Working Paper BETA #2007-31

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Title : Optimal discretion in asylum lawmaking

Author(s) : Jenny Monheim, Marie Obidzinski

Abstract : This paper studies whether refugee law should be centralized, how it should be centralized, and what are the consequences for migrants seeking protection as well as for host countries. Jurisdictions face different refugee in ows. We show that the resulting varying levels of strictness of the eligibility criteria create a legal externality which leads to a "race to the bottom", or a toughening, of asylum standards. They are stricter than the Pareto efficient level. To solve this problem, we consider two forms of harmonization: fixed and minimum standards. We find no proof that either type would lead to a better result for the member countries than national asylum law making. However, the system of minimum standards is clearly best for refugees, and that it is and better than total harmonization for both host countries.

Key-words : competition in law making, asylum law, European law, human rights.

JEL Classification : K33, H11, D61, D62.