In light of the influx of migrants in recent years, Parliament’s civil liberties committee has voted in favour of new plans to speed up the assessment of asylum requests in the EU.
Europe’s migration crisis has exposed shortcomings in the EU’s asylum system. Under new proposals approved by Parliament’s civil liberties committee on 25 April, a common procedure would be established for granting international protection in the EU.
Once a negotiating mandate has been approved by Parliament as a whole, MEPs will enter into negotiations with the Council on the rules, which aim to prevent so-called asylum shopping and ensure that asylum applications are processed more consistently across the EU.
Speaking ahead of the committee vote, Laura Ferrara, the lead MEP on the asylum procedures reform, said the migration crisis of recent years had pushed the EU’s asylum system to its limits: “It was important to have a concise, efficient procedure, one that did not overload the member states with bureaucracy. We see a clear length of time: six months for the acceptance or rejection of international protection.”
The Italian EFDD member also noted that applicants will have the right to free legal assistance: “We wanted to guarantee the rights of refugees, in terms of information, in terms of procedural guarantee.”
People would need to apply for asylum in the first EU country they arrive, or in the one established in accordance with the revised Dublin regulation. The new rules would also include stronger safeguards for children, as well as a list of safe countries of origin. These are countries considered to have a democratic system where there is generally no persecution or threat of violence or torture. The civil liberties committee has said that Turkey cannot be considered a safe country of origin.
Read more: Improving the common European asylum system
The proposals are part of a wider project to revamp Europe’s asylum system. At its heart is a review of the Dublin regulation, which determines which EU country is responsible for processing each asylum claim. Parliament has also backed proposals to strengthen the European Asylum Support Office.
In 2017, the EU plus Norway and Switzerland recorded 706,913 asylum applications. MEPs are still waiting for the national governments of EU countries to agree a common position on the key reform of the Dublin regulation.
Watch the video interview with Laura Ferrara to learn more.