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MEMO/07/229

Brussels, 6 June 2007

Green Paper on the future Common European Asylum System

The Common European Asylum System (CEAS), as defined in the Tampere and the Hague Programme, was intended to be built in two phases. The first one, comprising four main legal instruments, is now complete. According to the Hague Programme, the second phase instruments should be adopted by the end of 2010. Before coming forward with the new proposals, the Commission is launching, with the present Green Paper, a wide debate on the future architecture of the Common European Asylum System, inviting all relevant stakeholders to express their views and make constructive suggestions on the form the CEAS should take.

The four building blocks of the first stage of the Common European Asylum System are now in place: Regulation (EC) 343/2003 ("Dublin Regulation"), Directive 2003/9/EC ("Reception Conditions Directive,") Directive 2004/83/EC ("Qualification Directive") and Directive 85/2005/EC ("Asylum Procedures Directive"). These legislative instruments aim at establishing a level playing field: a system which guarantees to persons genuinely in need of protection access to a high level of protection under equivalent conditions in all Member States while at the same time dealing fairly and efficiently with those found not to be in need of protection.

The ultimate objective of the Common European Asylum System, as envisaged by the Hague Programme, consists in the establishment of a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for persons in need of international protection valid throughout the EU. For this objective to materialize, the Hague Programme invited the Commission to submit the second phase instruments to the Council and European Parliament with a view to their adoption before the end of 2010.

The Green Paper presents comprehensively a broad range of issues that will have to be addressed in the second phase. In particular, it identifies four main areas where further action is necessary and these areas form its four main chapters, i.e Legislative instruments; Implementation- Accompanying measures; Solidarity and burden-sharing and the External dimension of asylum.

The goal pursued in the first stage was to harmonize the Member States' legal frameworks on the basis of common minimum standards. The goals in the second stage should be to achieve both a higher common standard of protection and greater equality in protection across the EU and to ensure a higher degree of solidarity between EU Member States.

Achieving these objectives will mean filling existing gaps in the current asylum acquis and pursuing legislative harmonisation based on high standards. This could imply further approximating national rules regarding aspects such as border procedures, appeals procedures or rights and benefits attached to the protection status granted.. Significant progress towards the establishment of a common asylum procedure may furthermore be achieved by including as a mandatory element in the CEAS a single procedure for assessing applications for refugee status and for subsidiary protection.

To complement the harmonization of legislation it is also necessary to harmonize asylum practices with a view to improving the quality of decision-making; this can be achieved by further approximating national practices and jurisprudences, for instance through the development of common guidelines on the interpretation and application of different procedural and substantial facets of the EU asylum acquis, like gender- or child-specific persecution or detection and prevention of fraud or abuse. It is also necessary to ensure adequate structural support for all rapidly expanding practical cooperation activities. One option to be explored could be the transformation of the structures involved in practical cooperation into a European support office, as envisaged by the Hague Programme,. Such an office could for instance incorporate a training facility and provide structural support for any processing activities that Member States may undertake jointly in the future and support Member States' joint efforts to address particular pressures on their asylum systems and reception capacities resulting from factors such as geographical location.

Furthermore, there is a pressing need for increased solidarity in the area of asylum, so as to ensure that responsibility for processing asylum applications and granting protection in the EU is shared equitably.

Finally, ways also need to be explored for increasing the EU's contribution to a more accessible, equitable and effective international protection regime.

All EU institutions, national, regional and local authorities, candidate countries, third country partners, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, all state actors and private service providers involved in the asylum process, academia, social partners, civil society organisations and individuals are invited to contribute to this consultation.

The results of this comprehensive consultation will inform the preparation of a policy plan to be issued in the first quarter of 2008 in which the Commission will set out all the measures that it will adopt to construct the CEAS, along with a timeframe for the adoption of those measures.

In order to prepare for a public hearing on 18 October 2007, the Commission invites all interested parties to send their responses to this consultation in writing no later than 31 August 2007 to:
Immigration and Asylum Unit – "Green Paper on Asylum"
Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security
European Commission
B-1049 Brussels
e-mail : JLS-asile-livre-vert@ec.europa.eu

To find out more about Vice President Frattini's work please see his website http://www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/index_en.htm


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