EU proposals to renew asylum rules

The aim is to treat all asylum-seekers in a fair and equal way

03 December 2008. Today the European Commission adopted proposals to amend three of the existing legislative instruments of the Common European Asylum System: the Directive on reception conditions for asylum-seekers; the Dublin Regulation which determines the Member State responsible for an asylum application; and the Eurodac Regulation, a data base containing the fingerprints of asylum seekers, which supports the operation of the Dublin Regulation.

Last October, the British Home Secretary David Blunkett said that the UK government will veto a common EU asylum system and retain the country’s own processing center, visas and border guards.

The EU amendments are the first concrete proposals presented by the Commission to implement the Policy Plan on Asylum and the Pact on Immigration and Asylum. Their aim is to ensure that all asylum-seekers are treated in a fair and equal way wherever they make their request for asylum in the EU, and to enhance the efficiency of the EU asylum system.

Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, the Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, stated that "Our aim is to put the asylum seekers at the heart of a human and fair procedure. We need to ensure higher standards of protection, a more equal level playing field and higher efficiency for the system".

He went on to add that "By amending the Reception Condition Directive we improve the living conditions of asylum seekers, restrict their detention to limited and justified grounds, and prohibit in case of minors, and properly address the needs of vulnerable persons, such as victims of torture. By amending the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations I want to ensure an increased efficiency and fairness of the European asylum system. Finally, as a first sign of internal solidarity, I have proposed the establishment of a mechanism to suspend Dublin transfers in order to prevent that Member States experiencing particular pressures on their asylum systems are not further overburdened."

Reception Conditions Directive

In particular the proposal aims to:

  • ensure that detention is used only in exceptional cases and provides for legal safeguards in order to ensure that detention is not arbitrary, and guarantees that children are not to be detained unless it is in their own interest (and unaccompanied minors shall never be detained);
  • ensure that mechanisms are established at national level with a view to identifying early in the asylum procedure persons with special needs and to guarantee that appropriate treatment is available;
  • facilitate access to the labor market and ensure that further restrictions applied by Member States do not hinder actual access to employment;

Dublin Regulation
The proposal:

  • establishes a mechanism of suspension of Dublin transfers in limited circumstances in order to prevent that Member States experiencing particular pressure on their asylum systems are not further overburdened because of Dublin transfers
  • ensures that asylum-seekers are not sent to Member States who cannot offer them an adequate standard of protection in particular in terms of reception conditions and access to the asylum procedure.
  • clarifies the circumstances and procedures for applying certain rules, such as those allowing Member States to take responsibility for an asylum seeker for humanitarian and compassionate reasons
  • Introduces additional guarantees concerning the right to appeal against a transfer decision, in order to ensure that the right to remedy is effective;
  • facilitates the right to family reunification, in particular as concerns the reunification of an applicant with relatives between whom there is a dependency link and with beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;
  • better defines the rules applicable to unaccompanied minors in order to protect their best interests.

Eurodac Regulation

The proposal:

  • establishes rules to ensure truly prompt transmission of fingerprints to the Central Unit of EURODAC in order to ensure that the Member State responsible under the Dublin Regulation for examining the application is correctly identified;
  • establishes technical rules to ensure that Member States delete data which is no longer necessary for the purpose for which were collected and to ensure that Commission can better monitor the respect of the data protection principles;
  • clarifys the provisions ensuring effective monitoring by the Commission and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) of access to data in EURODAC by national authorities.

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