Fellow Talk
Thu 04 May 2023 | 15:00–16:00

EU-Belarus Border Crisis and the Erosion of Asylum-Seeker Rights in a Comparative Perspective

Fellow Talk by Aleksandra Ancite-Jepifánova (Independent Scholar), chaired by Teresa Violante (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Throughout the second half of 2021, the situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus had continuously remained one of the topics dominating the European public and political agenda. In response to the rising numbers of asylum-seekers trying to cross into the EU from Belarus, three EU Member States – Poland, Latvia and Lithuania – declared a state of emergency on the Belarus border and introduced changes to domestic asylum legislation. In the local media and political discourses, the issue has been widely framed as a security threat and a ‘hybrid attack’ orchestrated by Minsk. The legislation adopted in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania comes into considerable tension with the EU asylum acquis and international law, particularly where it concerns access to the asylum procedure and the compliance with the non-refoulement principle. Although the three Member States have reacted to the perceived crisis in a similar manner, their responses have not been identical. The present study aims to systematically examine the relevant legislative measures imposed and their practical implications for the non-EU nationals involved from a comparative perspective. It will also access the EU-level response to the events at the border and its wider implications for the rule of law in the EU.

Dr.Aleksandra Ancite-Jepifánova holds a PhD in Law from Queen Mary University of London (2021) and has taught EU Law at London School of Economics (LSE). Her research interests primarily lie in the fields of EU free movement, migration and asylum law, currently focusing on the EU-Belarus border crisis and the position of EU citizens and their family members in the UK post-Brexit. Aleksandra’s dissertation critically examines the concept of marriages of convenience in EU and UK law in so far as it concerns the exercise of EU citizens’ right to family reunion. For her PhD, she has received the ELFA 2021 award for the best doctoral thesis on European law (proxime accessit). Her first monograph, based on her doctoral research, is under contract with Brill. Since autumn 2021, she has been undertaking a socio-legal study on the situation at the EU’s border with Belarus, which involves qualitative interviews with the non-EU nationals affected. Apart from her academic work, Aleksandra has extensive experience in journalism, including interviewing vulnerable individuals and covering trauma. Alongside her PhD research in London, she was part-based in Bonn where she worked for Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

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