chapter  9
22 Pages

Europeanising the reception of asylum seekers: the opposite of welfare state politics: Roland Bank

Introduction The rapid growth in numbers of asylum seekers during the 1980s and 1990s has made the conditions governing their access to welfare state benefits an extremely important issue. These debates used to be located at national level with the European Union (EU) best viewed as an arena for cautious co-ordination of national policies. This situation changed following the entry into force in May 1999 of the Amsterdam Treaty, which sets out an entirely new framework for a common European policy on refugees and asylum. 'Minimum standards on the reception of asylum seekers in Member States' are among the issues to be tackled under Community law within five years of the Treaty's entry into force (by 2004). The subsequent secondary European Law will then determine the conditions and social status granted to asylum seekers during the time between their arrival and a decision being made on their claim throughout the twelve member states participating in the policy area (currently not including Denmark, Britain and Ireland). As a result, in future, these important welfare state questions will be governed by European law covering the restriction of certain liberties, such as free movement within the host state, free choice of residence, and the economic, social and cultural situation encountered by asylum seekers in receiving states.