Final Policy Briefs

The EU-Turkey cooperation in the field of migration and asylum:

What is wrong with it and how to fix it?

Meltem Ineli Ciger (Suleyman Demirel University), Orçun Ulusoy (VU Amsterdam), Gamze Ovacık (Baskent University) / February 2024

The EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016, the EU Turkey Readmission Agreement, and the EU-Turkey funding instruments in migration, including the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, constitute EU-Turkey instruments for cooperation in migration and asylum. The EU-Turkey Statement, which was adopted more than seven years ago, has been unfortunately adopted as a model for other EU-third country cooperation arrangements in the field of migration. It is important to analyse the EU-Turkey migration cooperation instruments and how they are implemented in practice, take stock of what went right and wrong, and finally draw lessons on how to improve the EU third country cooperation instruments in terms of transparency, accountability, compatibility with international law, effectiveness, and alignment of these instruments with the Global Compact on Refugees. This policy brief, which is based on ASILE reports on the EU-Turkey migration cooperation arrangements authored mainly by national researchers who are Turkish legal academics, seeks to highlight problematic issues relating to the EU-Turkey cooperation instruments in the field of migration and asylum and their implementation and suggests ways to improve these issues.

Tunisia-EU cooperation inmigration management:

From Mobility Partnership to containment

Fatma Raach (Tunisian Association for International law) / February 2024

The particularity characterizing Tunisia EU cooperation in migration management is the complexity of the instruments and agreements governing different issues. These instruments cover aspects related to migration, asylum, borders, and mobility. The main arrangements are related to the financing of projects (through the EU Trust Fund for Africa – EUTF) or the so called ‘Mobility Partnership’ concluded in 2014 within the framework of the EU Tunisia Action Plan (2013 – 2017).

Furthermore, EU countries have bilateral agreements with Tunisia that cover topics such as readmission or visa facilitation for Tunisian nationals. The use of a multitude of instruments mixing both the binational dimension and the dimension involving the European Union, only complicates the landscape and makes transparent management of migration with Tunisia difficult.

Assessing the effectiveness of South Africa’s Zimbabwean Dispensation policy

Fatima Khan (University of Cape Town) / February 2024

This policy brief assesses the effectiveness of South Africa’s Zimbabwean Dispensation policy. It starts by providing an overview of the use of temporary protection for Zimbabweans by the South African government. Initially the temporary permit (the Zimbabwean Dispensation Permit) was issued for a period of 3 years, but its renewal on three occasions amounting to a total of 13 years led to a legitimate expectation of further renewals. This policy brief further explores whether the temporary protection granted to Zimbabweans by South Africa was a viable form of international protection and whether it could be considered a ‘complementary pathway’ as identified in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) or whether it, in fact, amounts to a form of containment or contained mobility.

Creating an Inclusive Refugee Response in Jordan

Lewis Turner (Newcastle University) / February 2024

This policy brief focuses on people seeking international protection in Jordan, which hosts around 750,000 people of concern to UNHCR, on whom this brief focuses. Based on extensive and original ASILE Project research from 2021-2022, it outlines key findings related to two research themes: protection seekers’ status in Jordan, and their right to work. The research found that many protection seekers from Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen experience discrimination by the government, donors, humanitarian actors and Jordanian society, and many cannot even register with UNHCR. Secondly, on the right to work, it found that while there are welcome efforts to facilitate Syrian labour market participation, decent work has been sidelined by the focus on formal targets. These efforts are also problematically focused exclusively on Syrians. 

The Protracted Rohingya Refugee Situation in Bangladesh: 

Towards Reducing Precarity and Increasing Responsibility Sharing

M Sanjeeb Hossain / February 2024

Within a global refugee regime tainted by a culture of responsibility shifting as opposed to the principle of responsibility sharing under the UN Global Compact on Refugees, over a million Rohingya people are currently living in Bangladesh, one of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) from the Global South. With a limited ‘right to have rights’, the status of the Rohingya people in Bangladesh is ‘precarious’. This precarity is further exacerbated by limited employment opportunities, which allow them to serve as ‘volunteers’ and informally access the labour market. These opportunities provide some scope to earn money in amounts that are barely enough to sustain themselves but, in the end, far from sufficient to make Rohingya refugees financially empowered or self-reliant. This Policy Brief reveals the precarious lives of the Rohingya people in Bangladesh by shedding light on their status and right to work.

No Turning Back: Greece and the EU–Turkey Statement Seven Years On

Angeliki Dimitriadi  / December 2023

Seven years after the Statement between the European Union and Türkiye on the admission and return of Syrians arriving in Greece, the EU, Türkiye and Greece are still negotiating how to renew their cooperation on migration. The Statement continues to serve as a blueprint, despite the fact that the cooperation framework with Türkiye only existed for a brief moment. In Greece, meanwhile, the Statement has reshaped the asylum system into a laboratory of restrictive approaches characterized by decreasing.

We show that Greek domestic policy actors have been most important in implementing current policies. However, European Union institutions (the Justice and Home Affairs Council and the European Council, but especially the European Commission and the EU Agency for Asylum) have played a significant role in encouraging, facilitating and financing policy changes. 

Domestic politics in Greece make drastically altering migration policy unrealistic in the short term. However, even under current circumstances in the short term, policies could be more transparent and more could be done to foster accountability. 

Addressing Protection Implications of EU Extra-Territorial Migration Cooperation:

Policy recommendations

 Solveig Als, Kathrine Starup and Cecilia Vejby-Andersen / November 2023

As a major global actor, the EU and its member states have a pivotal role to play in contributing to addressing the global challenge of forced displacement. They are significant contributors when it comes to supporting refugee hosting states in coping with the task of hosting large populations of refugees and displaced persons through financial and technical assistance including investing in strengthening asylum capacity and supporting self-reliance of refugee populations – all well in line with the commitments of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

At the same time measures and policies that contravene efforts for global responsibility sharing and undermine solidarity with countries and regions hosting the majority of the World’s refugees continue to dominate the EU approach to asylum and migration.

Shortcomings in EU Cooperation for Externalization of Asylum:

Lessons from Niger, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey

Bachirou Ayouba Tinni, Olga Djurovic and Rados Djurovic, Abdoulaye Hamadou, Meltem Ineli-Ciger, Gamze Ovacık, Fatma Raach, Hiba Sha’ath, Thomas Spijkerboer and Orçun Uluso / November 2023

This Policy Brief addresses European Union (EU) support for asylum systems in selected third countries – i.e. Niger, Serbia, Tunisia and Türkiye – through a range of instruments including technical means (advice, training, capacity building), operational assistance (such as Frontex operations in non-EU countries) as well as financial support for refugee status determination, refugee reception, migration and border management. Specific focus is given to the instruments’ compliance with transparency and accountability principles and international law, the extent to which the results achieved have been oriented towards facilitating mobility or the containment of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as their alignment with the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

Emphasizing Fairness and Effectiveness:

Best Practices for Ensuring Additionality and Fostering Refugee Agency in Complementary Pathways for Refugees in Canada and Beyond

Andrew Fallone and Roberto Cortinovis / October 2023

This Policy Brief argues that complementary pathways must not be relied upon to such a great extent that they supplant or substitute state-led refugee resettlement programs. The selective nature of purpose-built complementary pathways must not foster the emergence of preferential access for refugees whose profiles are deemed most ‘desirable’. All applicants must enjoy the same level of procedural fairness when applying for complementary pathways, in particular adequate levels of accountability and transparency of admission procedures (which may be carried out by both public and private actors) and access to effective means of legal recourse. Finally, enhancing resettled refugees’ capacity to exercise agency throughout the selection process and in the settlement phase requires that all individuals have access to similar material resources and support systems to do so. 

Asylum and Social Inclusion of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in Brazil

Natália Medina Araújo (Federal University of West Bahia) and Patrícia Ramos Barros / October 2023

This Policy Brief examines Migration and Asylum Governance Instruments that are affecting asylum, refugeehood and socio-economic inclusion, especially the right to decent work. It analyses the main policy challenges characterizing the arrival of immigrants and refugees from the Global South in the last decade that spurred a series of innovative responses, including the creation of Operation Welcome and the prima facie recognition of Venezuelan refugees. The Policy Brief outlines the main results of fieldwork research conducted in Brazil. It then provides a set of policy recommendations aimed at promoting protection and social inclusion of refugees in Brazil, and ensuring the implementation of rights that are already protected both by international and national legal standards.

EU Asylum Reform and the Western Balkans:

What Does the Future Hold for Serbia?

 Julian Lehmann (GPPI) / September 2023

In June 2023, the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed to reform the Common European Asylum system and drastically change how asylum applications are handled at the EU’s external borders. In the future, EU countries will be allowed to more easily reject asylum applications as inadmissible when they deem that an applicant could find protection in a non-EU country. The reform will have consequences beyond the EU, too, as Serbia’s case shows. The reform is likely to incentivize pushbacks at Serbia’s borders, thus exacerbating a broader rule-of-law crisis, and counteract years-long political and financial efforts by EU institutions to build a functioning asylum system. It may also alter EU-Serbia relations and harm the accession process.

Policing Search and Rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean

Sergio Carrera, Davide Colombi and Roberto Cortinovis / February 2023

The policing of NGOs and human rights defenders providing humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and immigrants, as well as search and rescue (SAR) in the Mediterranean has reached a new low due to the current far-right Italian government.

This CEPS In-Depth Analysis paper examines the Italian government’s practices of responsibility evasion and selective disembarkation of SAR NGO vessels, the ensuing diplomatic row with the French government over the 2022 Ocean Viking affair, and the introduction of a Code of Conduct sanctioning SAR NGOs in January 2023. The paper argues that upholding justice at sea is not a ‘pick and choose’ game for governments and migration policymakers. Some of the human rights at stake are absolute in nature, and therefore accept no derogation or weighing with other policy interests. Policing the work of civil society actors and a policy of selective disembarkation run contrary to EU law and constitute clear indicators of a systematic threat to national and EU constitutional principles. This calls for effective and timely EU enforcement measures, to uphold a justice-centred approach that fully respects the dignity of every person and the safeguarding of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.

Externalization and the UN Global Compact on Refugees: 

Unsafety as Ripple Effect

ALS, Solveig; CARRERA, Sergio; TAN, Nikolas Feith; VEDSTED-HANSEN, Jens / December 2022

This Policy Brief examines recent externalization policy and legal initiatives in Europe that are affecting asylum seekers’ and refugees’ access to asylum. It analyses the main legal issues and policy challenges characterizing the externalisation of border controls – including the so-called push backs and pull backs by several EU Member States, and the recent unilateral initiatives to externalise asylum processing by the United Kingdom and Denmark governments, in light of their commitments under the UN Global Compact on Refugees and their obligations in international refugee and human rights law. The Policy Brief outlines the profoundly harmful consequences of externalisation of asylum initiatives considering the lessons learned from similar international experiences and their condemnation by relevant United Nations human rights monitoring bodies. It then provides a set of policy recommendations aimed at guaranteeing a genuine system of inter-state responsibility sharing in line with the UN GCR, where the EU plays an active role towards its implementation, and which fully upholds international refugee and human rights standards.

Implementing the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees?

Global Asylum Governance and the Role of the European Union

CARRERA, Sergio; VOSYLIUTE, Lina; BRUMAT, Leiza; TAN, Nikolas Feith / June 2021

This Policy Brief presents the preliminary findings and policy recommendations emerging from the first 18 months of the ASILE H2020 project (Global Asylum Governance and the EU’s Role). It provides an analysis of asylum governance instruments that have been portrayed as ‘promising practices’ in countries like Brazil, Canada, Jordan, South Africa as well as in the EU. These include instruments like resettlement, community sponsorships, humanitarian admission programmes, and trade deals focused on refugee labour market integration in hosting countries. The Brief highlights that while these instruments present some relevant mobility and inclusionary components, they also display a set of exclusionary features which operationalise hierarchies of deservedness and temporariness. They also lead to discrimination that is incompatible with state commitments under international and regional human rights and rule of law standards. The Policy Brief provides a set of lessons learned in the implementation of the EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum and the EU’s cooperation with third countries on migration and asylum management in light of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees.