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Abstract

The refugee crisis is a highly contested and controversial issue. The world, and specifically Europe, has seen a rapid increase in the number of refugees applying for asylum. In fact, the European Union (“EU”) has received well over one million refugees: the highest number of refugees since the Second World War. The crisis is testing the EU’s main building blocks, including, most importantly, its Member States’ notion of an ever-closer union. Some Member States have been more responsive to the crisis than others. For example, Germany is the highest refugee hosting country in the EU. On the other hand, Hungary has rejected all of the asylum requests made in 2015. This paper explores the toll the crisis has taken, and is taking, on humanity as a whole, presenting a balanced view of the economic and social repercussions of the crisis on Member States. It does so by arguing for the case the refugee seeking asylum puts forward. It shows that international and European asylum laws place an unfair, inequitable burden on Member States. The paper argues that the EU has two alternatives to address the crisis. First, the EU could do nothing. This alternative would make the Member States more isolationist. It would encourage and grow anti-immigrant groups, and at some point in the future, the EU will cease to exist at all. This paper argues for the second alternative of repealing the Dublin Regulation. This Regulation unfairly burdens countries geographically closer to the war-torn countries even though they are some of the smaller and least resourceful countries. It suggests replacing the current system under the Dublin Regulation with a quota system by undergoing three steps. First, the EU must establish an emergency framework which would trigger the quota system. The second step is arguably the hardest to implement. The Union must work on broadening the definition of the term ‘refugee’. Currently, the definition includes five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and membership. The UN expanded the initial definition from WWII refugees to refugees fleeing any sort of persecution. It only makes sense that another expansion should take place now. The Organization of African Unity’s definition goes beyond the five protected areas to label any person fleeing persecution in his or her country a refugee. Third, the EU must decrease the seventy-five percent recognition rate - requiring that a refugee must be recognized by three fourths of the Member States to be considered for one of the proposed relocation schemes (i.e. relocating from countries like Greece and Italy). Finally, this paper argues that the EU must do everything it can to address the refugee crisis. The EU’s values make it the ideal institution to address the refugee crisis, and it is crucial that it does so before it is too late. This is an opportunity for the EU to be a humanitarian, economic, and social leader.

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