The Concept of Safe Third Countries – Legislation and National Practices (2017)


The report is about the concept of safe third countries as part of the right to asylum.

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The concept of safe third countries – Legislation and national practices (pdf, 1,9 MB)

Summary

The concept of safe third countries has been part of the international asylum discourse for many years. However, information from the IGC MS and from the EU MS show that few countries use the concept extensively. One could therefore be inclined to conclude that the concept is of little practical use.

The sum of political, legal and practical developments during the last two years leads to another conclusion, namely that the concept has had a political revival and is more relevant than ever in 2017. The concept of safe third countries is institutionalised in EU community law, and was recently applied to large asylum caseloads by Greece and Norway. It is established practice in Australia and a relevant concept in Canada.

One conclusion that can be drawn from the past two years and the experience from Norway and Greece, is that, if there is a strong political will, either nationally or at the EU level, the concept of safe third country can be applied to specific situations.

The concept is subject to legal developments, both through the revision of the Asylum Procedures Directive and cases brought before national courts, the CJEU and ECtHR. Legal development also take place at the national level, by case handlers that start to apply the provision, like seems to be the case in the Netherlands. 

The implementation of a border procedure at the Greek islands was unique regarding practical cooperating. This was the first time a hotspot approach and joint processing of asylum cases (joint between EASO, Greek authorities and experts from EASO MS) was used in migration management.

The concept of safe third countries has been part of the international asylum discourse for many years. However, information from the IGC MS and from the EU MS show that few countries use the concept extensively. One could therefore be inclined to conclude that the concept is of little practical use.

The sum of political, legal and practical developments during the last two years leads to another conclusion, namely that the concept has had a political revival and is more relevant than ever in 2017. The concept of safe third countries is institutionalised in EU community law, and was recently applied to large asylum caseloads by Greece and Norway. It is established practice in Australia and a relevant concept in Canada.

One conclusion that can be drawn from the past two years and the experience from Norway and Greece, is that, if there is a strong political will, either nationally or at the EU level, the concept of safe third country can be applied to specific situations.

The concept is subject to legal developments, both through the revision of the Asylum Procedures Directive and cases brought before national courts, the CJEU and ECtHR. Legal development also take place at the national level, by case handlers that start to apply the provision, like seems to be the case in the Netherlands.

The implementation of a border procedure at the Greek islands was unique regarding practical cooperating. This was the first time a hotspot approach and joint processing of asylum cases (joint between EASO, Greek authorities and experts from EASO MS) was used in migration management.

Carried out by: Charlotte Mysen

Comissioned by: The Ministry of Justice and Public Security

 

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