Why Europe should NOT serve as best practice: A critical view on how Europe tries to approach the continuous movement of refugees to Europe

As part of the Lunchtime Seminar Series, the African Centre for Migration & Society invites you to a seminar titled Why Europe should NOT serve as best practice: A critical view on how Europe tries to approach the continuous movement of refugees to Europe by Ulrich Stege (International University College of Turin).

As many other regions in the world, also Europe has faced a significant growth of asylum seekers and refugees in the recent years. Often this phenomenon is referred to as the “European Refugee Crisis”. Although the growth in numbers of asylum seekers and refugees is a fact, this situation should however be better named as the “Crisis of the European Asylum System”. We can indeed observe, that the current practice in relation to asylum is characterised by a large and growing gap between the humanitarian or human rights rhetoric of the European states and their actual behaviour.

While there are certainly a number of elements of the Common European Asylum System, which could be considered as best or at least interesting practices, this presentation however will focus on the demonstration of why the current asylum practice in Europe is failing to achieve its aims and therefore should not be considered a positive example for other regions of the world (including South Africa). In this regard, the following three major problems will be highlighted and possible alterative solution will be discussed:

  1. 20 years after its signature, the so-called Dublin system – that establishes a preliminary verification procedure related to the determination of the single country in Europe which is responsible to examine the asylum application on its merits – limit considerably the access to asylum and achieves very little at very high costs both for the protection of asylum seekers and for the functioning of the European Asylum System. In addition, the current approaches to externalise the asylum procedure outside Europe, raises a number of questions related to the effective access to asylum in Europe.
  2. Identification of asylum seekers: As a response to the migratory flows that Europe is witnessing, the European Agenda on Migration introduced the “hotspot approach” as the model of operational support to Member States faced with disproportionate migratory pressure. It has been implemented in Greece and Italy as a first level of “filtering” with the aims to channel the arrivals of mixed migration flows and to apply the pre-identification, registration, photo and fingerprinting operations. In both countries, the hotspot practice has been widely criticized by many NGOs and Civil Society organisations. Concerns have been expressed about the hotspot’s conditions, the factual use of detention, the use of coercive measures for the aim of identification etc.
  3. Return of irregular migrants: One of the political priorities for European Member States right now is to demonstrate of being capable to enforce negative asylum decisions and effectively return irregular migrants. But by doing this, the European Union and its Member States are signing bi-lateral readmission agreements with countries like Afghanistan, Turkey, Sudan, Libya etc., where a save return of the migrants is far from being ensured.


Ulrich Stege is an International University College of Turin (IUC) (www.iuctorino.it) Faculty Member, Member of the IUC Academic Coordination, Director of the IUC Clinic Legal Education Program and currently Extraordinary Lecturer at the Law Clinic of the University of Pretoria (South Africa). He studied law in Germany, France and Belgium. For several years, he has been practicing as a qualified lawyer in Italy and Germany (admitted to the Bar in Germany and Italy), and has acted as speaker, expert and trainer in numerous conferences, international expert groups and Training of Trainers (mainly related to European Law, Asylum and Immigration Law, Clinical Legal Education, etc.). In addition, he served as evaluator of different EU funding projects (for example related to Child Friendly Justice). He is founding member and Executive Secretary of the ENCLE (European Network for Clinical Legal Education), Steering Committee member of the GAJE (Global Alliance for Justice Education) and member of ASGI (Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione) and the Migration Law Network (Germany).

Date: Tuesday 17 April 2018

Time: 12.30 -13.30

Venue: ACMS Seminar Room 2163, South East Wing, Second Floor, Solomon Mahlangu House, University of the Witwatersrand East Campus