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Almost everyone thinks that the current EU system of rules governing asylum seekers and refugees is problematic. The system has failed to harness the bloc’s collective resources to address, in a just manner, the challenge posed by the sudden influx of migrants in 2015 and the continued arrivals since. And it is no doubt ill-prepared for the future of regular and irregular flows to Europe. But what would be a better system and why? In September 2020, the European Commission released its ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’. The pact includes a reform package to Dublin regulations; significantly, it purports to strike the right balance between responsibility and solidarity. But many commentators are skeptical that the new pact brings anything new to the table, and, in many areas, may be a step back.


The aim of this workshop is to bring together top legal and policy-oriented scholars with political philosophers working in related areas to discuss what a just system of rules for EU asylum seekers and refugees would look like. In particular, participants are encouraged to reflect on the question of what a fair distribution of responsibilities for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees requires in Europe. The aim of the workshop is to be bold in its proposals and principles, in the realization that ‘to achieve the possible we must sometimes reach out for the impossible’ (Weber). The workshop is funded by an ERC Grant, no. 771635, ‘Solidarity in the European Union’ (EUSOL) and is in collaboration with RefMig

 Here are some examples of more specific questions that would guide the discussion: 

  • What principles should guide the distribution of responsibility for the protection of refugees and asylum seekers among member states (including responsibility for pre-screening, for processing applications, for hosting, for covering costs)?
  • The new pact proposes a “compulsory, flexible” solidarity system that allows member states to choose how to fulfill their part (they, can for instance, choose between relocations and financial contributions). Is such a scheme just? Would other schemes do better (e.g., a market in tradeable quotas)?
  • Is the current distribution key used to assign responsibility among member states fair (based on, inter alia, GDP, population size, unemployment rate, and number of asylum applications received)? What principles should guide our judgment?
  • Does justice require that some states take up the slack when others fail to comply? Is there something normatively significant about the EU that generates special duties to take up the slack?
  • What should be done about states that fail to comply? What kinds of conditionality/issue linkage are permissible to enforce/ensure compliance?
  • What division of authority should there be between the EU and its member states in deciding the criteria and procedures for processing refugee applications?


Leila Hadj Abdou (University of Vienna)

Sara Amighetti (University of Zurich)

Cathryn Costello ( Univeristy of Oxford)

Mollie Gerver ( University of Essex)

Martin Hagen (CUNEF)

Siba Harb (KCL)

Eszter Kollar (KU Leuven)

Esin Küçük (University of Lancaster)

Francesco Maiani (University of Lausanne)

Eleonora Milazzo (EUI)

Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga (UC3M)

David Owen (University of Southampton)

Andrea Sangiovanni (KCL)



Monday 7 June

9:20-9:30 Welcome

9:30-10:10 David Owen (Southampton), Between Solidarity and Self-interest: Models for European Asylum Policy

10:20-11:00 Francesco Maiani (Lausanne), Fair sharing in the Common European Asylum System: what means for what doctrine?

11:10-11:50 Jennifer Allsopp (Harvard) and Cathryn Costello (Oxford), Smuggling Prohibitions Versus Duties of Humanity: ‘Crimes of Solidarity’ in Comparative Constitutional Law


12:50-13:30 Esin Küçük (Lancaster), (Un)fairness in Sharing Asylum Responsibilities in the EU: A Legal Analysis

13:40-14:20 Sara Amighetti (Zurich) and Siba Harb (KCL), What Grounds for Sharing Responsibilities


Tuesday 8 June

9:30-10:10 Eleonora Milazzo (EUI), Asymmetric Interstate Solidarity and Return Sponsorships

10:20-11:00 Mollie Gerver (Essex), Asylum Substitutes

11:10-11:50 Leila Hadj Abdou (Vienna) & Eszter Kollar (KU Leuven), "Deterring bad faith migrants or constraining good faith refugees? The claims of rejected asylum seekers"


12:50-13:30 Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga (UC3M) and Martin Hagen (CUNEF), Can market mechanisms solve the refugee crisis?

13:40-14:20 Andrea Sangiovanni (KCL), The Ethics of Tradable Refugee Quotas

14:20-15:00 Conclusion




This is a pre-read workshop. The papers will be presented but only very briefly. Please register via this Eventbrite page to receive the papers before the workshop. The papers will be uploaded around the 24th of May. Registration is free but limited to 15 places.


At this event

Andrea  Sangiovanni

Professor of Philosophy

Eleonora Milazzo

Research Associate

Event details