External Border Control Techniques in the EU as a Challenge to the Principle of Non-Refoulement

EU law protects fundamental rights, including the principle of non-refoulement. However, these standards are challenged by national practices, which range from rigid pushbacks to subtler techniques which exploit legal uncertainties by relying on 'safe country' concepts. The EU institutions’ acceptance of such practices further undermines the practical viability of the principle of non-refoulement. These developments call into question EU’s values and are steadily modifying its constitutional fabric. The Migration Pact could further compromise Member States’ duty to ensure meaningful protection of refugees. This contribution shows that there is a substantive change in the Member States’ border and admission to procedure practices, which range from the exploitation of legal uncertainties to direct breaches of human rights obligations, including the principle of non-refoulement. It will be suggested that this change is widening the gap between the professed legal principle and practice.