Written by Anita Orav, Eva-Maria Poptcheva, Alessandro D’Alfonso and Mitja Brus,
Graphics by Eulalia Claros, Christian Dietrich and Giulio Sabbati,
In 2015, the unprecedented surge of migrant flows to the EU continued. The number of irregular border crossings detected in 2015 – 1.83 million – was six times higher than in 2014, already a record year, and 17 times higher than in 2013. A total of 1.25 million asylum applications were lodged in the EU in 2015. These developments put enormous pressure both on national border authorities and on the asylum systems of individual Member States, sharply highlighting the shortcomings of migration management in the EU.
Within the current EU asylum system, individual Member States are responsible for processing asylum applications. By means of its Directives and Regulations, the EU has reinforced the standards and obligations for providing international protection, complying with the commitments of all EU Member States under the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention. The EU moved towards greater harmonisation of asylum rules in 2013 with the completion of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the core element of which is the Dublin III Regulation.
The Dublin system requires that, by default, the first Member State an asylum-seeker enters is responsible for examining his or her application for international protection. However, by virtue of their geographical position, certain Member States on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece, Italy, Malta and Hungary, are overburdened with arriving asylum-seekers. This has led to both poor conditions for asylum-seekers and to lower rates of asylum being granted. As a consequence, many asylum-seekers travel to other countries, such as Germany or Sweden, where they believe they have a higher chance of a successful application and better reception conditions. This creates a situation where only five of the 28 Member States – Germany, Sweden, Austria, France and Italy – received 75% of all first time asylum applications. Moreover, secondary movements of asylum-seekers from their country of entry to other EU Member States create tensions in the Schengen area, resulting in temporary reintroduction of internal border controls in the borderless free movement area. In this context, commentators suggested that the situation could be best addressed through a holistic approach relying on greater EU support and solidarity from less-affected Member States.
In response to the European Council statement and the European Parliament resolution of April 2015, the Commission presented the European Agenda on Migration on 13 May 2015, offering solutions to the escalating situation. In addition to the legislative proposals from September 2015 for emergency relocation of asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, the Commission presented a package of legislative proposals to reform the current migration management system on 4 May 2016. The proposals, which still need to be approved by the European Parliament and secure a qualified majority in the Council, cover areas such as visas, Schengen and asylum. More proposals are expected in July 2016.
While the Council and the European Parliament proceed to examine the proposed changes, it is useful to take stock of the existing system and recent developments. An EPRS animated infographic covers four main aspects of the current migration and asylum situation and policy. Firstly, it illustrates the flows of migration in Europe, with comparative statistical data up to 2015. Secondly, it describes the current policy for asylum in the EU, briefly discussing the problems encountered and solutions offered to date. The third section outlines the core asylum procedures, presenting the different steps along a timeline, from embarking on the journey to reach Europe to acquiring legal residency status in one of the EU Member States. The fourth section provides an overview of the funding tools that the EU has to complement the Member States’ efforts in the areas of migration, asylum and borders – both, inside and outside the Union.
Unfamiliar with animated infographics? Throughout the infographic, you, the reader decides if and when to access additional details, such as definitions, discussion or further reading. The introduction offers quick access to the four main sections. You can always move to another section using the menu to the right-hand side. Inside each section, the majority of the visuals offer some sort of interactivity, where you can obtain further information by clicking or on mouse-over. Inside the text, you will see several ‘light-bulbs’. Each of these offers more detailed textual information or an explanation of the visuals. At the end of each chapter a green icon leads to our selection of more in-depth information relevant to the section. The animated infographic is optimised for desktop computers and landscape tablets. This animated infographic is accessible via the Europarl Think Tank page.
Take a look and let us know what you think of it!
Visit the European Parliament page on ‘EU migrant crisis: facts and figures‘.