The protection elsewhere approach 

20 March 2024
Danish Refugee Council’s office, Copenhagen

How does Denmark’s and EU’s cooperation with third countries impact global responsibility-sharing and access to protection for refugees?

Since the high number of asylum seekers came to Europe in 2015, the EU co-legislators have been working on a reform of the Common European Asylum System. 

The reform proposals of the Pact on Migration and Asylum are being finalized this year, but instead of continuing the good response the EU showed towards people displaced from Ukraine, the legal changes focus on increased use of border and admissibility procedures to keep asylum seekers from entering the EU.

The Pact on Migration and Asylum agreed between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU in December 2023 includes a weakening of the safe third country concept – lowering the threshold for considering a country safe for refugees. 

The Pact also consolidates an approach of reliance on third countries to stem irregular departures and reduce arrivals to European shores. Cooperation arrangements with countries along the migratory routes are manifestations of these efforts, such as the controversial EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) launched in July 2023 and EU-Türkiye deal.

Denmark has an opt-out on European asylum law, but due to the Schengen cooperation selected files of the asylum reform will still apply in Denmark. At the same time, the Danish government has tried to promote the so-called “Rwanda scheme” that aims to reduce arrivals by limiting the possibility to spontaneously apply for asylum through transfer arrangements with countries outside EU. 

While efforts towards a “Rwanda scheme” have been less visible in the past year, the Danish Government is clear in its ambition to find ways to stem arrivals to Europe and to externalise asylum processing – and is proactively pursuing cooperation with other EU countries.  

The European Commission has rejected the idea of externalising asylum processing as foreseen in the Danish “Rwanda scheme”, but at the same time used the Pact to increase collaboration and reliance on third countries.

The event will take point of departure in recent ASILE research findings on the fundamental challenges of the EU’s extraterritorial asylum and migration policy and principles of responsibility attribution in complex multi-actor migration management contexts. 

The event will explore and seek to answer the following questions:

  • What are the legal and political perspectives on the increased reliance on third countries, including the safe third country concept’s potential and limitations? 
  • And what dilemmas does it pose to the principle of global responsibility sharing and the perception of fairness?
  • What are the protection implications for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and human rights concerns of extraterritorial migration cooperation including in the case of the EU-Tunisia and EU-Türkiye arrangements? 
  • How do we ensure scrutiny and oversight of third country arrangements and its human rights impact and increase accountability?


The event will take place on Wednesday 20 March 2024, 15:00-16:30, at Danish Refugee Council’s office, Borgergade 10, 1300 Copenhagen K. 

Please register by writing to Lina Herrmann,, by 19 March 2024 COB.


Speakers will include researchers from the ASILE research project, civil society, as well as international organisations, and will engage Danish politicians.


Event details

Date: 20.03.2024, Wednesday

Time: 15:00 – 16:30 (CET)