CEU Team at the 2015 Allianz Summer Academy: Changes in EU and Hungarian Asylum Policies Are Needed

September 15, 2015

The lack of effective responses by the EU deepen the humanitarian crisis that causes huge danger and trauma to people escaping from a clear and immediate risk of persecution in their home countries. This crisis adds one more dimension to the multiple crises Europe has been facing for some time now, and is closely interwoven with human rights protection, which is considered to be one of the EU’s greatest achievements.

In their final report entitled Open Borders, Closed Minds: EU Asylum Policy in Crisis, presented on August 2 at the Allianz Summer Academy on Europe (ASA) in Kempfenhausen, Germany, five CEU students and recent graduates investigated "how EU values connect with crisis responses in asylum policy, and how these responses are received and translated in the national arena through the critical case of Hungary." The general topic of ASA 2015, Europe at a Turning Point: Economic Crisis, Social Disintegration, Political Change, provided a perfect framework to discuss the shortcomings of contemporary asylum policy, both at national and EU levels.       

The team, consisting of graduates from Public Policy (Lena Jacobs and Shirlene Afshar Vogl), Nationalism Studies (Sara Sudetic) and IRES (Max Steuer), and SPP Erasmus Mundus student Galen Lamphere-Englund, highlighted the contradiction between EU values and the current legal and political treatment of asylum matters. While human rights principles, on which the EU is grounded, commit it to emphasize inclusiveness and solidarity, several policies in force are much more focused on (arguably ineffective) security and border control.

Coordinated by CEU Professor Marie-Pierre Granger and PhD Candidate Stefan Roch, Afshar Vogl, Jacobs, Lamphere-Englund, Steuer, and Sudetic also explored the status quo of refugee flows into Hungary, reception and asylum procedures, as well as the growing anti-immigrant rhetoric exacerbated by government campaigns. Their analysis concludes with a set of concrete recommendations to EU institutions, the Hungarian government, as well as domestic and international civil society actors.

It is this last group of actors that becomes crucially important in countries like Hungary. This is why the team plans to put forward a project that will offer opportunities for civil society organizations from various European countries to exchange best practices and experiences in helping refugees. Currently, they are working on an application for an ASA Jackpot Project and seek additional funding from other sources.   

The 2015 Edition of ASA, organized thanks to the generous support of the Allianz Cultural Foundation (ACF), brought together student teams and coordinators from five universities (CEU, Bocconi, LMU Munich, Princeton, and Uppsala); ASA alumni through the Allianz Alumni Network; and representatives from the Council of the EU (Dr. Jarosław Pietras), Allianz, and NGOs working in the fields of the reports’ topics. Zoltán Somogyvári from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee served as a discussant of the CEU report and provided valuable insights from the perspective of a human rights lawyer working to help refugees and asylum seekers on a daily basis.