European lawmakers mull controversial changes to Dublin rules

European lawmakers mull controversial changes to Dublin rules

Today, the European Parliament will consider changes to the Dublin rules—the system that regulates how EU countries deal with asylum

Dublin rules collapse

Photo: Sergey Ponomarev/NYT

Today, the European Parliament will consider changes to the Dublin rules—the system that regulates how EU countries deal with asylum seekers.

The current rules mandate that the country in which a migrant first arrives is responsible for processing refugee applications. This process usually taking at least six months and imposes a significant financial burden on the receiving country.

This system collapsed in 2015, when over a million asylum seekers arrived, 80% of them in Greece, the world’s most indebted country. Unsurprisingly, Greek authorities thereby abdicated their responsibilities under the Dublin rules and allowed migrants to flock north via the Balkan route.

With backing from Germany, France, Italy, Greece and others, the reforms to be discussed today seek to more evenly distribute the migrant burden among the entire Union.

Not everyone agrees. Populist anti-immigration governments in Poland and Hungary rejected a similar temporary arrangement in 2015 and have dismissed the current reforms. While the pro-reform camp has enough support to institute the changes, doing so risks exacerbating already strained relations between the two countries.

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