The conflict in Syria has brought a large number of asylum claimants across Europe into sharp relief. This is precisely the time when the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) should be closely monitored and scrutinized to ensure access to international protection for those deserving it.
The CEAS expresses political willingness by the European Union to establish a harmonised, fair, and effective asylum procedure to process asylum claims across EU Member States while complying with international law obligations to protect asylum claimants fleeing persecution. The three key instruments of the CEAS include: the Dublin Convention (1990), the Dublin II Regulation (2003), and the Dublin III Regulation (2013). The latter Regulation identifies the Member State responsible for examining the asylum application, which the aim to enhance efficiency, prevent forum-shopping, and promote harmonisation within the EU asylum system.
This blog post argues that the CEAS as a whole has partially failed its goals of achieving harmonisation and uniformity in the area of asylum law. The lack of uniformity and harmonisation among the practices of the Member States in such an area is due, in particular, to the fragmentation of international law. While some argue that EU law, as interpreted by the Court of Justice, is an autonomous legal order, this blog takes the internationalist view to suggest that the EU legal order should comply with relevant international law obligations in the area of asylum law, as requested in Article 78 TFEU.
Harmonisation and uniformity in the area of asylum protection may be achieved when Member States comply with the CEAS in a coherent and standard manner, while at the same time adhering to their international law obligations such as non-refoulement, protected under the ECHR. It is important for the CEAS to be aligned with international law and in particular, the principle of non-refoulement as protected under the ECHR, for two reasons: First, to effectively protect asylum claimants and refugees; second, to prevent erosion of the international refugee law regime by the variation of interpretation by EU Member States.