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Borders, Refugees and Asylum: where are we at?

Topic of the Month Europe Must Act 2024

To read our report in full, download it here:

EMA - TOM - Borders, Refugees and Asylum - Where are we at (1)
Download PDF • 2.65MB

Ideas of European cooperation on asylum began in the early 1990s, as the Cold War came to a close, the amount of asylum seekers increased and asylum rose as a political issue. It was felt that there was a need for a more unified approach to asylum across Europe, especially when it came to “burden sharing” and having a common asylum procedure.

Many of these issues are still the focus of European debates today. For example, the events of the summer of 2015 sparked multiple Europe-wide discussions about where the responsibility lay for those people arriving at European borders.

In response, there has been a combination of national and EU-level policies and initiatives. This began with a heavy focus on Italy, Greece and Spain which were framed as the “‘soft underbelly...of the common European border towards migratory


Since then, there have also been a multitude of agreements with countries such as Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, Tunisia and (most famously) the 2016 EU-Turkey deal.

There have also been other initiatives, even further afield, as Europe and the EU try to prevent people from moving towards Europe by funding projects in Africa.

For example:

  • The Khartoum Process (2014) - A project focused on the Horn of Africa, with the intention of managing irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling. Although, it has been criticized for its collaboration with oppressive regimes (e.g., Sudan) and intransparent financing schemes.

  • The Emergency Trust Fund In Africa - A (contested) approach that aims at tackling the “root causes”[14] of migration through various development projects.

This brief overview serves to demonstrate a few key ways of understanding people on the move today. Firstly, we need to view the treatment of asylum and refugees as both a national and supranational issue within Europe. Secondly, there is a long- standing European process of managing people moving towards Europe.

Finally, there are multiple approaches used to achieve this, from development aid projects to international agreements.


Read the rest of our report by downloading it here:

EMA - TOM - Borders, Refugees and Asylum - Where are we at (1)
Download PDF • 2.65MB


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