Topic: ‘Human Rights and the Migrant and Refugee Crisis: Treatment of asylum-seekers in Europe’
The keynote speech focused on exploring how the EU has dealt with the large numbers of asylum seekers entering or attempting to enter its space from 2015 until today. The general framework to which it was connected was the dilemma between EU member-state sovereignty and upholding commitments to the protection of human rights. The EU-Turkey deal was discussed as a response to lack of cooperation and hardline anti-immigration policies for the fair redistribution and resettlement of asylum seekers within the EU. We explored the what Turkey got out of the deal and how the EU used it to externalized its borders and keep asylum seekers off its territory. We looked at the human rights violations that this deal facilitated and discussed the responsibility of the EU to uphold its commitment to its values and the protection of human rights. We also discussed how using the promise of re-energizing talks on the accession of Turkey into the EU was a mistake and endangered the instrumentalization of EU membership for political and economic gains. The three questions posed during the presentation were:
- What would you say is the predominant attitude in the country/countries you come from when it comes to supporting asylum-seekers’ resettlement to their territory? Any shifts between 2015 and 2020?
- To what extend do you find the EU-Turkey deal ‘fair-play’? What do you see as advantages and what do you see as problematic aspects?
- Where do we go from here?
- Sovereignty over Human Rights?
- Leadership and governance structures?
- Implications for EU enlargement?
Finally, we connected the conversation to Michael’s keynote speech, noting the need to further explore what it means to pursue EU enlargement but also tackle internal divisions that undermine the commitment of the EU to upholding its values and human rights, as well as what a system of governance that would hold members accountable for the protection of human rights and would cultivate solidarity among old and new members could be like.