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Regels voor Europees asielbeleid aangescherpt en humaner (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 12 juni 2013.

European Commission


Strasbourg, 12 June 2013

A Common European Asylum System

  • 1. 
    Asylum and the EU

A duty to protect

Asylum is granted to people fleeing persecution or serious harm. Asylum is a fundamental right; granting it is an international obligation under the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees.

In an area of open borders and freedom of movement, we have to have a joint approach to asylum across the EU.

Asylum flows are not constant, nor are they evenly distributed across the EU. They have, for example, varied from a peak of 425 000 applications for EU-27 States in 2001 down to under 200 000 in 2006. In 2012, there were over 330 000.

Asylum must not be a lottery. EU Member States have a shared responsibility to welcome asylum seekers in a dignified manner, ensuring they are treated fairly and that their case is examined to uniform standards so that, no matter where an applicant applies, the outcome will be similar.

The EU as an area of protection

Since 1999, the EU has been working to create a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and improve the current legislative framework.

New EU rules have now been agreed, setting out common high standards and stronger co-operation to ensure that asylum seekers are treated equally in an open and fair system - wherever they apply.

In short:

  • The revised Asylum Procedures Directive aims at fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions. Asylum seekers with special needs will receive the necessary support to explain their claim and in particular there will be greater protection of unaccompanied minors and victims of torture.
  • The revised Reception Conditions Directive ensures that there are humane material reception conditions (such as housing) for asylum seekers across the EU and that the fundamental rights of the concerned persons are fully respected. It also ensures that detention is only applied as a measure of last resort.
  • The revised Qualification Directive clarifies the grounds for granting international protection and therefore will make asylum decisions more robust. It will also improve the access to rights and integration measures for beneficiaries of international protection.
  • The revised Dublin Regulation enhances the protection of asylum seekers during the process of establishing the State responsible for examining the application, and clarifies the rules governing the relations between states. It creates a system to detect early problems in national asylum or reception systems, and address their root causes before they develop into fully fledged crises.
  • The revised EURODAC Regulation will allow law enforcement access to the EU database of the fingerprints of asylum seekers under strictly limited circumstances in order to prevent, detect or investigate the most serious crimes, such as murder and terrorism.
  • 2. 
    Asylum Procedures Directive

What is the asylum procedures directive?

The Asylum Procedures Directive sets out rules on the whole process of claiming asylum, including on: how to apply, how the application will be examined, what help the asylum seeker will be given, how to appeal and whether the appeal will allow the person to stay on the territory, what can be done if the applicant absconds, or how to deal with repeated applications. The previous Directive was the lowest common denominator between Member States at the time. The rules were often too vague and derogations allowed Member States to keep their own rules, even if these went below basic agreed standards.

Key achievements

The new Asylum Procedures Directive is much more precise. It creates a coherent system, which ensures that asylum decisions are made more efficiently and more fairly and that all Member States examine applications with a common high quality standard.

It sets clearer rules on how to apply for asylum: there have to be specific arrangements, for example at borders, to make sure that everyone who wishes to request asylum can do so quickly and effectively. Procedures will be both faster and more efficient. Normally, an asylum procedure will not be longer than six months. There will be better training for decision-makers and more early help for the applicant, so that the claim can be fully examined quickly. These investments will save money overall, because asylum seekers will spend less time in state-sponsored reception systems and there will be fewer wrong decisions, so fewer costly appeals.

Anyone in need of special help - for example because of their age, disability, illness, sexual orientation, or traumatic experiences will receive adequate support, including sufficient time, to explain their claim. Unaccompanied children will be appointed a qualified representative by the national authorities.

Cases that are unlikely to be well-founded can be dealt with in special procedures (‘accelerated’ and ‘border’ procedures). There are clear rules on when these procedures can be applied, to avoid well-founded cases being covered. Unaccompanied children seeking asylum and victims of torture benefit from special treatment in this respect.

Rules on appeals in front of courts are much clearer than previously. Currently, EU law is vague and national systems do not always guarantee enough access to courts. As a result, many cases end up in with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which is costly and creates legal uncertainty. The new rules fully comply with fundamental rights and should reduce pressure on the Strasbourg court.

Member States will also become better equipped to deal with abusive claims, in particular with repetitive applications by the same person. Someone who does not need protection will no longer be able to prevent removal indefinitely by continuously making new asylum applications.

  • 3. 
    Reception conditions directive

What is the reception conditions directive?

The Reception Conditions Directive deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for the examination of their claim. It ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, health care and employment, as well as medical and psychological care. In the past, diverging practices among Member States could however lead to an inadequate level of material reception conditions for asylum seekers.

Key achievements

The new Reception Conditions Directive aims to ensure better as well as more harmonised standards of reception conditions throughout the Union.

For the first time, detailed common rules have been adopted on the issue of detention of asylum seekers, ensuring that their fundamental rights are fully respected. In particular, it:

  • Includes an exhaustive list of detention grounds that will help to avoid arbitrary detention practices and limits detention to as short a period of time as possible;
  • Restricts the detention of vulnerable persons in particular minors;
  • Includes important legal guarantees such as access to free legal assistance and information in writing when lodging an appeal against a detention order;
  • Introduces specific reception conditions for detention facilities, such as access to fresh air and communication with lawyers, NGOs and family members.

The new Directive also clarifies the obligation to conduct an individual assessment in order to identify the special reception needs of vulnerable persons. It provides particular attention to unaccompanied minors and victims of torture and ensures that vulnerable asylum seekers can also access psychological support. Finally, it includes rules on the qualifications of the representatives for unaccompanied minors.

Access to employment for an asylum seeker must now be granted within a maximum period of 9 months.

  • 4. 
    Qualification Directive

What is the qualification directive?

The Qualification Directive specifies the grounds for granting international protection. Its provisions also foresee a series of rights on protection from refoulement, residence permits, travel documents, access to employment, access to education, social welfare, healthcare, access to accommodation, access to integration facilities, as well as specific provisions for children and vulnerable persons. The minimum standards in the previous Directive were to a certain extent vague, which maintained divergences in national asylum legislation and practices. The chances of a person to be granted international protection could vary tremendously depending on the Member State processing the asylum application.

Key achievements

  • The new Qualification Directive will contribute to improve the quality of the decision-making and ensure that people fleeing persecution, wars and torture are treated fairly, in a uniform manner.
  • It clarifies the grounds for granting international protection and leads to more robust determinations, thus improving the efficiency of the asylum process and prevention of fraud, and ensures coherence with the European court’s judgments. It approximates to a large extent the rights granted to all beneficiaries of international protection (recognised refugees and recipients of so-called “subsidiary protection”) on access to employment and health care. It also extends the duration of validity of residence permits for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
  • It ensures a better taking into account of the best interests of the child and of gender-related aspects in the assessment of asylum applications, as well as in the implementation of the rules on the content of international protection.
  • It improves the access of beneficiaries of international protection to rights and integration measures. It better takes into account the specific practical difficulties faced by beneficiaries of international protection.
  • 5. 
    Dublin Regulation

What is the Dublin Regulation?

The core principle of the Dublin Regulation is that the responsibility for examining claim lies primarily with the Member State which played the greatest part in the applicant’s entry or residence in the EU. The criteria for establishing responsibility run, in hierarchical order, from family considerations, to recent possession of visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered EU irregularly, or regularly. Experience of the previous system has however shown the need to better address situations of particular pressure on Member States' reception capacities and asylum systems.

Key achievements

The new Dublin contains sound procedures for the protection of asylum applicants and improves the system’s efficiency through:

  • An early warning, preparedness and crisis management mechanism, geared to addressing the root dysfunctional causes of national asylum systems or problems stemming from particular pressures.
  • A series of provisions on protection of applicants, such as compulsory personal interview, guarantees for minors (including a detailed description of the factors that should lay at the basis of assessing a child’s best interests) and extended possibilities of reunifying them with relatives.
  • The possibility for appeals to suspend the execution of the transfer for the period when the appeal is judged, together with the guarantee of the right for a person to remain on the territory pending the decision of a court on the suspension of the transfer pending the appeal. An obligation to ensure legal assistance free of charge upon request.
  • A single ground for detention in case of risk of absconding; strict limitation of the duration of detention.
  • The possibility for asylum seekers that could in some cases be considered irregular migrants and returned under the Return Directive, to be treated under the Dublin procedure - thus giving these persons more protection than the Return Directive.
  • An obligation to guarantee right to appeal against transfer decision.
  • More legal clarity of procedures between Member States - e.g. exhaustive and clearer deadlines. The entire Dublin procedure cannot last longer than 11 months to take charge of a person, or 9 months to take him/her back (except for absconding or where the person is imprisoned).
  • 6. 

What is EURODAC?

The EURODAC Regulation establishes an EU asylum fingerprint database. When someone applies for asylum, no matter where they are in the EU, their fingerprints are transmitted to the EURODAC central system. EURODAC has been operating since 2003 and has proved a very successful IT tool. Some updates were however required, in particular to reduce the delay of transmission by some Member States, to address data protection concerns and to help combat terrorism and serious crime.

Key achievements

The new Regulation improves the regular functioning of EURODAC.

  • It sets new time limits for fingerprint data to be transmitted, reducing the time which elapses between the taking and sending of fingerprints to the Central Unit of EURODAC.
  • It also ensures full compatibility with the latest asylum legislation and better addresses data protection requirements.
  • Until now, the EURODAC database could only be used for asylum purposes. The new Regulation now allows national police forces and Europol to compare fingerprints linked to criminal investigations with those contained in EURODAC.
  • This will take place under strictly controlled circumstances and only for the purpose of the prevention, detection and investigation of serious crimes and terrorism.
  • Specific safeguards include a requirement to check all available criminal records databases first and limiting searches only to the most serious crimes, such as murder and terrorism.
  • In addition, prior to making a EURODAC check, law enforcement authorities must undertake a comparison of fingerprints against the Visa Information System (where permitted).
  • Law enforcement checks may not be made in a systematic way, but only as a last resort when all the conditions for access are fulfilled.
  • No data received from EURODAC may be shared with third countries.

Useful Links

Statement by Commissioner Malmström


CEAS infographics

Cecilia Malmström's website

Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter

DG Home Affairs website

Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter


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