EU Commission Declares Asylum Rejections at Borders Illegal

A woman named Bintu (R), holding her child, stands with two other migrant women aboard the

The European Commission has declared that European Union member states cannot reject asylum applications at their borders or close their borders to asylum seekers.

Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Internal Affairs and Migration, stated that countries should not push back migrants from the border and that all asylum applications should be allowed to take place within the territory of the European Union.

“Rejections are illegal. Not everyone has the right to asylum, but everyone has the right to be treated in line with our values. When people apply for asylum in the EU, they appeal to European values. And we must honour that appeal,” Ms Johansson said, according to Il Giornale.

Johansson added that the EU would be conducting investigations into member states which rejected migrants at their borders. The commissioner said: “We cannot protect EU borders by violating people’s rights. In my opinion, it is time to consider the possibility of setting up a new mechanism to monitor border rejections. We have to make sure that Member States respect EU law.”

Even during the coronavirus crisis, the European Union has made it clear it supports borders being open for asylum seekers.

In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen initially tried to keep all of the EU internal borders open, stating: “In this moment of crisis it is of utmost importance to keep our internal market going.”

Many countries closed their borders due to the pandemic, but have recently seen a surge in new asylum seeker arrivals upon relaxing the lockdowns, particularly in Italy.

Arrivals have coincided with migrant transport NGOs also resuming their activities in the Mediterranean in recent weeks.

Last week, Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans brought 43 migrants from North Africa to Italy, eight of them testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. A month before, the German NGO Sea-Watch brought 209 migrants, with 28 of them testing positive for the virus.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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