Policy towards asylum seekers has been a controversial topic for more than a decade. Rising numbers of asylum applications have been met with ever-tougher policies to deter them. Following a period of policy harmonisation, the EU has reached a crucial stage in the development of a new Common European Asylum System. This paper seeks to shed light on what form this should take. It summarizes the development of policy to date and it argues that these policies have been too tough, even from the point of view of EU citizens. Using an economic framework, it examines scenarios with different degrees of policy harmonisation and integration among EU countries. Finally, it argues that there is an important role for enhanced burden-sharing arrangements.