Research from the School of Law and Social Justice informs European Union refugee status debate

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The European Flag.

Research from University of Liverpool’s Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas, Dean of the School of Law and Social Justice has informed debate in reference to a legal case involving an individual who was granted refugee status in Greece, but had their application rejected by Germany.

Germany cannot send the individual back to Greece due to concerns surrounding inhuman treatment they’d experienced there.

The court in Germany had asked for guidance on whether, in situations like this, the second country (Germany) must automatically recognise the refugee status given by the first country (Greece) without further investigation. This also raised a broader question about whether countries in the European Union should always trust and recognise each other’s decisions on refugee status.

Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas’ research was cited twice in the discussion, referencing his work into the mutual recognition of positive asylum decisions in the European Union, and humanising solidarity in European refugee law. The Opinion by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). CJEU Advocate General, Laila Medina, was delivered on 25 January 2024. This marks the fifth occasion this year in which Professor Mitsilegas’ research has been highlighted in Opinions by Advocate Generals of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Professor Mitsilegas stated that in order for mutual recognition of refugee status to be meaningful, the protection and rights which the refugee is granted in the first Member State should follow that person to the second Member State.

There is currently no legal provision in the Dublin III Regulation that explicitly provides for the principle of mutual recognition of positive decisions adopted by other Member States. It was noted that Professor Mitsilegas had made convincing arguments in support of the need for the adoption of such principle through his research, however, EU legislature has not taken definitive steps in that direction.

The conclusion suggested that when a person applies for international protection (like refugee status) in one European Union member states and is rejected due to concerns about inhuman or degrading treatment in another member state, the second member state doesn’t automatically have to accept the international protection granted by the first one.


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