Australian authorities have managed to resolve their refugee crisis by requiring that all people entering their territorial waters without a visa are detained on a remote island until they are granted refugee status or sent back home. This seems to be extremely effective as there are very few people attempting the trip.

Are there any serious proposals for using the same approach within the EU?

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    It seems to be effective but it has long, dark stories behind (examples). Note Australia is completely isolated, so it is nearly impossible to reach it by your own means. However, EU has many, many non-EU terrestrial neighbours through which access is possible.
    – fedorqui
    Apr 14, 2017 at 19:54
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    European mass detention camps didn't go very well last time.
    – user9389
    Apr 14, 2017 at 20:09
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    Step 1. Dig an ocean-sized ditch around Europe. Step 2. ??? Step 3: Profit?
    – user4012
    Apr 14, 2017 at 20:43
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    This seems to be extremely effective as there are very few people attempting the trip. Can you even show correlation there? Australia has a ton of water between it and other places. It is a logistically challenging place to get to. Can you show that before they did this remote island thing they were getting swamped with refugees and now they aren't? Apr 14, 2017 at 21:08
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    @DavidGrinberg absolutely: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Solution#/media/…. Take out the incentive for coming and people will stop trying. I'm wondering if anyone has attempted to bring the plan forward within the European Parliament/Council. Apr 14, 2017 at 21:22

1 Answer 1


For a detailed discussion of the political dimensions, here is a good article to start with. For now I'm just going to point out the most basic practical problems with the proposal.

In a recent interview for Australian television, Europol director and former British intelligence analyst Rob Wainright responded to this exact question as follows:

Well, it's different to compare both. I mean, I think the two situations are uniquely different.

First of all, think of the scale. Approximately 1.2 million people sought asylum in Europe last year and just under 300,000 of them were granted that. That's a figure something like 10 times what it is for Australia in the last couple of years. So I think the scale is different.

According to the BBC, Australia's illegal maritime arrivals peaked at 18,000 per year. So indeed, the scale of the problem in Europe (however you may frame it) is vastly different.

Wainright goes on to raise a related point.

But you know, where in Europe are we going to sort of tow our boats back to a safe port in Indonesia? Where is the offshore detention centres in Europe we can take our refugees to?

The infamous detention center at Lampedusa is frequently filled beyond capacity. Many more such centers would have to be built if asylum seekers are to be kept there even longer then they are now.

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