The Commission presented its Green Paper on the Future of the European Asylum system in June 2007. The Green Paper builds on the 2005 Hague Programme Action Plan with its objective of creating a common European asylum system. Such a system aims not only at establishing a level playing field in protection standards across the Member States, but also to ensure a higher degree of solidarity between them. According to the Commission, there is an urgent need for increased European solidarity in the area of asylum and it wants to ensure that responsibility for processing asylum applications and granting protection in the EU is shared equitably. Hence, one of the five chapters of the recent Green Paper is exclusively dedicated to the issue of "Solidarity and Burden-Sharing". The background to this concern about solidarity is the fact that the distribution of asylum seekers and refugees in European countries appears highly inequitable. Moreover, earlier attempts at burden-sharing in thie area have not been particularly effective. It will be argued here that this limited effectiveness is in part the result of specific shortcomings in the institutional design of existing EU burden-sharing instruments. However, even a far-reaching reform of the existing instruments, even though it should be welcomed, is inlikely to achieve the objective of equalising responsibilities across the Member States in this area. What the EU needs is a more comprehensive burden-sharing approach. In this paper I propose that such a new approach should be based on a new conception of burden-sharing which entails both reactive and proactive elements
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