Minimum guarantees for asylum procedures
To establish minimum guarantees for asylum procedures in Member States in compliance with the principles of the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 New York Protocol.
Council Resolution of 20 June 1995 on minimum guarantees for asylum procedures [Official Journal C 274, 19.09.1996].
Following the entry into force of the 1990 Dublin Convention, the Member States wished to establish equivalent procedures for examining applications for asylum. To that end, minimum guarantees for procedures, to be complied with by all Member States, have been drawn up. Member States may enact more favourable national provisions.
The procedures for examining asylum applications must comply with the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Protocol, in particular as regards the definition of "refugee" and the principle of "non-refoulement" (no expulsion measure will be carried out as long as no decision has been taken on the asylum application), and must be carried out in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Guarantees concerning the examination of asylum applications
All applications are examined individually, objectively and impartially. Applicants must present a substantial description of their case and all available evidence, although recognition of refugee status is not dependent on the production of any particular evidence.
The authorities responsible for the examination of the asylum application must be provided with a sufficient number of specialised personnel, precise information on the situation prevailing in the countries of origin and transit countries, and access to experts on particular issues (medical, cultural, etc.).
The authorities responsible for border controls and local authorities must receive clear instructions so that applications can be forwarded without delay to the competent authority.
If the asylum application is rejected, it is possible to appeal to a court or an independent review authority.
Rights of asylum-seekers during examination, appeal and review procedures
Asylum-seekers may remain in the territory of the State in which the application has been lodged until a decision has been taken. During the procedure, they are entitled to the services of an interpreter or, if necessary, a legal adviser or other counsellor and may communicate with the Office of the UNHCR or other refugee organisations. Before a final decision is taken on the application, they are given the opportunity of a personal interview with a qualified official.
Manifestly unfounded applications are dealt with in accordance with the principles laid down in the Resolution of 30 November 1992. Applications from nationals of another Member State are covered by that Resolution since any Member State is regarded a priori as a reliable country. A particularly rapid procedure will be applied in such cases.
Any asylum-seeker must be able to lodge an application at a frontier. The application may then be examined to establish, prior to the decision on admission, whether it is manifestly unfounded. However, where there is a host third country, there may be exceptions to the principle of "non-refoulement".
Additional safeguards for unaccompanied minors and women
Unaccompanied minors must be represented by an appointed adult or institution that assists them during the procedure.
Member States must endeavour to involve female employees and interpreters where necessary, particularly where female asylum-seekers find it difficult to present the grounds for their application owing to the experiences they have undergone or to their cultural origin.
Right of residence
Applicants who satisfy the criteria for refugee status must in principle be granted the right of residence in the Member State which examined the asylum application.
Member States were to strive to bring their national legislation into line with these principles by 1 January 1996.
4) FOLLOW-UP WORK
On 20 September 2000, the Commission presented a proposal for a Council Directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status [COM(2000) 578 final - 2000/0238 CNS].
Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament. Towards a common asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the Union, for persons granted asylum [COM(2000)755 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
On 22 November 2000, the Commission presented a Communication emphasising that harmonisation of asylum procedures could have immediate positive effects. The first would be to limit secondary movements of asylum seekers influenced by the diversity of rules and the rights granted following recognition of the right to asylum. An asylum seeker must be reasonably certain that, whichever Member State they approach, they will enjoy equivalent chances of obtaining proper protection.
The second would be to maintain the specific nature of the right to asylum vis-à-vis other forms of humanitarian protection. In addition, the Commission would like common rules on the exchange of information to be defined and to create a network between the authorities involved in order to facilitate the analysis of statistics, cooperation between the various authorities and the exchange of good practices.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament on the common asylum policy, introducing an open coordination method. First report by the Commission on the application of Communication COM(2000)755 final of 22 November 2000 [COM(2001)710 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
In its Communication of 22 November 2000, the Commission set out its point of view on establishing a common asylum procedure, identifying objectives and proposing a method. The Communication of 28 November 2001 contains a more precise definition of the methods which might be applied to asylum policy. There will be consultations on these suggestions prior to a formal Commission proposal.
The report on a common asylum policy in the European Union will be submitted annually and will serve the interests of transparency and stimulate public debate. This year's report is broken down into six headings:
- implementation of the legislative programme of the first stage and flanking measures (which makes reference to the legislation already in force and to proposals submitted, including Eurodac, proposal for a " Dublin II " regulation, the ARGO programme etc.);
- link between international protection obligations and security (exclusion from refugee status, surrender, non-refoulement);
- common analysis (exchange of statistics and information on asylum and migrant flows);
- the external dimension (enlargement, relations with the Balkans, the Russian Federation, relations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees);
- applying the open coordination method to asylum policy (in practice, the Commission invites the Council to approve multiannual guidelines together with a timetable for achieving the objectives in the short, medium and long term. The Member States must then incorporate these guidelines into national legislation);