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The Uncertain Role of the EU Countries in the Syrian Refugee Crisis

This article analyses the EU’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, both inside the EU and in the Syria’s neighboring countries. It first focuses on the background of the common asylum policy of the EU and major challenges posed by the refugee crisis to the common EU refugee policy. The article then focuses on an analysis of the impact of the refugee crisis on the EU, the failures of the EU to adopt a common approach towards the refugees from Syria, and the EU initiatives. As the Syrian refugees/asylum applicants constitute a large part of the asylum applicants/refugees in the EU and because the core documents do not differentiate among the refugees based on their nationality, we will simplify the EU position towards the refugees by assuming that it holds true for the Syrian refugees specifically. Should there be a special condition applied to Syrian refugees only, this will be explicitly mentioned.

The Uncertain Role of the EU Countries in the Syrian
A man and children walk in the so-called “Jungle” migrant camp in Gande-Synthe where 2,500 refugees from Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria live on February 11, 2016 in Grande-Synthe near the city of Dunkirk, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN
 

Common Asylum and Migration Policy of the EU 

The common asylum and migration policy of the EU can be in general traced back to the 1950s when the EC (European Community) member states adopted the Geneva Convention of 1951 on the Status of Refugees, which defined the basic rules and principles of refugee protection. The efforts to embrace a common approach to asylum and migration policy were first reflected in the Schengen agreement signed by five of the ten member states of the EC in 1985, which provided for the removal of internal borders among Schengen member states. Creation of the borderless Schengen area was facilitated by the fact that the EC as such was at the time, when the agreement was adopted, much smaller and therefore much more flexible and easier to manage than the current EU-28. The EU accepted the Dublin convention of 1990 as a part of the Schengen system which provided for the basis of the common asylum policy. The EU common asylum policy was further modified in the Dublin II Regulation of 2003 and the EURODAC Regulation, which established an all-EU database of fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees entering the EU.2

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