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This content is taken from the University of Basel's online course, Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters. Join the course to learn more.

‘Fortress Europe'?

So far, our learning steps have mostly referred to the legal rules on European Union (EU) asylum law. If you read the law you will see that the European Union makes frequent references to the Geneva Convention and to human rights, which it pledges to respect. However, in practice the situation for refugees and asylum seekers is often grim.

In many places, the difficulties begin even with the attempt to enter the territory of the Union in order to be able to ask for asylum there, and thus when the migrants try to cross the external borders of the Union. Here, an additional sub-area of Union law comes into play, namely the Union’s border law.

Critiques of the combined effect of the Union’s asylum and border law have referred to Europe as a ‘fortress’ which keeps out people who are in need. Before we take a look at the Union’s border law, we invite you to watch some video footage on the situation at critical points on the Union’s external border and, against this background, to reflect on ‘Fortress Europe’.

Here are two suggestions of links to news videos from the time of the height of the refugee crisis:

  1. On the situation on the borders to the Spanish exclave Melilla, in Northern Africa: ‘Spain Melilla migrants living on the edge of Europe - BBC News’;
  2. On the situation on the Greek island Lesbos in the Mediterranean: ‘Frontex Greece immigrants’.

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This article is from the free online course:

Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

University of Basel