Impact Assessment of Asylum Procedures across the European Union

Daniela Ghio, European Commission JRC
Ciro Gioia, European Commission JRC
Dario Tarchi, European Commission JRC
Francesco Sermi, European Commission JRC

In 2011, the Arabic Spring and the civil war in Libya caused unexpected movements of populations on a large scale, and the European Union (EU) received around 300.000 asylum applications. In 2016, this number was quadrupled: European Member States (EU-MS) recorded more than 1.204.000 asylum seekers: 722.000 applicants were lodged in Germany (60%), 121.000 were registered in Italy (10%) and 76.000 in France (6%) [Data source: EUROSTAT].

As a result, the vast majority of EU-MS claims to be dealing with an unprecedented refugee crisis causing a disproportionate pressure of their migration systems. In response to the increase of asylum applications, significant changes have been introduced through new European legislation, but no criteria have been agreed to define migration pressure at national level.

For this reason, our analysis defines a composite indicator, called Asylometer, examining the effects recorded by the national migration systems to ensure comparability among EU-MS. Using Eurostat data collection for four quarters (2011 Q1, 2013 Q1, 2015 Q1 and 2016 Q4), Asylometer combines the country of origin of asylum seekers with the European member state perspectives.

Asylometer focuses on the first instance of asylum procedure merging the three key asylum indicators: 1. Applications: unexpected massive inflows of migrants claiming for international protection in the EU-MS; 2. Pending asylum applicants waiting for a decision: the backlog generates by the processing of asylum applications; 3. Rejected decisions: refused asylum seekers, who are unable or refuse to leave EU, remain in EU-MS living in a limbo status.

Results achieved for Syria and Nigeria, as two of the main Countries of Origin of asylum seekers in European Union, are presented. To assess the impacts of asylum policies by Country of Origin at national level, we propose Germany and Italy as two case studies to capture similarities and differences across the European Union.

Our tool, Asylumeter,has been conceived as a contribution to address the two following policypriorities: A. Identify a common approach towards each specific country oforigin (CoO), to avoid inequalities in the treatmentof asylum seekers; B. Measure the level of migration pressure dealt by eachEuropean Member States (EU-MS), aiming at the assessment of the Common EuropeanAsylum System.

Two levels of analysis aredeveloped:

1. Level-1 adopts a CoO perspective tomeasure the asylum pressure from specific countries towards the EU. Accordingto the recasting of the Asylum Procedure Directive, the safe CoO concept can be used by EU-MS as a ground foraccelerating the examination of asylum applications when ostensibly unfounded.Proving how existing data can be reliably used, ourapproach provides evidence on the application of asylum policies by CoO and an insight into the procedural consequences of thesafe CoO designations.

 2. Level-2captures the similarities and differences at national level, using indicatorsto compare policies in the EU. The functioning of Dublin system might de factoresult in additional burdens on MSs that have limited absorption capacities orthat are finding themselves under particular migration pressures due to theirgeographical position. Our approach brings together the relevant indicators ofthe managing capacities of EU-MS on a comparable basis.

The following key policy findingscan be drawn:

1. Level-1: covering the three main asylum-related policy dimensions,the lack of targeted actions by Country of origin can be identified, having thepriority given so far to horizontal and measures adopted for all countries oforigin. The following critical elements emerge from the application of Asylometer, which may guide feature policy developments fortargeted groups of asylum seekers:

            Syria: captures the impact of the Syriancrisis on the European asylum system. In fact, European Member States havereduced the number of rejected decisions for Syrian applicants. On the otherhand, the failure to fully implement the relocation program and difficulties inthe application of the family reunification procedure under the provision ofthe Dublin Regulation, may explain the relatively high incidence of Syrianapplicants on the European backlog and the stalled situation since 2015 (Figure1).

            Nigeria: The application of the ReturnDirective needs additional efforts to progress efficiently. Even in the casewhere return measures have been formulated, the amount of rejected asylumapplicants has achieved a critical level. It may generate massive influx ofirregular migrants remaining in Europe illegally and having seriousimplications on the security and legal management of migration. This alsorequires, as a matter of principle, a collaboration of all actors concerned inreturn and readmission procedures.

2. Level-2: Asylometer makes possible to quantify and comparethe national functioning of asylum systems dealing with targeted asylumseekers. Asylometercontributes to the assessment of the asylum policy effectiveness, comparing theperiods before and after the adoption of related measures.

Germany: Asylometer showsthe increase of the relative proportion of Syrian applicants on the amount ofpersons waiting for a first instance decisions. Syrian applicants are notrepresenting a factor of pressure; policy-makers should have used theseindicators to better reflect on their long-term goals for asylum seekerintegration perspectives. Notwithstanding this added value, Asylometer can also play anindirect role for policy planning to redefine asylum policies in terms ofexpected integration outcomes.

Italy Asylometer shows the key improvement of the national asylum system capacity in thedecrease of the backlog, which may be the result of the speed up of the asylumdecision process. However, additional efforts can be needed to enforce returnprocedures; a sustainable and effective enforced return policy should bedeveloped in collaboration with the consular authorities of the returnees'' CoO.

The coloured areas represent the Asylometer calculated on the basis of three indicators, specifically: 1. Applications by Syrian asylum seekers/total of applications (Appc/Appt); 2. Stock of asylum seekers waiting for a decision (Syrian asylum seekers waiting for a decisions/total of pending cases (Penc/Pent); 3. Syrian rejection rate calculated as Syrian rejected Decisions/total of decisions (Rej/Dec). The red area is related to the period: 2011-First-Quarter (2011Q1); the yellow area is related to the period: 2013-First-Quarter (2013Q1); the green area is related to the period: 2015-First-Quarter (2015Q1); the blue area is related to the period: 2016-Fourth-Quarter (2016Q4). Comparing the red area (Ayslumoter-2011Q1) with the blue one (Ayslumoter-2016Q4), it is evident how the European Member States have reduced the number of rejected decisions concerning Syrian applicants from 2011Q1 to 2016Q4. The yellow area (Ayslumoter-2015Q1) and the blue area (Asylometer-2016Q4) display the increase of pending applications that can be explained by the difficulties in the family reunification procedure under the provision of the Dublin Regulation and the partial implementation of the relocation program among the European Member States.

Presented in Session 1233: Policy Issues