PRESS RELEASE: A new European asylum policy has been adopted!
Last Wednesday (12 June 2012), the European Parliament adopted the so called Common European Asylum System (CEAS). This new legislative package enacts further harmonization and a fairer, more humane, approach to asylum policy in the EU. It consists of four major directives on asylum procedures, minimum reception conditions, transfer of asylum seekers and a specific European database for asylum seekers.
Specifically, harmonization of asylum procedures in the EU means that all asylum seekers in the EU are to be treated according to one specific Directive. This in turn will mean that asylum seekers are treated the same all over Europe, thus avoiding so-called “asylum-shopping”. Asylum seekers will no longer have sufficient incentives to travel to different EU Member States as the asylum procedure will be the same, and not more favourable than in another Member State.
There has been much debate on the minimum reception conditions for asylum seekers, especially in light of recent court cases. Certain Member States, such as Greece, had to cope with disproportionate amounts of asylum seekers, which in turn led to deteriorated reception conditions for the latter. Different reports and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned Greece (MSS case 2010). Reception conditions had to improve, and partly due to this package this has been, and will be done.
The so-called Dublin Regulation ensures in principle that asylum claims are assessed only in the EU Member State where the designated asylum seeker first entered. Experience has shown this to be problematic. Greece had to cope with a disproportionate amount of asylum claims which in turn caused the collapse of its asylum system – hence the revised Dublin Regulation. Henceforth asylum seekers will not be allowed to be transferred to Member States which lack the capacity to deal with them adequately. Notwithstanding, more needs to be done to ensure an equitable burden sharing of asylum seekers across the EU, in addition to guaranteeing their right to move freely within the Schengen area for work purposes.
Lastly, the CEAS has brought to life a European database for data on asylum seekers and illegal migrants in the EU. The so called Eurodac system collects data (fingerprints and others) which law enforcement authorities can access. Naturally there are safeguards in place to prevent abuse and to protect the data and privacy of those involved. This will help authorities to verify asylum seekers’ stories, to a certain extent. If, for instance, an asylum seeker claims to have been tortured in his country of origin on a specific date, but it turns out that through consultation of Eurodac, he was in fact at the time applying for asylum in another EU Member State, law enforcement authorities can act accordingly, preventing fraud and/or abuse of the system.
The new asylum policy, the CEAS, ensures a European approach to a European problem. The principle of solidarity is of paramount importance to a successful, fair and humane European asylum policy. Member States should receive as many asylum seekers as it is proportionate to their size and capacities, which is why Member States should help each other out if the present distribution is not equitable in reality. Situations such as those in Greece (in 2010) could thus be prevented. After all, asylum seekers are humans as well. They too have fundamental rights which the EU should respect! This is why the European Federalist Party welcomes this Common European Asylum System. However, the EFP does not believe this package to solve all problems and will try to address some remaining concerns in its party manifesto, soon to be released.
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