Friday, 29 September 2023

The Asylum Lottery: The Challenges of Refugee Policy Making

Part 3 of the Online Event Series "(Un)Solvable Problems?"

Talk by Ruud Koopmans

The European asylum system has become a lottery: Geographical location, money, fitness, and sheer luck on the dangerous land and sea routes determine who makes it to the border, can apply for asylum, and immigrate. This is not the way to help those most in need, and it creates numerous problems for Europe in terms of integration. The complex web of restrictions and regulations around the right to asylum is a symptom of a refugee policy that rewards people who make it to Europe's borders. Those who don't make it are left behind. But Europe is not doing itself any favors with this system.

In his talk, Ruud Koopmans uses concrete cases and statistical data to describe why the current system makes integration more difficult, threatens internal security, strengthens right-wing populism, divides Europe, and makes it dependent on autocrats who open or close their borders to Europe according to their own whims. The so-called refugee crisis of 2015 is proving to be a home-grown crisis of asylum policy. Koopman’s review, based on several years of research, concludes with a pragmatic proposal on how we can regain control through generous humanitarian admissions combined with curbing irregular immigration so that asylum policy does not remain a life-threatening lottery game.

Ruud Koopmans is Director of the Research Unit Migration, Integration, Transnationalization.


The event is part of the new WZB series (Un)Solvable Problems? Social Science Perspectives on the Challenges of our Time, which will take place online on Fridays from 9 to 10 a.m. until 8 December 2023.

You can listen to all events in our blog.