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Refugee protection as a collective action problem: is the EU shirking its responsibilities?

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Refugee protection efforts have been shown to suffer from substantial collective action problems due to the capacity of restrictive policy measures adopted by one region as a means of shifting refugee responsibilities to other regions. Such responsibility-shifting dynamics have been identified between north and south as well as within these regions. European Union (EU) cooperation on asylum and refugee policies has been criticised for facilitating the adoption of restrictive policy measures and the creation of a 'Fortress Europe'. Fears about the hollowing out of refugee standards have been coupled with concerns about the EU's free-riding on the refugee protection efforts of countries outside the EU. This paper shows that overcoming collective action problems between the Member States has indeed been a key motivation for EU cooperation in this area. However, a comparative analysis of EU asylum laws and refugee protection efforts with those of similar developed countries outside the EU leads to the rejection of some of the assumptions and implications of the 'Fortress Europe' thesis. While there is evidence of north/south burden-shirking and substantial room for improvement in the EU's asylum and refugee regimes, comparative legal research and the analysis of available UNHCR data on other OECD countries suggests that there is no evidence to support the claim that European cooperation has led to uniquely restrictive refugee policies and protection outcomes.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30050/

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