EU hotspots, relocation and absconded migrants in Italy. How to save Schengen within a failing Dublin system?


Italy is the main gate of entry for undocumented migration to the EU which seriously stresses local reception capacity. Secondary movements of migrants to other member states have become a salient issue challenging the border free Schengen area. The EU has been responsive to this situation, introducing ‘hotspots’ and a relocation mechanism that are meant to support local authorities. The policy brief asks whether EU measures can effectively foster migration management in Italy and decrease migrant absconding. Our research on the implementation of EU hotspots in Sicily, the relocation mechanism, and the asylum system in Italy shows that the effectiveness of support measures is limited also because of issues related to policy design and compliance. Tackling the issue of absconding we suggest a double strategy for Italy: building capacity for migrant reception as well as the asylum infrastructure while enforcing the Dublin regulation in a ‘spirit of solidarity’.