Joint research project of the Hungarian Institute for Legal Studies (HAS) and the Italian Institute for International Legal Studies (CNR), 2016-2018
Project Leaders: Balázs Majtényi and Gianfranco Tamburelli
The research will assess the state of the art and the main lines of debate concerning the handling of the refugee question in Europe from a normative point of view. The research will analyse refugee law enforcement in the two countries, and include the relevant international and transnational norms (those of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union), the related case law, domestic jurisprudence and the domestic legislation in force.
Since 2015 European states have been facing a huge influx of refugees, most of whom want to reach Germany, France or the UK, while some others might choose to stay in the country they reach first after entering the EU. The problems, interests and actions of the European centre and the border countries are slightly different. According to Frontex data, from January to September 2015 the two main migratory routes have been through Italy and Hungary, which are both border countries of the EU. Italy has long been a target of Mediterranean crossings, while Hungary is a relatively new (transitory) target of mass migration. Comparative analyses of these countries and of their relation to European and international law will thus reveal important trends and challenges about the future of handling migration to the EU. The political and legal responses of these countries, that meet refugees first and have special obligations under international law – especially the 1951 Geneva Convention and its Protocol of (1967), international human rights conventions and European Union law – should be of primary interest. In theory, under the Geneva Convention, persons who had to flee their home countries because of fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion may have the right to the recognition of their refugee status (see article 1 A (2) of the Convention). However, the whole picture becomes more complex when we check the content of a fragmented European Union law – also considering the preponderance of national competences in this area – and the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights, and especially the refugee related case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The international and European regulations define the framework for domestic regulations. This framework contains rules for possible government actions, and also rules for the protection of asylum seekers. We assume that refugees, just like citizens, have to get protection in this framework, even against competing priorities set by domestic governments. Nevertheless, occasionally governments may (and, in certain instances, are forced to) apply restricting measures against them. The research will focus on the effectiveness of European and international regulation through its application in Italy and Hungary and provide a critical analysis of domestic regulations.
Multifaceted research results are expected. Besides the purely scholarly achievements, like conference papers, journal and book chapters and an edited book, practical results are also foreseen. Findings of the project for the Hungarian, the Italian and the international readership are likely to provide a significant contribution to the literature in the field. It is also reasonable to expect its immediate incorporation into legal and graduate-level political sciences higher education.