Seeking Sanctuary across the Sea: Why the Influx of Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Greece Requires Major Policy Changes

By De Orio, Rachael E. | Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Winter 2018 | Go to article overview

Seeking Sanctuary across the Sea: Why the Influx of Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Greece Requires Major Policy Changes


De Orio, Rachael E., Suffolk Transnational Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

The Mediterranean countries on the periphery of Europe, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece, have received more than 300,000 persons seeking international protection by sea in 2016. (1) Currently, Greece is host to approximately 57,000 of these individuals who have fled their homeland in the hopes of a better, safer life in the European Union. (2) Unfortunately, these refugees and asylum seekers have not found the haven they were expecting; instead, they are perpetually waiting in interim camps for official documentation of their status while Greece faces criticisms for the deplored conditions of these temporary "homes." (3) The influx of refugees into the European Union, particularly to border countries such as Greece, is straining the asylum systems meant to assist those individuals fleeing countries torn apart by war and political instability. (4) The European Union's Schengen Agreement, which permits free travel between ratifying European countries, and the Dublin Regulation, which determines the country responsible for an asylum applicant, are under criticism from world leaders and policy makers who question the sustainability of these protocols. (5)

This Note will examine how the economic crisis in Greece is contributing to the country's inefficient response and escalation of its refugee crisis. (6) It will evaluate the application of E.U. laws and regulations in Greece and argue for the implementation of new action to better address the needs of the refugees who wait indefinitely in Greece's interim camps. (7) Part II will explore Greece's financial history and examine how its inability to avoid debt left the country unprepared to manage the subsequent mass migration, fueled by global unrest and violence. (8) Part III will examine Greece's current economic instability and the effects that has on the nation's response to the refugee crisis. (9) Part IV will analyze the European Union's current asylum regulation systems and propose that the regulations' ineffectiveness requires the termination of current systems, or at the very least, creation of new policies, rather than reimplementation of failed protocols. (10) Finally, Part V shall conclude that the resolution to the immigration crisis depends on existing regulations understanding the financial burden levied on countries already experiencing economic instability. (11)

II. HISTORY

The migration crisis, though occurring throughout Europe, is substantially impacting Greece, whose geographical proximity to the Middle East and Africa makes it the country of first contact for those asylum seekers and refugees fleeing war and socio-political unrest in their home countries. (12) Greece is criticized for inadequately managing the migration surge, and its recent financial crises calls into question the country's capacity to make an effective, substantial response. (13) The refugee crisis in Greece is compounded by the nation's failed infrastructure systems, legislative challenges, and uncertainty as to how to respond to this broad global problem. (14)

A. Greece's Economic Crisis

1. Lead Up to the Economic Crisis

The state of Greece's economy during the past twenty years is marked by quick growth of gross domestic product (GDP) and productivity, followed by an equally rapid breakdown of this financial progress. (15) Initially, Greece experienced both an efficient credit market and macroeconomic stability from its inclusion in the Eurozone. (16) The Eurozone, a bloc of nineteen E.U. States who use the euro as their common currency, is a defining feature of European integration. (17) As a smaller state with a relatively-sized global economy, Greece was highly reliant upon the European Union for financial support to stave off high inflation rates and currency devaluations, the unavoidable consequences of joining the Eurozone. (18)

Before the Eurozone became a reality in 1999, economists already expressed concerns about Greece's desire to participate in the eventual convergence of the European economy when the country joined the European Union in 1981. …

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