A Safe Country to Emulate? Canada and the European Refugee
The Global Reach of European Refugee Law, Hélène Lambert, Jane McAdam, Maryellen Fullerton, eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2013
Date Written: November 16, 2013
Asylum policies seem to migrate across borders with notably greater ease than asylum seekers themselves. Many – though not all -- of these ‘mobile’ asylum policy instruments aim to securitize, deter, deflect and reject asylum seekers. The easy circulation and morphing of ideas between Canada, the US, Australia, the EU Member States and the EU itself can make it difficult to identify origins or label any particular iteration as an instance of emulation.
Canada is both sending and receiving country for this policy migration. In this contribution to an edited volume, the author focuses on Canadian refugee policy toward Roma asylum seekers from the European Union (especially Hungary) which culminated in the adoption of a 'safe country of origin' (SCO) rule. The purpose of the rule is to facilitate the rejection of Roma asylum seekers by deeming their countries of nationality as non-refugee producing states and, by implication, discrediting Roma asylum seekers as disingenuous. Various European states have adopted SCO provision and the EU Asylum Directive authorizes such provisions. The Canadian SCO policy was doubtless inspired by the precedent of individual EU Member States (especially the UK). But I contend that Canada’s posture toward the EU was less about emulation than appeasement. The EU’s stature as supranational political and economic power did spur the adoption of the SCO, but not because the European imprimatur made the SCO concept intrinsically enticing. Instead, I identify two motives driving Canada’s adoption of an SCO provision: First, placating EU irritation about visa requirements and, second, facilitating the conclusion of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement. The paper explains the functional differences between the Canadian SCO and its transatlantic cousins. The author also suggests that the normative subtext of Canada’s SCO provision may owe as much to another EU instrument, the 1999 Aznar Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam (which denies access to asylum in the EU by EU citizens), as it does to the SCO concept (which governs third country nationals seeking asylum in the EU).
Keywords: asylum, refugee, European Union, Canada, Roma, Safe Country of Origin, Asylum Directive, visas, trade agreement
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