European Commission Presents Proposals for Humane Asylum Policy

EC

The European Commission presented proposals to complete the reform of the Common European Asylum System in order to move towards a fully efficient, fair and humane asylum policy – one which can function effectively both in times of normal and in times of high migratory pressure. The creation of a common procedure for international protection, uniform standards for protection and rights granted to beneficiaries of international protection and the further harmonization of reception conditions in the EU was suggested.

Overall, these proposals will simplify and shorten the asylum procedure and the decision-making, discourage secondary movements of asylum seekers and increase integration prospects of those that are entitled to international protection.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said:”The EU needs an asylum system which is both effective and protective, based on common rules, solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibilities. The proposed reforms will make sure that persons in genuine need of international protection get it quickly, but also that those who do not have the right to receive protection in the EU can be returned swiftly. With today’s proposals, all the elements for the reform of the Common European Asylum Policy are on the table of the European Parliament and the Council.”

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “What we propose today is the closing piece of a comprehensive reform of the EU’s common asylum system. The changes will create a genuine common asylum procedure and guarantee that asylum seekers are treated in an equal and appropriate manner, regardless of the Member State in which they make their application. At the same time, we set clear obligations and duties for asylum seekers to prevent secondary movements and abuse of the procedures. Our objective is to have a common system which is quick, efficient and based on harmonized rules and mutual trust between Member States.”

The legislative proposals presented today follow the first set of proposals adopted by the Commission on May 4.

A fair and efficient common EU procedure

The Commission is proposing to replace the Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation establishing a fully harmonized common EU procedure for international protection to reduce differences in recognition rates from one Member State to the next, discourage secondary movements and ensure common effective procedural guarantees for asylum seekers. The proposal will:

  • Simplify, clarify and shorten asylum procedures: The overall procedure is shortened and streamlined, with decisions normally to be taken within six months or less. Shorter time-limits (between one and two months) are introduced in particular in cases where applications are inadmissible or manifestly unfounded, or in cases where the accelerated procedure applies. Time limits are also introduced for lodging appeals (ranging from one week to one month) and for decisions at the first appeal stage (ranging from two to six months);
  • Ensure common guarantees for asylum seekers: Asylum seekers will be guaranteed the right to a personal interview and to free legal assistance and representation already during the administrative procedure. Reinforced safeguards are provided for asylum seekers with special needs and for unaccompanied minors, for whom a guardian should be assigned at the latest five days after an application has been made;
  • Ensure stricter rules to combat abuse: New obligations to cooperate with the authorities are introduced as well as strict consequences if these obligations are not met. Sanctions for abuse of the process, lack of cooperation and secondary movements, which are currently optional, are made compulsory, and include the rejection of the application as implicitly withdrawn or manifestly unfounded, or the application of the accelerated procedure;
  • Harmonize rules on safe countries: The Commission clarifies and makes mandatory the application of the safe country concepts. The Commission also proposes to fully replace the national designations of safe countries of origin and safe third countries with European lists or designations at EU level within five years from the entry into force of the Regulation.

Harmonized protection standards and rights

Asylum seekers must be able to obtain the same form of protection regardless of the Member State in which they make their application and for as long as it is needed. To harmonize protection standards in the EU and put an end to secondary movements and asylum shopping, the Commission proposes to replace the existing Qualification Directive with a new Regulation. The proposal will ensure:

  • Greater convergence of recognition rates and forms of protection: The type of protection and the duration of residence permits granted to beneficiaries of international protection will be harmonized. Member States will be obliged to take into account guidance provided by the European Agency for Asylum on the situation in the country of origin of an asylum seeker as well as assessing possible internal protection alternatives whilst fully respecting the principle of non-refoulement.
  • Firmer rules sanctioning secondary movements: The five-year waiting period for beneficiaries of international protection to become eligible for long term resident status will be restarted each time the person is found in a Member State where he/she does not have the right to stay or reside;
  • Protection is granted only for as long as it is needed: A compulsory status review is introduced to take into account, for example, changes in countries of origin which could impact the need for protection;
  • Strengthened integration incentives: The rights and obligations of persons benefitting from international protection with regard to social security and social assistance will be clarified and access to certain types of social assistance can be made conditional on participation in integration measures.