TRAFIG Panel at final CEASAVAL Conference

Is there protracted displacement in the European Union?

… asked Albert Kraler, partner of the TRAFIG consortium at the CEASEVAL Project Final Conference “Refuge Europe – a question of solidarity?” at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, on 1st October, 2019.

The TRAFIG project took another opportunity to present, test and discuss the TRAFIG concept and some preliminary findings in the framework of the final conference of the CEASEVAL project – a sister H2020 project – on 1 and 2 October 2019 in Chemnitz, Germany. The Conference titled “Refuge Europe – a question of solidarity?” focused on asylum in the European context thematising questions of harmonisation and solidarity within the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and how everyday borders impact the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in the EU.

On the first of three panels on “Everyday Borders in the Lives of Asylum Seekers and Refugees Coming to Europe (I)” Albert Kraler (DUK) put the TRAFIG core research under a European lens questioning “[whether] there [is] protracted displacement in the European Union?”. Departing from the more global concepts of and discussions on protracted displacement, Albert sought ways of applying it to the European context. Evidently, protracted displacement is not an established term in the EU legal or policy framework. At the same time, the CEAS had a strong aim to prevent refugees landing in “orbit”, which in the EU context referred to a situation where an applicant finds him/herself between the responsibility of several EU Member States or none. The CEAS developed in the past 20 years is a consistent legal protection framework for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of refugee and subsidiary protection status. However, despite that, practice shows several signs of protection gaps: lack of mobility, no or challenging access to employment, less rights for subsidiary protection by increasing use of this status; very limited protection for non-EU-harmonised humanitarian protection statuses in Member States and a significant number of migrants living in an irregular situation within the EU. Albert concluded his findings by pointing at a rather protracted precariousness than displacement hinting to the fact that the EU protection framework, theoretically, provides for solutions, which however often come too short or do not offer solutions that meet the expectations of migrants concerned.

Following this more conceptual lens from the TRAFIG project, the co-panelists approached everyday borders from different angles: Burcu Toğral Koca, Einstein Fellow at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning, discussed to what extent civil society actors and refugees have challenged, transformed and/or reproduced local bordering practices vis-à-vis refugees and the urban space. She found that bordering practices involve both states and non-state actors. “De-bordering” and “re-bordering processes” are not mutually exclusive, but occur simultaneously and are constantly negotiated and reconfigured by different actors. Paul Baumgartner, ICMPD, presented his findings from a broad survey on the access to the labour market for asylum seekers, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in Austria. The research showed that sociodemographic factors such as gender and age play a significant role as do labour market related factors such as the level of education, recognition of qualifications, past occupations and education taken in Austria. Further, the length of stay and the place of residence play an important role whereas the country of origin or the legal status are less important factors. Overall, a mismatch between qualifications and occupation was found, which decreases with the years of stay and is more frequent for higher-skilled persons. Interaction of networks and state support are considered essential for integration by the reference group. Claudia Paraschivescu, from the University of Luxembourg, looked into experiences of border crossings of asylum seekers and refugees after settling in Luxembourg and France - particularly looking into cross-border workers flux in the Greater Region. Claudia pointed at quite similar mobility patterns of asylum seekers and refugees as the local population in the – admittedly rather special – region.

Martin Wagner, Senior Policy Advisor on Asylum at ICMPD, partner in the TAFIG project, moderated the panel session.

Everyday Borders in the Lives of Asylum Seekers and Refugees Coming to Europe (I)

  • Chair: Martin Wagner
  • Papers presented:
  • Milena Belloni, Benjamin Etzold, Albert Kraler, Ferruccio Pastore & Martin Wagner: Is there protracted displacement in the European Union? An exploratory enquiry
  • Burcu Toğral Koca: Local Border Regimes, Civil Society and Refugees: The Cases of Berlin and London
  • Paul Baumgartner & Meike Palinkas: (Perceived) barriers to integration and what to do to overcome them – an empirical analysis of refugee integration trajectories based on survey data from Austria
  • Claudia Paraschivescu, Birte Nienaber & Lucas Oesch: Borders and the mobility of migrants. France and Luxembourg compared.

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