The Future of Europe as a Place of Refuge

Prague, 5 – 6 December 2019, Faculty of Law, Charles University

Several years ago, scholars gave Europe the title “Fortress Europe”, drawing attention to the continuing “securitization” of migration and refugee issues. This is even more true today. Non-entry strategies apply extensively across Europe and were even strengthened after the 2015 refugee/migration inflow by the EU - Turkey agreement of 2016. Public discourse in certain European countries becomes increasingly hostile with respect to offering international protection. Countries of the global North in general focus on the protection of their borders, and often use a securitized language when they discuss legal norms that apply to refugees. These measures mark a shift from the human rights concept of refugee protection to an emphasis on security which means, among other things, that a conflict between state sovereignty and human rights becomes more visible.

The main issue to be addressed at this conference is therefore the future of Europe as a place of refuge. If only a small number of refugees may enter it, how will Europe participate in solving the large and still growing refugee situations around the globe? Some of those fleeing their countries of origin may try to apply for a visa as in the X and X v État belge ECJ case or in the M.N. and others v. Belgium case before the ECtHR. Others could hope for resettlement. Yet, can any of these options be a real and viable solution? Certain Western states will not even consider single men for resettlement, only families. Visas for applying for protection are not granted. How will refugees reach Europe in future and how will the societies accept them? And, most importantly, how will they accept them if they come in large numbers? Could resettlement be the answer? And if so, under what circumstances?