MEPs support reforms to speed up assessment of asylum requests in the EU
- Asylum requests registered in three days, admissibility assessed in one month
- Protection granted in six months (nine in exceptional circumstances)
- Right to a personal interview, free legal assistance and appeal
- • Turkey cannot be considered a safe country of origin
Requesting and granting asylum in the EU will be quicker and simpler, with stronger safeguards, particularly for children, under new rules approved in committee on Wednesday.
A proposed new Regulation on a common procedure for granting international protection in the EU, which lays down how national authorities are to manage asylum applications, was backed by the Civil Liberties MEPs.
The text, passed by 36 votes to 12 with 8 abstentions, aims to ensure asylum applications are processed more consistently across the EU, so as to discourage applicants from lodging multiple applications in different member states.
Refusal to cooperate: application rejected
Applicants should make their application in the member state of first entry, or in the one established in accordance with the revised Dublin Regulation. If they refuse to give their personal data (name, birth date, gender, nationality, ID card), provide biometric data or allow the authorities to examine their documents, their application will be rejected.
Asylum seekers must be duly informed, in clear language, about the procedure, their obligations and rights, including the right to free legal assistance and representation.
Inadmissible claims: first country of asylum and safe third country
Applications for international protection may be rejected as inadmissible if the applicant has already been recognised as a refugee in a non-EU country (first country of asylum) or has a “sufficient connection” - such as previous residence - with a safe country where he or she may “reasonably be expected to seek protection”.
Safe countries of origin: Turkey cannot be included in the list
A two-month accelerated examination procedure will be applied if the applicant provides inconsistent or false information, or is solely trying to delay an expulsion, and either comes from a safe country of origin, or is considered a danger for national security. Unaccompanied minors may only be subjected to the accelerated procedure for reasons of national security or public order.
The regulation includes an annex listing “safe countries of origin” (democracies not generally engaging in persecution, torture, indiscriminate violence or armed conflict): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. MEPs removed Turkey from the list, which in the future could be modified by the co-legislators based on the information provided by EU member states, the European External Action Service, the European Asylum Support Office, the UNHCR, the Council of Europe and other bodies, including NGOs.
Additional safeguards for children
Decisions on children must take priority, say MEPs. All unaccompanied minors should be assigned a guardian within 24 hours of making the application and always before biometric data are collected. Children, accompanied or not, should receive tailored information about their right to ask for asylum. The “first country of asylum” and “safe third country” concepts must not be applied to unaccompanied minors unless this is clearly in their best interests.
Lead MEP Laura Ferrara (EFDD, IT) said: “This Regulation represents a major step forward towards the creation of a true Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The current procedural differences will be overcome and the system further harmonised. Parliament did a good job in securing the right balance between ensuring the right procedural guarantees to genuine asylum seekers while - at the same time - preventing the abuses that contributed to the collapse of the current CEAS.”
The Civil Liberties Committee also approved a mandate (by 39 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions) for MEPs to open inter-institutional negotiations on the regulation with the Council. This mandate must still be endorsed by Parliament as a whole. Talks with the Council will begin once EU ministers have agreed their general approach to the legislation.
The proposed new common procedure for international protection in the Union regulation is part of a wider project to revamp the European Asylum System. Its centrepiece is a review of the Dublin Regulation, but it also includes an update of the Reception Conditions Directive, a new Regulation on Qualification for International Protection, the new EURODAC (identification of applicants) Regulation and the strengthening of the European Asylum Support Office.
Once Parliament endorses this proposal in plenary session, it will have stated its position on all the proposals in the asylum package. Negotiations with the Council have already begun on most of these texts, but MEPs are still waiting for the member states to agree a common position on the key reform of the Dublin Regulation.