Many actors nowadays share the insight that the Dublin III Regulation and the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) do not provide a mechanism that allows for solidarity-based responsibility sharing between EU Member States. However, there are different ideas and positions on what consequences should follow from this. Instead of an obligatory distribution quota of protection seekers at member state level, we propose a decentralised approach based on solidarity and sharing of responsibility. The EU member states still committed to refugee reception could allow their local/regional authorities to autonomously welcome refugees.
Both the interests of the municipalities and the refugees could be taken into consideration and fruitfully combined through a matching process. Cities could present themselves to potential newly arriving refugees with their needs (training places, desire for families with children, etc.) and offers (e.g. welcome guides, intercultural projects, already existing connections to countries of origin, etc.) on a digital platform. Refugees often do not know what to expect in the host communities. This concerns both concrete needs such as housing, job opportunities and childcare, as well as more general factors such as the size of the city, the surroundings, and the city infrastructure. However, it is ultimately the inhabitants of a community who can make newcomers feel welcome.. A “matching platform” could also give civil society initiatives the opportunity to get in touch directly with refugees.
Those seeking protection could also indicate their own preferences. After matching the preferences of municipalities and refugees, refugees could indicate a preference for a municipality from the ‘matches’. Such a platform helps to concretise and communicate the expectations on both sides – the city and the refugees.
It is important to stress, that access to the asylum procedure must be guaranteed from the very beginning regardless of the results of the matching process. The matching method is also not about ‘cherry picking’ or recruiting people, but about acknowledging that municipalities and people are different and diverse. [JK1] Respecting asylum seekers’ preferences, as well as allowing for better planning on the part of the municipalities, is better than enforcing a mandatory relocation quota. A quota does not consider the wishes of asylum seekers on where to settle nor the specific resources of the municipalities.