The right to asylum is not just one of many human rights. At its core, asylum is an institution that has been known since antiquity, granting the protection of a sovereign, secular or religious, to those who have lost their place in the general order. In its present form, based on the Geneva Refugee Convention of 1951, this principle is expressed above all in the conviction that persons who lose the protection of one state are thereby not excluded from the entire organised humanity, but should find access to protection in other states. The right to asylum thus aims to overcome the rightlessness of refugees.
However, an inquiry of the past decades of asylum policy in the EU shows that more and more creative legal and political measures are being sought to avoid responsibility for upholding the right to asylum. This development has worsened in recent months and years, up to the very perversion of asylum law: The right of individuals is redefined as an act of grace and asylum seekers are accused of corrupt motives and being intrinsically unwilling to integrate. A range of administrative, police, social and legal measures are designed to restrict the freedom of movement of refugees in order to prevent access to asylum in the EU. Development funds are used to subordinate the legitimate aspirations of other regions of the world to creating a space of internal mobility to the goal of Fortress Europe. Protection from refugees replaces the protection of refugees. Rescuing human lives becomes a crime.
It is therefore of particular importance to our institute to pay considerable attention to questions of asylum law within the framework of our research activities. The current focus of our work is on access to asylum in Europe and the external dimension of European asylum policy. Moreover, we are working on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the access of asylum seekers to the labour market.