Asylum Package : Talks Gridlocked over Reception Conditions

European Social Policy, July 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Asylum Package : Talks Gridlocked over Reception Conditions


Like others before it, the Danish EU Presidency has run into trouble on the asylum package, at least on part of this set of draft directives, some of which date from 2008, that would strengthen the rights of asylum seekers in a harmonised manner in Europe. The Cyprus Presidency will thus take over the issue, the goal still being to adopt the package by the end of 2012.

The European Parliament's rapporteurs had hoped to announce an agreement on a proposal modifying the conditions for reception of asylum applicants in the EU, on the morning of 28 June, but that did not happen. The day before, the three negotiators - Copenhagen, the EP rapporteurs and the Commission - stumbled on two points in the text: 1. the Commission's proposal, approved by the EP, to impose on member states the automatic review by a court - after 72 hours - of a decision by an administrative court to detain an asylum applicant. The EP made concessions by agreeing to such review "as soon as possible," but always automatically. The Council refused, arguing that certain countries would have legal problems; 2. EP and Commission want states to organise a medical and psychological exam, like what exists in the Netherlands, to identify vulnerable individuals (pregnant women, people who are ill), but whose vulnerability is not necessarily visible. The Council agrees on the need to identify them, but does not wish to guarantee such exams for everyone or at the start of the procedure.

"Parliament and the Commission would like to see asylum budgets double and more public servants hired," said an annoyed diplomatic source. "The EU is in the process of adopting higher standards when some countries don't even comply with existing rules," added the source. Greece, whose reform of asylum and immigration systems is under evaluation by the Commission, is singled out for failure to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. Since the January 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, Dublin' transfers to Greece have been suspended, although EU legislation permits such returns of applicants to the European country of entry.

POINTS OF AGREEMENT

EP, Council and Commission are thought to agree on the rest of the directive, under discussion since 2008, particularly on five conditions and reasons that can justify the detention of an asylum seeker:

- to determine identity and nationality

- in the initial review, to check whether the person's story is true

- the time needed to decide whether the person has the right to enter the territory

- for reasons of law and order (eg to check whether the person is not suspected of terrorism elsewhere)

- when the states have objective reason to believe that the person is applying for asylum to avoid being sent back to his home country.

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