This is the first post in a two-part series on the internal protection alternative (IPA) based on Jessica Schultz ’s new book on the topic. We start with a case study on Norway and will follow up with a post reflecting on refugee law’s ‘surrogate’ role which states use to justify IPA practice.

By Jessica Schultz, Researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute.

A post mortem on the demise of the reasonableness requirement: The IPA in Norway

It might surprise some readers that Norway, normally viewed as a human rights stalwart, is at the forefront of efforts to push the boundaries of refugee law in a restrictive direction. Like other European States, Norway responded to the influx of refugee claims in 2015 with a barrage of policies intended to deter and divert refugee flows. Border controls, safe third country transfers, time limits on residence, and restricted family reunification were among the measures adopted to ensure that Norway’s policies at a minimum were not more generous than those of its neighbors.  

In one area, however, Norway’s restrictions surpassed those of other states: it lowered the threshold for applying the ‘internal protection alternative’ (IPA) as a basis for denying refugee claims. IPA practice is premised on the view that refugee law comes into play when the claimant’s country of origin cannot or will not provide protection itself. If a domestic alternative to asylum abroad is accessible, safe, and reasonable, UNHCR and many states accept that a refugee claim may be refused.

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by Mauro Gatti, Research Associate, University of Luxembourg, Faculté de Droit, Economie et Finance

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (hereinafter, Global Compact) has become the focus of heated discussion in Europe. The Global Compact is a seemingly inoffensive UN document, approved by more than 150 states at the Intergovernmental Conference of Marrakesh on 10-11 December 2018. The EU and all its Member States supported the Compact since 2016, but several European leaders lately criticised it, alleging that it violates national sovereignty and prevents countries from controlling their borders. The Compact thus became the object of political attention, parliament debates, and even a government crisis. Several EU states decided not to participate in the adoption of the Compact in the intergovernmental conference of Marrakesh and at least seven announced that they would not support it in the UN General Assembly.

How did we come to EU States’ exit from the Global Compact? Is there anything the EU may do about it? To answer these questions, this post describes the Compact (1) and shows that all EU Member States initially supported it (2), but some EU countries later opposed it (3). While this fragmentation is potentially in breach of EU law (4), there is little the EU can do at this stage, either at the judicial level (5) or at the political one: The opposition to the Compact has propagandistic objectives, that cannot be negotiated away (6).

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By Elspeth Guild, Jean Monnet Professor ad personam, Radboud University Nijmegen and Queen Mary University of London



The determination of the British Government to follow the ‘voice of the people’ after the referendum of 23 June 2016 and trigger Article 50 Treaty on European Union (the provision which permits a Member State to leave the EU) has resulted in an inordinate number of very lengthy documents which seek to nail down the terms of the UK’s departure scheduled 29 March 2019 and set a path for the future. Negotiations regarding the terms of the UK’s departure started in September 2016 and among the most important issues was the treatment of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU after departure. By 19 March 2018 a UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement had been hammered out. This remained the state of the art until negotiations re-commenced in November 2018 and resulted in the final version of the Agreement on 25 November 2018 endorsed by the EU leaders. At the same time as the Withdrawal Agreement, EU leaders also endorsed a Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK.

The agreement requires adoption by both Houses of the British Parliament and the European Parliament. This process will commence in the UK on 11 December 2018. The British Parliament is highly divided about the agreement. The Government which relies on the (Northern Irish) Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for a majority in the House of Commons, faces particular difficulties convincing the DUP members to vote for the agreement as they are dissatisfied with the clause keeping Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union in order to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The purpose of this blog is to examine the importance of the Agreement for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens in the EU 27 and the consequences for these people of the agreement failing to be passed. It also very briefly examines the future of movement of persons between the UK and the EU after 29 March 2019 on the basis of the Political Declaration.

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By Marie De Somer, Head of the Migration & Diversity Programme at the European Policy Centre (EPC) and Guest Professor at the KU Leuven Centre for Public Law.

Dr. Marie De Somer is author of the book ‘Precedents and Judicial Politics in EU Immigration Law’. This blogpost elaborates on one of the arguments developed in the book.

The Court’s Fluctuating Case Law

Much has been written about the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in processes of European integration. It is clear that the progressive expansion of EU competences into ever more areas of law owes a lot to Court-driven dynamics. What is less clear, however, is the extent to which these dynamics took place at the expense of Member States’ intentions.

This question has long occupied both legal and political science scholarship. Academic debates on whether or not the Court acts independently from Member States’ political preferences can be traced back as far as the 1980s for legal scholarship (see e.g., famously, Weiler’s or Rasmussen’s early work) and the early 1990s for political science (see Garrett and Burley & Mattli). In spite of this long academic lineage, neither of the two disciplines has thus far produced much consensual understanding on the topic (see the book’s second chapter for further detail).

Instead, recent legal scholarship continues to discuss questions on the Court’s legitimacy – or whether or not it is an ‘activist’ institution – in light of observations of case law outcomes that reverberate beyond the strictly legal sphere (see Adams et al. or De Witte et al.). Similarly, political science on the Court remains occupied with, and divided on, the degree of interpretative leeway the EU judiciary enjoys relative to Member States’ preferences (see for a recent contribution e.g., Blauberger et al.)

The salience of these debates has increased significantly in recent years. Writing against the background of the Brexit vote and a generally increasing politicisation of European governance, the topicality of understanding the Court’s precise role and autonomy could hardly be greater.

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by Silvia Carta, LL.M. candidate at the Institute for European Studies (IEE) of the Université libre de Bruxelles and member of the Odysseus Network OMNIA Project Team

Omnia project logo 

In the past months, Italian migration policies have been in the spotlight with regard to the deterrence measures adopted to prevent sea arrivals of migrants. After the closure of ports to vessels transporting migrants and the reduction of search and rescue operations at sea, the government adopted a restrictive approach to the internal norms, reforming the architecture of the Italian system of protection.

On 24 September 2018, the Italian Council of Ministers unanimously adopted a new Decree-Law on Immigration and Security. Strongly endorsed by the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, the final text of the Decree contains ‘urgent measures’ on international protection and immigration, as well as on public security, prevention of terrorism and organised crime. Following the approval of the President of Republic, the bill has come into force on October 5. The future of the Decree now lays in the hands of the Parliament, which will have to transpose it into law within sixty days of its publication or it will retrospectively lose its effect.

The securitarian approach adopted sparked strong criticism within civil society and the President of the Republic himself accompanied his signature with a letter addressed to the President of the Council, reminding that all ‘constitutional and international obligations’ assumed by Italy remain binding, even if there is no explicit reference to them in the Decree. This blog post provides an overview of the first two Chapters of the Decree-Law, dedicated to immigration and asylum. It will further analyze their impact on the rights of protection seekers and their compatibility with European law, International law as well as the Italian Constitution. Continue reading »

by David Fernández Rojo, PhD Researcher, University of Deusto

This blog article also examines the key novelties included in the amended proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum, as this was put forward by the European Commission on 12th September 2018 following the speech on the 2018 State of the Union by President Juncker.


From May to July 2016, the Commission put forward a wide-ranging European Asylum package, which included the establishment of a European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA). The Council and the European Parliament reached a partial agreement on 28 June 2017 on twelve chapters of the Regulation on the future EUAA with the exception of Chapter 1 (“The European Union Agency for Asylum”), Chapter 3 (“Country information and guidance”), Chapter 5 (“Monitoring”), and Chapter 9 (“Organization of the Agency”). President Juncker announced in his speech on the 2018 State of the Union made on 12 September, the Commission’s intention to “further develop the European Asylum Agency to make sure that Member States get more European support in processing asylum seekers in line with the Geneva Convention”. On the same day, the Commission that welcomes the agreement concluded by the legislators released an amended proposal containing only targeted amendments reinforcing the operational tasks of the EUAA. This blog post analyzes the key novelties tabled in both 2016 and 2018 Commission proposals, and critically assesses what changes they will bring about to EASO’s current mandate in comparison with the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard following Regulation 2016/1624 of 14 September 2016.

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