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European Law Monitor newsDesigning the future Common European Asylum System

  On 7 June 2007, the Commission announced a comprehensive package on asylum. This includes a Green Paper to launch a debate the future of the Common European Asylum System, a proposal for a Directive which extends the possibility of obtaining Long-Term Residence status to beneficiaries of international protection and an evaluation report on the Dublin system.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, said: "181,770 people sought asylum in EU territory in 2006. We need a fair and effective system to deal with these people. The Common European Asylum System must offer more protection to those who genuinely need it, and at the same time prevent "asylum shopping" by showing solidarity and offering the same protection across the EU. We must promote the integration of third-country nationals who have found protection in the EU and approximate their legal status to that of Member States' nationals. Evaluation shows good results so far. We are now ready to launch the next step, working with stakeholders to design the future system".

Higher protection and greater solidarity - The Common European Asylum System (CEAS), as defined in the Tampere and the Hague Programmes, has two phases. The first phase - the harmonisation of Member States' legal frameworks based on common minimum standards - is now complete. The evaluation of these instruments is currently underway and starts with the evaluation report on the Dublin system. The Hague Programme states that the second phase should be adopted by the end of 2010. Before presenting new proposals, the Commission is launching, with the Green Paper, a broad debate on the future architecture of the Common European Asylum System.

The second phase envisages further approximation of national asylum procedures, legal standards and reception conditions. This will promote EU solidarity and reduce the phenomenon of 'asylum shopping' where applicants move around the EU mainly because of the diversity in Member States' applicable rules. From September 2003 • December 2005 EURODAC detected that around 12% of asylum applications were lodged by people who had already applied for asylum somewhere else.

Keywords of the whole process are equal treatment and solidarity. Solidarity that all Member states will build among themselves also via common practical cooperation and other implementing measures. These could include operational assistance through joint asylum experts teams or agreed common standards in dealing with vulnerable asylum seekers such as women children or victims of torture.

The Commission will issue a Policy Plan in the first quarter of 2008, based on the consultation results, to set out the way ahead and the timeframe for the CEAS.

A fair and efficient system - The Dublin system, one of the "building blocks" of the first phase of the Common European Asylum System, determines the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application in a Member State, Norway or Iceland. The objectives of Dublin have, to a large extent, been achieved; however some adjustments to the system are necessary to improve its application in line with other European and international obligations, as well as to enhance its efficiency. Between September 2003 and December 2005, around 17,000 third-country nationals were transferred from one Member State to another to have their asylum claim examined.

Facilitating integration • The Commission proposes to end the existing discrimination amongst all long term residents and to facilitate their full integration. The existing Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 (Long Term Residence Directive) regulates conditions under which third-country nationals settled on a long-term basis in the Member States may acquire long-term residence status, but it currently does not include beneficiaries of international protection (i.e. refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).

Once third-country nationals become long-term residents, they enjoy reinforced protection against expulsion, they are guaranteed equal treatment with nationals of the EU in a wide range of economic and social matters and they have the right to reside in another Member State for employment, study or other purposes on the conditions set out in the directive. However, this proposal does not include a mechanism for transfer of responsibility for protection under community law

To facilitate integration of third-county nationals who have found protection in the EU, the Commission proposes to amend the long-term residence Directive to extend to them the possibility of obtaining long-term residence status. Hence all foreigners residing in the EU for long time and fulfilling certain conditions can be treated equally.

Reproduced with the permission of the European Commission REF IP/07/768