kasparek, 2016, p. 3).

Since the Treaty of Amsterdam, signed in 1997 and operative since 1 May 1999, migration has become a pillar of EU policy. In this new context, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) was created in order to harmonise the legislative framework on asylum of the different Member States. Over the last 20 years, differences in national legislation have undoubtedly been subdued (Brekke, Brochmann, 2015). However, despite this effort, the EU asylum system remains a juxtaposition of diverse, separate, subsystems aimed at regulating the visa system, the right of asylum in the strict sense, and the more general right of immigration (Van den Brink, 2017).

Given the complex nature of the EU asylum system, there is a delicate balance between:

  • the individual rights of migrants protected by the Geneva Convention and subsequent human rights conventions at the international level
  • EU and Member States interests in terms of security and border control (Van den Brink, 2017).

Between 2011 and 2016, the increase in irregular flows to Europe accelerated the Community’s effort to integrate the asylum system further, as demonstrated by the promulgation in 2015 of the European Agenda on Migration [1], the related hotspot approach, and the Relocation programme (20015-2018).

The analysis of EU policies over the last ten years reveals at least three sets of borders: the external borders of the EU; the internal borders between the Member States; borders that define different categories of subjects (Aru, 2019).

The more stringent of the asylum legislation in many national contexts has led to a growing and systematic expulsion of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants from the reception system across Europe (Darling, 2009) (graph). The combination of growing marginality and lack of state support can be read as an ‘active inaction’ (Davies, Isakjee, 2015) on the part of public authorities, or, in other words, a ‘strategic absence’ that has the effect of systematically excluding migrants at a socio-territorial level (Hydman and Mountz, 2007).

[1] European Agenda on Migration, COM(2015) 240.

Aru, S.  (2019). Regimi di confine. La politica UE sull’asilo tra leggi e pratiche. In Orrù, P. (Ed.), Vecchie e nuove questioni: il dualismo nord-sud in epoca contemporanea, Firenze, Franco Cesati Editore, 2019, pp. 13-32.

Brekke, J. P., & Brochmann, G. (2015). Stuck in transit: secondary migration of asylum seekers in Europe, national differences, and the Dublin regulation. Journal of Refugee Studies, 28(2), pp. 145-162.

Darling, J. (2009) Becoming bare life: asylum, hospitality, and the politics of encampment. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27(4), pp. 649–665.

Davies, T., Isakjee, A., & Dhesi, S. (2017) Violent inaction: The necropolitical experience of refugees in Europe. Antipode, 49(5), pp. 1263–1284.

Hyndman, J., Mountz, A. (2007). Refuge or refusal: Geography of exclusion, violent geographies. In Gregory, D., Pred, A. (Eds.) Violent Geographies. Fear, Terror and Political Violence. New York:Routledge, pp. 77–92.

Kasparek, B. (2016). Complementing Schengen: The Dublin system and the European border and migration regime. In Migration policy and practice. New York:Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 59-78.

Van den Brink, T. (2017). The Impact of EU Legislation on National Legal Systems: Towards a New Approach to EU–Member State Relations. Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, 19, pp. 211-235.