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The UN Global Compacts and the Common European Asylum System: Coherence or Friction?

Elspeth Guild; Kathryn Allinson; Nicolette Busuttil

This paper examines the “protective potential” of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants visà-vis existing commitments to fundamental rights within the European Union (EU). The relationship between the two normative frameworks is scrutinised to establish the extent to which the two might be mutually supportive or contradictory, since this determines the Compacts’ capacity to inform the interpretation of EU fundamental rights within the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). This paper explores this protective potential through three of the Compacts’ key guiding principles: respect for human rights and the rule of law, the principle of non-regression, and the principle of non-discrimination. The Compacts’ commitments to the first two are presented as sites of coherence where the Compacts concretely express pre-existing protections within EU law and provide a blueprint for implementation in the migration sphere. Yet, the Compacts’ principle of non-discrimination reveals an area of friction with EU primary law. It is argued that the implementation of this principle can address the inherently discriminatory system underpinning EU law. Within the EU, rather than undermining international and national human rights obligations, the Compacts present an opportunity to refine the implementation of existing EU fundamental rights obligations applicable to migrants and refugees. 

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