Safe country of origin (sco) policies have become very popular in many of the European countries. Scholars however disagree whether this leads to policy convergence or divergence. Based on the absence of a comprehensive dataset from which to make such a convergence/divergence observation, this paper consequently describes the development of sco policies in depth, and their variation over time and across Member States. It is observed that sco policies adopted at the domestic level are becoming increasingly similar across eu Member States, especially with regard to certain regions (the Western Balkans and West Africa). Following from these observations, several mechanisms behind the established trends are discussed. The paper is based on an original dataset of the sco designations for all eu Member States over the time period 1990–2013, as well as on interviews with ministry officials in several eu Member States.
S. Lavenex (2010) ‘Justice and Home Affairs: Communitarization With Hesitation’ in: H. Wallace M.A. Pollack and A.R. Young (eds) Policy-Making in the European Union. 6 ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press pp. 457–480; J. Monar ‘The dynamics of Justice and Home Affairs: laboratories driving factors and costs 39 Journal of Common Market Studies (2001) 747–764.
M. Vink and C. Engelmann (2012) ‘Informal European Asylum Governance in an International Context’ in: T. Christiansen and C. Neuhold (eds) International Handbook on Informal Governance Cheltenham: Edward Elgar pp. 690–718.
Council (2005) Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status (Asylum Procedures Directive) Brussels: Council of the European Union.
European Union (2013) Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (recast) Official Journal of the European Union Brussels.
European Parliament (1996) Asylum in the European Union: The ‘Safe Country of Origin Principle’ European Parliament Directorate General for Research; H. Mårtenson and J. McCarthy ‘“In General No Serious Risk of Persecution”: Safe Country of Origin Practices in Nine European States’ 11 Journal of Refugee Studies (1998) 304–325; Council of Europe (2005) Accelerated Asylum Procedures in the Council of Europe Member States Brussels: Committee on Migration Refugees and Population.
C. Costello (2006) The European Asylum Procedures Directive in Legal Contextunhcr – New Issues in Refugee Research Research Paper No. 134 p. 3; C. Costello (2005) ‘The Asylum Procedures Directive and the Proliferation of Safe Country Practices: Deterrence Deflection and the Dismantling of International Protection’ European Journal of Migration and Law 7 pp. 35–69.
J. Vedsted-Hansen (2012) ‘Common EU Standards on Asylum – Optional Harmonisation and Exclusive Procedures?’ in: E. Guild and P. Minderhoud (eds) The First Decade of EU Migration and Asylum Law Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff pp. 255–271.
For an opposing view see S. Oakley (2007) Accelerated Procedures for Asylum in the European Union. Fairness versus Efficiency Sussex Migration Working Paper No. 43 available online at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/migration/documents/mwp43.pdf (accessed 10 April 2012); Human Rights Watch (2003) Fleeting Refuge: The Triumph of Efficiency over Protection in Dutch Asylum Policy New York ny: Human Rights Watch.
European Parliament (1996); Mårtenson and McCarthy (1998); elena European Legal Network on Asylum (2005) The application of the safe country of origin concept in Europe. ecre European Council of Refugees and Exiles; K. Hailbronner (1993) ‘The Concept of “Safe Country” and Expeditious Asylum Procedures: A Western European Perspective’ 5 International Journal of Refugee Law (1993) 31–65.
Constitutional Court of Belgium 4 March1993no 20/93 available online at http://www.const-court.be/public/d/1993/1993-020d.pdf (accessed 7 February 2014).
Oakley (2007) p. 3.
Hailbronner (1993) p. 34.
Council (1992a) Council Resolution of 30 November 1992 on Manifestly Unfounded Applications for Asylum (London Resolution) Brussels: Council of the European Union; Council (1992b) Council Conclusion of 30 November 1992 on countries in which there is generally no serious risk of persecution (London Resolution) Brussels: Council of the European Union.
Council (2002) Declaration by the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the Member States of the EU on Asylum on 15 October 2002; for a critique see Statewatch (2002) EU Ministers declare applicant countries ‘safe’ to send back asylum-seekers available online at http://www.statewatch.org/news/2002/oct/05safe.htm accessed 4 June 2012.
Council (2004) Report from the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (Netherlands) to the Asylum Working Party on 17 September on Minimum Common List of Safe Countries of Origin 12118/1/04 REV 1. Brussels jha Council of the European Union p. 4.
European Union (2013).
European Commission (2009) p. 25.
European Commission (2011) Amended proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection status (recast)com (2011) 319 final.
Austria abolished the notion in1997only to re-introduce it in 2005. See H. Fassmann and U. Reeger (2008) From Guest Worker Migration to a Country of Immigrationidea Working Paper p. 24 available online at http://www.idea6fp.uw.edu.pl/pliki/WP1_Austria.pdf (accessed 10 April 2012).
Ibid. p. 361.
B. Nagy (2002) ‘Hungary’ in: R. Byrne G. Noll and J. Vedsted-Hansen (eds) New Asylum Countries? Migration Control and Refugee Protection in an Enlarged European Union The Hague: Kluwer Law International pp. 138–199 at p. 165.
Holzinger and Knill (2005).
For an overview see Holzinger and Knill (2005); D.P. Dolowitz and D. Marsh (2000) ‘Learning from Abroad: The Role of Policy Transer in Contemporary Policy-Making’ Governance 13(1) pp. 5–23.
Mårtenson and McCarthy (1998) at 309.
Constitutional Court of Belgium 4 March1993.
E. Thielemann (2006) ‘The Effectiveness of Governments’ Attempts to Control Unwanted Migration’ in: C.A. Parsons and T.M. Smeeding (eds) Immigration and the Transformation of Europe Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 442–472.