Refugee crisis means Dublin Treaty rules can’t be strictly enforced, ECJ Advocate General advises

Strict adherence to the Dublin Treaty is not possible in the emergency conditions created by the refugee crisis, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate General said on Thursday, in a non-binding opinion concerning two cases brought before the court.

In such conditions said Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston, the processing of asylum requests may have to be undertaken by the countries where the applications are first filed, not the countries by which the applicants first entered the EU as stipulated in the Dublin Treaty.

Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston said that the unprecedented flow of migrants using the Western Balkans route could result in certain states being unable to cope with the high number of asylum claims, and in that case responsibility should fall to others.

In her opinion, she considered two separate cases: one of a Syrian national who traveled from Syria to Slovenia via Croatia, and another of an Afghan family that fled to Austria but initially entered Europe via Greece. In these cases, Sharpston said, Slovenia and Austria should process their asylum applications.

“If border member-states are considered responsible for accepting and processing of an exceptionally high numbers of asylum seekers, there is a real risk that they will simply be unable to cope with the situation. This in turn could place member states in a position where they are unable to comply with their obligations under EU and international law,” she said.