ZiF Cooperation Group

Normative Challenges of the European Asylum System

May 2021 – October 2023

Svenja Ahlhaus (Hamburg, GER)
Matthias Hoesch (Münster, GER)
Susanne Mantel (Saarbrücken, GER)
Petra Sußner (Berlin, GER)



In the European Union, responsibility sharing in refugee protection is organized through supranational regulations. This fact raises several important questions: What kind of regulations are necessary to ensure fairness for each of the states? What conditions are necessary to ensure that responsibility sharing among states is also fair to refugees? How should the EU behave towards third countries and refugees living in third countries? These questions are reflected in the current controversies about the reform of the Dublin Regulation and the events at the external frontiers.

In the Cooperation Group Normative Challenges of the European Asylum System, lawyers, philosophers and political scientists investigate different patterns of responsibility sharing in refugee protection. Their main questions are: which patterns are conceivable for Europe, and how are they to be evaluated normatively? To this end, the cooperation group employs normative standards of three kinds: legal standards - in particular the basic and human rights law and EU constitutional requirements - , as well as philosophical standards of justice and political standards of democratic theory.

The Cooperation Group is especially interested in the question of how to balance the interests of refugees and the interests of states in a system of shared responsibility, as well as how to overcome the normative challenges associated with externalizing refugee protection. What kind of responsibility does a state bear for violations of rights that occur after the transfer to the target state? How is the legitimacy of the so-called "refugee markets", which distribute protection tasks using an economic mechanism, to be assessed? Furthermore, the cooperation group will also critically evaluate some common assumptions underlying the debate on responsibility sharing. For example, the group will examine the European perspective and its focus on refugees who have already reached the territorial borders of Europe.