Asylum seekers struggle to access Common European Asylum System, says new book by Professor Christian Kaunert

Professor Christian Kaunert

Professor Christian Kaunert’s new book Refugees, Security and the European Union analyses the securitisation of asylum-seekers and refugees in the EU.

In it, he and co-author Sarah Léonard, argue that the development of the EU asylum policy, far from 'securitizing' asylum-seekers and refugees, has led to the strengthening and codification of several rights for these two categories of persons.

However, the securitization of terrorism and the links that have been constructed between asylum, irregular migration and terrorism in the wake of the various terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe in the last few years have had a significant impact on the ability of asylum-seekers to gain access to asylum systems in the EU.

Q&A with Professor Kaunert

If we look at the EU’s policy towards asylum seekers and refugees since its origins in 1993, what can we see and what are the biggest changes?
The biggest changes are related to the communitarisation of asylum policy in the EU. Nowadays, asylum legislation is increasingly harmonised across the EU member states. Also, the role of EU institutions, notably the European Court of Justice has been significantly increased. Finally, the substantive rights of asylum seekers and refugees have been substantially increased, including for persons in need of temporary protection."


What have been the impacts on refugees and asylum seekers of the securitisation of terrorism?
The impact has been considerable. The access to asylum has been severely restricted, notably because the travel routes via Greece, the Balkans and central Europe have been closed. This means that, even though asylum seekers have more rights after accessing asylum channels in the EU, it has become more difficult to access it.


The development of the EU asylum policy, far from 'securitising' asylum-seekers and refugees, has led to the strengthening and codification of their rights. Can you elaborate?
The strengthening means notably that more categories of people are included in the asylum procedures, the administrative procedures have significantly improved, and the receptions conditions have been signficantly improved across Europe. Codification means that all these rights have been enshrined in law and are not up to member state practice any more to a large extent. Variations across different EU member states have been significantly decreased.

About Professor Kaunert

Christian Kaunert is Professor and Chair of Policing and Security as well as Director of the International Centre for Policing and Security at the University of South Wales, UK.

He previously served as Academic Director and Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Professor of International Politics at the University of Dundee, Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford, Marie Curie Senior Research Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, and Lecturer at Aberystwyth University.

See Professor Kaunert's research outputs here

Christian Kaunert book