In alignment with the principles set up in the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, Caritas Europa believes that everyone in need should have access to international protection. We advocate that the EU and its Member States guarantee the respect of this principle, and further develop a fair, solidarity- and rights-based common asylum system.
One of the key principles we defend is non-refoulement, "which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law."
Based on the experiences of Caritas member organisations working on a daily basis with asylum seekers and refugees to guarantee their access to adequate international protection, Caritas Europa is able to formulate policy proposals that, when implemented, have a real and positive impact on the lives of families and individuals in need of international protection. In addition to proposing solution-oriented, human rights-based policy changes, we also identify policy areas that are less than the standard we would expect for Europe.
Today, many policy makers around the world consider border control and return policies as the priority in the fight against irregular migration. These policies often lead to abuses, violence and undetermined detention in a total disregard of several human rights provisions. Many Caritas members’ staff and volunteers are working on a daily basis to support the rights and basic needs of migrants, including through the very sensitive question of the return procedure.
The Common European Asylum System includes several Directives and Regulations such as: the Dublin regulation, which determines which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application; the Procedures Directive (soon will be a regulation), which sets up common asylum procedures; the Qualification Directive (soon will be a regulation), which sets up common criteria according to which a refugee status is given or not to an asylum seeker; and the Reception Conditions Directive, which attempts to harmonise reception conditions to ensure that asylum seekers have access to the same reception conditions and services, no matter in which Member State they are.
- Caritas Europa’s position on CEAS and Dublin
The hotspot approach was launched by the European Commission in May 2015, in its European Agenda on Migration. According to the Commission, the hotspot approach aims at ensuring a better collaboration between national authorities and European agencies (European Asylum Support Office, Frontex, and Europol), which will work together at one point to swiftly identify, register, and fingerprint incoming migrants to facilitate the relocation process and to ensure a fair distribution of refugees between EU Member States.
Safe countries of origin
This concept means there is an assumption that based on the general political situation in the country of origin a sufficient guarantee exists that neither political persecution nor inhumane or humiliating punishment or treatment is being carried out. A consequence of this has been that EU Member States have been able to speed up the asylum process and effectively weed out cases that were likely to be rejected with the lasting consequence of reducing the number of asylum applicants accepted in a certain EU Member State. The European Commission has proposed to harmonise the national lists of safe countries of origin.
EU Turkey agreement
The EU and Turkey reached an agreement on 17-18 March, designed to:
- Stem migration and refugee flows from Turkey to Greece by instituting large-scale, fast-track returns of all “irregular migrants” crossing into the Greek islands from Turkey;
- Send irregularly arriving Syrians back to Turkey with the promise that for each Syrian readmitted by Turkey, an EU Member State would agree to resettle another Syrian refugee from Turkey;
- Adhere to an EU commitment to cooperate with Turkey toward endeavoring to establish so-called “safe areas” inside Syria.