Who is responsible for refugee protection? And who is responsible for the violation of rights of asylum seekers? It is not only since the 2015 crisis that strategies of avoidance have served as an answer to this question. With strategies such as extraterritorialisation or delegation, member states try to either shift responsibility to each other or to externalise responsibility by outsourcing it to third countries or private parties. The Union relies on the same strategies of avoidance. In fact, international refugee law is particularly susceptible to such strategies because it provides for a relatively weak legal status of the individual, and the legal links between states are relatively weak. By contrast, Union law strengthens the rights of the individual (fundamental rights and individual rights) and the legal links between states (trust and solidarity). Therefore, Union law has a particular potential to set limits to the strategies of responsibility avoidance. Unlike international refugee law, the study argues, European asylum law shapes the responsibility for refugee protection as integrated fundamental rights responsibility.
The first part of the study presents the object of investigation as well as the theoretical and methodological context. The thesis starts from a broad understanding of European asylum law (Chapter 1). Responsibility can be understood as the central issue of asylum law (Chapter 2). Union law holds a particular potential for the integration of responsibility in asylum law (Chapter 3). Unfolding this potential is the goal of this thesis. The second part of the study therefore proposes a principle-based reconstruction of European asylum law, with particular attention to the potential of Union law for the integration of responsibility. European asylum law guarantees a fundamental right to asylum. It thus translates responsibility for refugee protection into fundamental rights responsibility (chapter 4). With regard to the organization of this responsibility, the starting point is the principle of national sovereignty under international law (chapter 5). Central to the organization of responsibility in European asylum law, however, are the Union law principles of mutual trust (chapter 6) and solidarity (chapter 7). These principles mark the crucial difference between European asylum law and international refugee law. Against this background, the thesis proposes to understand the answer that European asylum law gives to the question of responsibility as integrated fundamental rights responsibility (chapter 8).