More asylum seekers to be returned to first country of application

The Belgian asylum minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) has decided that more asylum seekers who already registered in another European country before arriving in Belgium will be returned to that country.  Asylum seekers who refuse to go back may be incarcerated.

Asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach and under the Dublin Regulation can be sent back to this country if they try to apply elsewhere.  The procedure was introduced to stop asylum seekers trying their luck in several EU countries in a bid to enhance their chances.

In 2019 Belgium asked other EU countries to take care of 11,882 asylum applications, because asylum had already been requested in these countries.  At the end of the day only 852 ‘Dubliners’ were handed over to other countries for process of their application. Minister De Block now wants to make sure more are returned to their first port of call:

“In future asylum seekers, who have already applied in another EU country, will be put on a return route from the minute they apply.  It will be a voluntary procedure if possible, but enforced if need be.  A number of closed places for people who don’t wish to go along with the procedure have already been reserved by the immigration department.   It’s not acceptable that the number of Dublin cases continues to rise because people think social welfare is better in Belgium.”

The minister is determined to make headway:

“People are very inventive and are often aided.  Sometimes the immigration department has a hard time getting hold of them because they change their domicile every two days.  This is an organised system that we wish to counter.”

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