Severe pressure to revamp EU asylum system

In spring and summer 2016, the Commission issued six 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 identical rules apply to all Member States.

A key issue is also what happens when migrants cross the union's external border for the first time. Determining the country responsible for processing the asylum application must be clear-cut: the country where migrants first arrive is responsible for registration.

Sufficient incentives and obligations are needed to ensure that this goal is met.

Of particular importance are proposals to streamline the asylum procedure. Member States must have the means to weed out groundless applications and process them quickly.

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 the process down and makes it more difficult to process asylum applications.

Finland is participating actively in revamping the common asylum system.

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. EU Member States have agreed to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. Greece and Italy faced unprecedented pressure when the number of asylum seekers grew exponentially in 2015.

Only nationalities, 75 per cent of whose asylum seekers have received international protection, are entitled to relocation with respect to the entire EU area.

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 for all other asylum seekers’.

In addition, EU countries have pledged to accept Syrian refugees from North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, and from areas with regional development and protection programmes.

Member States have agreed to resettle 32,772 Syrian refugees from Turkey to EU territory. The procedure is voluntary for Member States. This agreement with Turkey concerns Syrian refugees residing in Turkey. The EU has agreed to take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greece and Italy.

Finland, Germany and the Netherlands were the first EU countries to receive Syrian refugees from Turkey.