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New Pact on Migration and Asylum - Building on the progress made since 2016: Questions and Answers

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 23 september 2020.

The asylum and return reforms proposed by the Commission in 2016 and 2018 and on many of which the co-legislators have already found political agreement but did not conclude negotiations are part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum (Qualification Directive, Reception Conditions Directive, EU Asylum Agency Regulation, Union Resettlement Framework and Return Directive). Building on the progress already made by co-legislators, the Pact sets out a way forward to conclude these negotiations, with a view to making procedures more efficient and give stronger guarantees to people affected.

Does the New Pact on Migration and Asylum replace the reform of the asylum and return rules proposed in 2016 and 2018?

The New Pact does not replace the 2016 and 2018 reforms, but builds on them by adding additional elements to ensure a balanced, common framework bringing together all aspects of asylum and migration policy. It constitutes a much broader and more balanced approach than the 2016 and 2018 sets of proposals alone achieved, as well as a major improvement over the status quo.


Status Quo

2016 proposals

New Pact


Ad hoc, non mandatory relocation

Mandatory relocation only in times of crisis (150% of ‘fair share')

Constant solidarity through embedded solidarity mechanisms

Length of Responsibility

12 months


3 years

Free movement of refugees

After 5 years

After 5 years

After 3 years

Border procedure



Mandatory for certain categories

Screening Procedure



Mandatory at border

Crisis Measures



Dedicated Crisis Instrument + Blueprint

Solidarity for search and rescue cases

Ad hoc, non mandatory


Dedicated solidarity mechanism

Definition of family members for reunification

Nuclear family only (spouse and minor children)

Nuclear family only (spouse and minor children)

Nuclear family and siblings

The Commission maintains its proposal and supports the provisional political agreements already reached on the Qualification Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive, the Union Resettlement Framework Regulation and the EU Agency for Asylum Regulation. These should be adopted as soon as possible. The negotiations on the recast Return Directive should also be swiftly concluded.

The Commission is withdrawing only one of its 2016 proposals, the Dublin Regulation, and is putting forward a new proposal for an Asylum and Migration Management Regulation. The Commission is proposing amendments to its 2016 proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation and to the recast Eurodac Regulation. For Eurodac, the amended proposal builds on the provisional agreement reached by co-legislators that the Commission supports.

What will the reformed Qualification Regulation change when it is adopted?

The Commission maintains its proposal for a reformed Qualification Regulation and calls for its swift adoption, building on the provisional political agreement already reached.

The proposed Qualification Regulation will ensure greater convergence of recognition rates across the EU, guarantee the rights of recognised refugees and discourage unauthorised movements within the EU.

The reformed Qualification Regulation will bring:

  • Greater convergence of recognition rates: Harmonised criteria for protection will ensure applicants have the same chance of getting asylum under the same conditions wherever they apply in the EU. This will result in greater convergence of recognition rates which still vary greatly amongst Member States.
  • Protection when and as long as it is needed: Member States will be obliged to withdraw the protection status when protection is no longer needed. Before deciding on an asylum application, possible internal protection alternatives in countries of origin will have to be assessed.
  • Firmer rules sanctioning unauthorised movements: The new rules will discourage unauthorised movements within the EU by introducing sanctions. For example, the clock will be restarted when calculating the required continuous legal residence for EU long-term resident status each time the refugee is found in a Member State where he/she does not have the right to stay or reside.
  • Stronger integration incentives: The new rules will help strengthen integration prospects by clarifying rules on social security and social assistance and allow Member States to link certain social benefits to compulsory integration measures.
  • Better protection for families and minor: Families formed in transit countries will now also be able to benefit from a right to family unity and the best interest of minors will be strengthened in decisions relating to asylum applications and family unity rights.
  • Improved internal security: The new rules introduce an obligation to withdraw a refugee status in cases where a person commits criminal acts or poses a threat to national security.

What will the reformed Reception Conditions Directive change when it is adopted?

The Commission maintains its proposal for a reformed Reception Conditions Directive and calls for its swift adoption, building on the provisional political agreement already reached.

The proposed Reception Conditions Directive will ensure asylum seekers are received under harmonised and decent conditions throughout the EU. It will help prevent unauthorised movements within the EU by clarifying the rights and obligations of asylum seekers

The reformed Reception Conditions Directive will bring:

  • Adequate reception conditions across the EU: Member States will be obliged to have contingency plans in place to ensure sufficient reception capacity at all times, including in times of disproportionate pressure. The European Union Agency for Asylum will provide guidance to assist Member States in applying common standards on reception conditions.
  • Right to reception conditions in the responsible Member State only: Asylum seekers will only be provided with full reception conditions in the Member State responsible for their asylum application. This will help prevent unauthorised movements within the EU.
  • Reporting obligations: To discourage asylum seekers from absconding, Member States can assign them a place of residence and impose reporting obligations. In addition, to ensure an efficient procedure, Member States can assign asylum seekers to a geographical area within their territories.
  • Earlier access to the labour market: Asylum seekers will be granted the right to work no later than 6 months after their application was registered.
  • Better protection for child migrants: Minors will receive education within 2 months after their asylum request was lodged. Unaccompanied minors will immediately receive assistance and will be appointed a representative no later than 15 days after an asylum application has been made.

What will the reformed European Union Agency for Asylum change when it is adopted?

The Commission maintains its proposal for a reformed EU Asylum Agency and calls for its swift adoption, building on the provisional political agreement already reached.

The reinforced Asylum Agency will be able to provide a rapid and full service to Member States in normal times as well as in times of challenges, including by carrying out the entire administrative stage of the asylum procedure if requested, as a concrete form of European solidarity.

The reinforced EU Asylum Agency will ensure:

  • Full operational support on asylum procedures whenever needed: The Agency and its deployable Asylum Support Teams will be able to provide a full range of support activities, including carrying out the entire administrative stage of the asylum procedure upon a Member State's request, and also offer assistance with appeals, in full respect of the independence of the judiciary.
  • A greater convergence across the EU in the assessment of protection needs and of reception conditions: In addition to the guidance it already provides, the reinforced Agency will develop guidance, operational standards, indicators and best practices on the situation in countries of origin and on reception conditions, provide training and help Member States prepare contingency plans.
  • Monitoring: The Agency will also monitor the operational and technical application of the Common European Asylum System to help prevent possible shortcomings and swiftly provide support when necessary and requested by a Member State.

What will the Union Resettlement Framework Regulation change when it is adopted?

The Commission maintains its proposal for a Union Resettlement Framework Regulation and calls for its swift adoption, building on the provisional political agreement already reached.

The Union Resettlement Framework Regulation will ensure safe and legal pathways for those in need of protection and provide a stable EU framework for the EU contribution to global resettlement efforts. It will replace the current ad-hoc schemes and set EU-wide 2-year plans for resettling genuine refugees. By contributing collectively to global resettlement efforts, the EU will strengthen its partnership and solidarity with third countries hosting large numbers of persons in need of international protection.

The Union Resettlement Framework Regulation will ensure:

  • The first ever collective legal framework for resettlement: The new framework will provide a common set of procedures for the selection and treatment of resettlement candidates and also ensure financial support from the EU budget.
  • Greater impact of the EU's joint resettlement efforts: The new framework will allow the EU as a whole to agree on targeted regions and countries from which resettlement should take place, placing the EU in a stronger position globally.
  • A flexible framework built on voluntary participation: Member States will continue to decide to whom and to how many people they will grant protection.
  • Predictable timelines and clear decision making: The Framework will be implemented through EU-wide plans, adopted by the Council on a proposal from the Commission, setting out a total number of persons to be admitted every 2 years.
  • Common eligibility grounds and stringent security checks: Access to the scheme will be reserved for persons in genuine need of international protection. Member States can give preference to persons with demonstrated social links or other characteristics that can facilitate integration. Obligatory refusal grounds will apply to persons posing security threats.

What will the reformed Return Directive change when it is adopted?

The Commission maintains its proposal for a reformed Return Directive and calls on the European Parliament and Council to swiftly conclude negotiations.

The reformed rules on return will help speed up return procedures, better prevent absconding and secondary movements and increase effective returns in full respect of fundamental rights.

The recast Return Directive will ensure:

  • Clear procedures and rules to prevent abuses: To avoid delays, return decisions will have to be issued immediately after or together with a decision ending the legal stay (such as a rejected asylum application). Fixed timelines of a maximum of 5 days will apply for appeals to return decisions in the case of rejected asylum claims. New obligations for migrants to cooperate will be introduced, including on identity verification and to obtain travel documents.
  • Efficient voluntary returns: To promote voluntary returns and enhance financial and practical support, Member States will have to set up voluntary return programmes. At the same time, Member States will be able to shorten the period granted for voluntary departure to prevent absconding.
  • Clear rules on detention: Common criteria for determining the risk of absconding, the possibility to detain individuals posing a threat to public order or national security and an initial general detention period of not less than 3 months will help ensure return decisions can be effectively carried out.
  • Strong fundamental rights safeguards: Existing EU safeguards for the fundamental rights of migrants will continue to apply, including respect for the principle of non-refoulement. This also applies to situations where individuals to be returned are placed in detention.

The 2018 recast Return Directive also proposed a new border procedure to ensure that return decisions can be quickly adopted and fully enforced at the border by channelling persons whose asylum applications have been rejected during border procedures into simplified and accelerated return procedures. This proposal will be integrated in the broader border procedure put forward under the New Pact in the amended proposal revising the Asylum Procedure Regulation.

What are the changes to the Eurodac database?  

The Commission presents an amended proposal on the Eurodac database, building on the provisional agreement reached by co-legislators, to better support the data needs of the new framework for EU asylum and migration management. The changes include counting individual applicants rather than applications. This will help apply new provisions on shifting responsibility within the EU, prevent unauthorised movements to other Member States, facilitate relocation, and ensure better monitoring of returnees. It will also track support for voluntary departure and reintegration. The new Eurodac would be fully interoperable with the border management databases, as part of an all-encompassing and integrated migration and border management system.

This comes in addition to the changes proposed in 2016 ensuring:

  • More effective returns: The new system will no longer be limited to asylum applicants but will also store data on non-EU nationals found irregularly staying in the EU. The data retention period for irregular migrants apprehended at the external borders will be extended beyond the current 18 months to 5 years. This will make it easier to identify and re-document these individuals for the purpose of return and readmission.
  • Better protection of child migrants: By registering minors from the age of 6, the new system will help improve the safety of child migrants, for example to detect cases of human trafficking and exploitation but also to establish family links should a child go missing.
  • Better tracking of unauthorised movements within the EU: With additional information available in the system, national authorities will have a more complete picture of each registered person when tracking unauthorised movements within the EU.

What changes are proposed to the Asylum Procedure Regulation and what will the Regulation achieve once adopted?

The Commission is proposing targeted amendments to its 2016 proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation. These amendments aim at introducing an end-to-end border procedure covering asylum and where relevant return, following a pre-entry screening. This will mean that asylum claims with low chances of being accepted can be examined rapidly without requiring entry to the Member State's territory, while the normal asylum procedure would apply in other cases, contributing to a more effective and humane management of asylum and migration and ensuring that no one is left in protracted uncertainty while their status is determined certainty. All necessary guarantees will be put in place to ensure that every person has an individual assessment that takes account of the vulnerabilities of certain applicants, in full respect of their fundamental rights, including the principle of non-refoulement.

This comes in addition to the changes proposed in 2016 which are under negotiations in the European Parliament and the Council. These changes aim to streamline the asylum procedure and make it more efficient, allowing for swifter procedures to identify those in need of protection and those who are not, and ensure common guarantees for asylum seekers - together with stricter rules to prevent abuse. They includes:

  • Simpler asylum procedure: The overall procedure will be streamlined. EU-wide time limits will be set to guarantee a complete and effective examination of asylum claims. Time limits will also be introduced for lodging appeals.
  • Common guarantees for asylum seekers: Asylum seekers with special needs and unaccompanied minors will see their safeguards reinforced.
  • Stricter rules to prevent abuse: Applicants will have clearer obligations to cooperate with the authorities and consequences if they do not cooperate will be stricter. Applications can be considered implicitly withdrawn when asylum applicants do not cooperate. Accelerated procedures will apply for example in cases where persons abuse the process or pose a security threat and also to persons coming from a safe country of origin.
  • Common rules on safe countries: The new rules will provide clear criteria for when a third country can be considered safe, in line with the Geneva Convention. The new rules may also provide common European lists for safe countries.

For More Information

Press release - A fresh start on migration: Building confidence and striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity

MEMO: New Pact on Migration and Asylum

Commission website - New Pact on Migration and Asylum

Statistics on migration to Europe

Legal documents - New Pact on Migration and Asylum

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