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March 2019

The right to asylum in the European Union: Legal and political challenges


Four million asylum applications were filed in the European Union between 2013 and 2017. While the incoming flow of refugees has decreased since then, political tensions between EU Member States have continued to increase and intensify, pushing the Union to the verge of disunity. In the context of upcoming European elections, a joint report by Institut Montaigne and Terra Nova calls for overhauling European asylum policy and for a rapid, unified response to the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean: Saving the Right to Asylum. The introductory talk will be given by Marc-Olivier Padis (Head of Studies Department, Terra Nova) and Jean-Paul Tran Thiet (Senior Fellow and Former Board Member, Institut Montaigne) based on this report outlining possible reforms of the common European asylum system. This will be followed by commentaries from two discussants, Fanny Thornton (University of Canberra) and Josefin Graef (Hertie School), on the wider political and legal challenges facing the right to asylum in Europe and beyond in the 21st century.


Helmut K. Anheier, Professor of Sociology and Past President, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
Francis Vérillaud, Special Advisor, Institut Montaigne, Paris

Opening statements

Marc-Olivier Padis, Head of Studies Department, Terra Nova
Jean-Paul Tran Thiet, Senior Fellow, Former Board Member, Institut Montaigne, Paris and Co-Author of “Saving the Right to Asylum

Discussants’ response

Fanny Thornton, Assistant Professor in Law, School of Law and Justice, University of Canberra
Josefin Graef, Dahrendorf Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin


Michaela Kreyenfeld, Professor of Sociology, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

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