The EU Policy of Containment of Asylum Seekers at the Borders of Europe: (1) The Hotspot Approach


This series of articles aims to look at the EU policy to deter and limit the number of asylum seekers near the border of Europe. The first article focuses on the hotspot method, which is the foundation of the policy introduced by the EU Commission in 2015 to control the high numbers of migrants across border crossings at the Greek and Italian border. This post examines how hotspots, also called reception and identification centers, quickly transformed from areas used for transit into places for containment geared towards the returning, not protecting asylum seekers who arrive at Greek shores. It is crucial and timely to study the current policy as it has been a source of inspiration for different approaches to the EU in its reception of immigrants like the ‘closed and controlled centers’ restricted and closed centers that were recently established in a variety of Aegean islands, as discussed in the following article. Furthermore, some of the problematic features of the hotspot method have been included in the draft proposal for the creation of a Regulation on an asylum process released in September by the EU Commission in September 2020 and is currently undergoing the legislative procedure.

A Response from the EU response to 2015’s migration crisis

The”so-called European “migration crisis” refers to the vast number of people seeking refuge within Europe in the middle of 2010 following long and dangerous journeys to Europe. The peak was born in 2015 when more than 1 million people were arriving, and in 2016, approximately 1.2 million asylum claims were submitted within the EU. Although these figures are impressive, they’re only 0.25 percent of the overall EU total population at publication.

In the Mai 2015 Agenda on Migration, The EU Commission put forward a list of measures to address the migration issue. The hotspot approach, one of the central elements of this plan, mandates EU agencies like Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office and Frontex to coordinate operational assistance for member states facing the influx of a significant number of refugees. 

The hotspot model began to be implemented at the Moria Reception and identification center (RIC) in Lesbos in October 2015. The hotspot was operational by RICs across four more Aegean islands (Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kos) and in the southern region of Italy at the beginning of the face. In practice, it means that all people who disembark following an emergency at sea or landing irregularly in the areas most affected must undergo identification and registration and are then directed to designated points.

The hotspot strategy was designed as a temporary solution to address an emergency. But, it is still in use today even though there is no law to regulate how hotspots operate and the obligation of EU agencies involved in their work. 

The advancement of the hotspot method.

Hotspots were designed as infrastructures for the registration and identification (including the requirement for fingerprinting) of people at a mass number of people efficiently and efficiently. [3] The registered persons would then be directed to the proper return or asylum procedure and transferred to appropriate facilities on the mainland. Hotspots were initially intended to be landing and transit places, but not as accommodations services. 

Italian hotspots have typically served as registration centers in which migrants are allowed to stay for no more than a few weeks. [5] The five hotspots of the Greek islands also served as transit points. After being subjected to preliminary checks and verification processes, most individuals were issued an entry permit one a month to travel across mainland Greece and over. According to data, asylum seekers entering Europe through Greece in 2015 did not intend to seek asylum there. 

The workings of Greek hotspots have been profoundly changed due to an agreement signed by Turkey and the EU and Turkey on March 18, 2016, referred to as the EU-Turkey Declaration. [99 The deal that, to date, the EU has not accepted responsibility for states that the EU organization has assumed responsibility says that “all new irregular immigrants who are crossing through Turkey to Greek islands … are returned to Turkey and targeted at those who have not applied for asylum on arrival, and those whose asylum application is rejected as being unfounded or inadmissible. 

The primary goal of the agreement between the EU and Turkey was to significantly cut down on the number of crossings between Turkey towards Greece. It claimed to achieve this by implementing a systematic and consistent deportation strategy to prevent refugees from using this route. In exchange, the EU committed 6 billion euros to improve the conditions of refugees living in Turkey, one of the world’s most populous refugee groups, ranging from 3.7 million to 3.7 million people. 

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