Search for safe(r) countries

This study was requested by the Minister for Migration and comprises three case studies into motives of asylum seekers from Albania, Georgia and Morocco that applied for asylum in the Netherlands.

Summary, conclusions and recommendations

Based on this study, the Advisory Committee on Migration Affairs makes the following recommendations to the Dutch Minister for Migration.

1. The primary focus should be on removing the push factors: these are, after all, powerful factors in themselves and, moreover, they are stronger than the pull factors that make asylum seekers choose the Netherlands as a destination country. Where possible, the root causes of migration should be tackled – preferably by way of international partnerships, such as the EU in particular – and a tailored approach should be provided for each country. The Netherlands and the EU should consider legal migration pathways (employment and vocational training) for countries that cooperate on return policy, such as Albania and Georgia. Countries that do not cooperate on return policy, such as Morocco and Algeria, should, in principle, be excluded until they make and implement agreements with regard to return policy.

2. Both for reasons of principle (equality and credibility) and practicality (preventing asylum shopping), the Netherlands should make a strong commitment to achieving a harmonised EU definition of a ‘safe country’ and an uniform application thereof. The Netherlands should be committed to creating a more level playing field in the EU, both with regard to the processing times of asylum applications from safe countries, the outcomes of the applications, and the reception and return facilities.

3. The lengthy processing times of Dublin applications of asylum seekers from safe countries should be shortened or those asylum applications should be handled by the Netherlands in the safe countries track to prevent asylum seekers from remaining in facilities longer than necessary.

4.a) Commitment within the EU should be strengthened regarding return policy agreements with safe countries, particularly regarding difficult return countries.
b) A tailored approach should be used when imposing entry bans. An analysis should be conducted for each safe country to ascertain whether restricting/scrapping return support would be effective or counterproductive, partly in order to achieve more voluntary returns to difficult return countries.

5. (Joint) information campaigns should be targeted not only at residents still in the country of origin, but also at migrants already on their way and located elsewhere in Europe.

More information on this report can be obtained from Huub Verbaten (06-46999891) h.verbaten@acvz.minvenj.nl