Severe pressure to revamp EU asylum system

In spring and summer 2016, the Commission issued a total of seven proposals to revamp the EU's common asylum policy. The proposals seek to address the refugee crisis, which culminated in 2015, and the need to improve the management of migration to the EU. It has become evident that existing EU regulations cannot cope with the pressure created by large numbers of asylum seekers.

The key proposal deals with reforming the Dublin system. The current system proved unable to handle the record numbers of asylum seekers. The new system must be able to guarantee that the same rules apply across the EU.

Determining the country responsible for processing the asylum application must be clear-cut, and the country where the asylum seeker first arrived is responsible for registration. Sufficient incentives and obligations are needed to ensure that this goal is met.

It is very important not only to determine the responsible country but also to adopt proposals that aim to streamline and speed up the asylum procedure. Member States must have the means to weed out groundless applications and process them quickly. The proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation in particular is key to achieving these goals.

By unifying decision-making and reception conditions in Member States, the EU wants – for example – to reduce the unlawful movement of asylum seekers between EU countries during the asylum process. Such movement between Member States slows down the processing of asylum applications and makes it more difficult.

All seven proposals are still under discussion in the relevant EU institutions. Finland is actively involved in the reform of the common European asylum system and aims to promote rapid solutions through negotiations.

Finland fulfilling its responsibility

The EU wants to share responsibility for managing the flow of asylum seekers between Member States and to ease the pressure caused by migration on Southern Europe. Since 2015, Member States have relocated asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. As frontline Member States, Greece and Italy have become under particular pressure during the migration crisis.

The temporary emergency relocation scheme is now coming to an end, and Finland has accepted its quota of relocation as agreed between Member States. The applications of asylum seekers arriving in Finland through relocation are processed in the same manner as those of all other asylum seekers. The EU is currently discussing a more permanent mechanism for sharing responsibility as part of the reform of the Dublin system.

Relocation of refugees from third countries is also part of international responsibility-sharing. Finland participates in the reception of quota refugees in accordance with the national decisions made annually. Important target areas for the management of migration flows are now Turkey and the route from Africa through Libya to the central Mediterranean.