The EU asylum system is in a slight disarray because the southern and south-eastern member states could not cope with the numbers. The Dublin regulations are unfair to the EU member states on the south-eastern borders and the shores of the Mediterranean, who are supposed to handle all refugee matters. Some of them reacted by ceasing to even try, which is no solution, either. Meanwhile, eastern member states demand structural cohesion funds and protection from Russia, yet they wash their hands of the refugee problem.
How it is supposed to work:
A refugee arrives in one EU state. There he makes an application for political asylum. If the application is granted, he can stay. If it is declined, he gets deported to his homeland.
- The application must be made as soon as the refugee reaches the EU.
- The refugee has no right to travel within the EU to select where the application is handled. If he tries that, he is sent back.
- The refugee has no right to make two applications in the EU. The decision of the first application is accepted by all EU members.
How it actually works:
- Countries like Greece, the Balkans, and Hungary got overwhelmed by the numbers. Germany, Sweden, and others processed the applications by refugees who walked north instead of applying in their country of first arrival.
- There is a time limit on sending people back to other EU states under Dublin. In some cases the northern countries were unable to complete the paperwork in time.
- In a few cases, courts in northern Europe decided that sending refugees back to camps in southern EU countries was impossible because they were so overcrowded.
Still, they are trying to get back to an orderly Dublin process, and numbers are much lower now than they were in 2015.
To the specific questions:
- If refugees are sent back to their first country of arrival, their asylum claim gets processed there.
- There are a few exceptions to refugees being sent back. Close family already in the asylum process in the second country, medical inability to travel, the second country voluntarily deciding to hear the case.
- If one EU country declined the asylum application, then the EU does not believe there is a threat, and it will send the applicant back to his home country or any country that will take him.