Elements for a More Effectiven European Union Response to Situations of Mass Influx

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This thesis focuses on the gradual development of EU asylum co-operation over the last fifteen years, following a historical/evolutionary approach that concentrates on two main aspects. On the one hand, this work attempts to explain the reasons for the rise since 1985 of a common interest among EU Member States in co-ordinating their national asylum policies. It also attempts to assess whether such asylum coordination has been characterised by an identifiable pattern of evolution, for instance in the choice of priorities or of an overall strategy, and to ascertain whether these initial efforts have finally developed into a fully fledged EU asylum policy. On the other hand, this research has concentrated on the impact of these initiatives on the levels of refugee protection in the EU and in particular on whether they have been compatible with previous international refugee and Human Rights obligations. This work also suggests ways in which enhanced levels of refugee protection could be integrated into the development of an efficient EU asylum policy This research begins by outlining the international foundations of refugee protection, such as the 1951 Geneva Convention and the UNHCR and the way they have evolved in the last four decades. It then analyses the initial attempts of EC countries to co-ordinate their asylum measures through the burgeoning European Political Co-operation. The role played by parallel asylum initiatives taken by a smaller number of EC Members within the Schengen framework is also highlighted. This thesis then focuses on the subsequent Maastricht Treaty and the nature of the Third Pillar provisions on asylum, the operating structures set up for asylum coordination and the resulting interaction patterns between Member States and the Union's Institutions. It also assesses the EU initiatives that were undertaken within the Third Pillar framework and the particular problems that they presented. This research then continues by analysing in detail the new complex asylum framework that emerged in 1997 with the Amsterdam Treaty. The roles played by the subsequent Tampere European Council and the recent Nice Treaty are also explored as they have provided both a development path and a fine- tuning of decision-making processes of the new EU asylum co-operation. Finally, attention is given to the possible impact that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, approved at Nice, might have on strengthening the Human Rights dimension of asylum in future EU action.
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