Any countries in the European Union receiving asylum requests from refugees have an obligation to process them irrespective of where the applicants first entered into the bloc, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice said on Thursday.
Eleanor Sharpston said in a non-binding opinion that under the “exceptional circumstances” of the refugee crisis, member states should not be bound by the Dublin Regulation’s requirement that first-entry states handle all asylum applications, even after a refugee or migrant has moved on to a different country.
“The words ‘irregular crossing’ in the Dublin III Regulation do not cover a situation where, as a result of the mass inflow of people into border member states, those countries allowed third-country nationals to enter and transit through their territory in order to reach other member states,” she wrote.
Sharpston referred to the case of a Syrian national who traveled to Slovenia via Croatia and that of an Afghan family that entered Europe in Greece and then made its way to Austria. Slovenia and Austria should be responsible for examining their asylum applications, she said.
“If border member states… are deemed to be responsible for accepting and processing exceptionally high numbers of asylum seekers, there is a real risk that they will simply be unable to cope with the situation,” Sharpston wrote.
“This in turn could place member states in a position where they are unable to comply with their obligations under EU and international law,” she added.