Asylum seekers should not be able to choose the EU nation they apply in: Swedish MEP

Asylum seekers should not be able to choose the EU nation they apply in: Swedish MEP
Swedish Liberal MEP Cecilia Wikström. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
Asylum seekers should not have the right to choose the EU nation in which they make their application, a Swedish MEP in charge of reforming the European Union's asylum policy has proposed.

MEP Cecilia Wikström from Sweden's Liberals has been tasked with steering reforms of the Dublin Regulation through the European Parliament by finding proposals which will be backed by a majority. The regulation covers which EU country is responsible for processing an asylum seeker.

In a new article in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Wikström writes that attempts to redeploy around 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece between EU nations has been a complete fiasco, and that in order for member countries to equally share the responsibility, an automatic distribution mechanism should be created.

“A distribution scale is being drawn up based on GDP and population, in which every country's share of the responsibility is clear. When a member state fulfils its part of the joint responsibility, asylum seekers that arrive there would be distributed to other countries,” Wikström notes.

Border nations are well aware that many asylum seekers will travel onwards to countries like Sweden and Germany, Wikström argues, and that it is difficult to return an asylum seeker to the first EU nation they arrived in if they were not registered in the union's common database.

In other words, there is an incentive for both border nations and the countries asylum seekers then travel through not to register applicants in the database, which Wikström wants to change.

Sweden received a record 163,000 asylum applications during the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015. The number dropped sharply to 29,000 in 2016.

The Dublin Regulation was signed in 1990 in order to set the criteria for EU nations regarding the responsibility of processing asylum applications. It was reformed in 2003, then again in 2013. It applies to all 28 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.