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‘Major milestone’ on asylum in the EU

Vice President Frattini welcomes ‘major milestone’ on asylum in the EU

With the adoption of the Asylum Procedures Directive at today’s Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels, the EU completed the first phase of the Common European Asylum System. This Directive, along with the other legislative instruments on asylum already adopted by the Council, guarantees a minimum level of protection and safeguards in all Member States for those genuinely in need of international protection while helping prevent fraudulent claims which undermine the credibility of asylum.

The Directive will ensure that throughout the EU, all procedures at first instance are subject to the same minimum standards while maintaining consistency with international obligations in this field. The Directive seeks to harmonise national measures to speed up the examination of asylum applications, helping Member States to focus on more deserving cases. Moreover, all negative decisions on asylum applications will now have the possibility of judicial scrutiny.

Vice President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, said: “We have reached a major milestone. The importance of the adoption of the Asylum Procedures Directive cannot be underestimated. This Directive will significantly contribute to a level playing field on asylum across all 25 Member States and promote mutual confidence in Member States asylum systems. Adoption also means that further approximation of legislation and practice can be agreed in co-decision with the European Parliament and under the rules of Qualified Majority Voting.”

The Vice President added: “This is one area where the EU really does add value. Asylum is an international challenge that can only be tackled through Member States acting together. In establishing a common system we are ensuring that the rights of asylum seekers are protected wherever they make their claim in Europe but that Member States are also well equipped to deal efficiently and fairly with those who do not qualify for protection”. However, the Vice President also underlined that there was still work to be done in the EU asylum field, “The agreement of these minimum standards measures represents an important first step. The evaluation of the implementation of these measures will be essential in deciding what the Commission proposes next. The new role of the European Parliament in the decision-making process should also help us to raise standards and enable the EU to show much more ambition in deciding on a fully fledged Common European Asylum System.”

The adoption of this last outstanding Directive of the first phase of the harmonisation of asylum in the EU will allow the Commission to start the necessary work to achieve the ambitious objective of a Common European Asylum System by 2010, as set out in the Hague Programme, comprising a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for persons in need of international protection

Other measures in the Common European Asylum System.

On 11 December 2000, the Council adopted a Regulation (2725/2000) concerning the establishment of ‘Eurodac’ for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention on the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the European Union Member States.

On 20 July 2001, the Council adopted a Directive (2001/55/EC) on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof;

On 27 January 2003, the Council adopted a Directive (2003/4/EC) on minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in Member States.

On 18 February 2003 the Council adopted a Regulation (343/2003) establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national.

On 29 April 2004 the Council adopted a Directive (2004/83/EC) on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of protection granted.

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