Beyond the ‘Hybrid Threat’ Paradigm: EU-Belarus Border Crisis and the Erosion of Asylum-Seeker Rights in a Comparative Perspective
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.