The EU needs a plan sooner than later.
Since the European migration crisis captured the world’s attention in 2015, headlines on the subject have significantly decreased. Many assume Europe is receiving far fewer refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and that the continent has found a way to settle and integrate those who arrived during the height of the wave. The reality is far more complex.
The EU’s future refugee policy now dominates political agendas. Although overall numbers are down, refugee flows to Europe have not stopped. The continent saw around 171,000 sea arrivals in 2017, compared to over one million in 2015. About 1.2 million refugees that made it to Europe applied for asylum in 2016. This exposed deep fissures in the EU’s current system. It divided the continent on how to handle the refugees who have already arrived, and what to do with the many thousands that will inevitably land on Europe’s shores in the coming years. Europe now needs a strategy that can simultaneously address the legitimate concerns of some EU members but also place refugee well-being at the forefront of decision making.
This is no easy task. In recent months, the EU has been working to reform of Dublin regulation, which stipulates that the country in which the asylum seeker arrives is the country responsible for them. That rule has proven to be difficult for frontline states like Italy and Greece.