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Brussels, 3 December 2007
The Asylum Procedures Directive (Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005, on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status) is one of the four building blocks of the first stage of the Common European Asylum System. The other main asylum instruments are Regulation (EC) 343/2003 ("Dublin Regulation"), Directive 2003/9/EC ("Reception Conditions Directive,") and Directive 2004/83/EC ("Qualification Directive"). These legislative instruments guarantee a minimum level of protection and procedural safeguards in all Member States for those who are genuinely in need of international protection, whilst preventing abuses of asylum applications which undermine the credibility of the system and place additional administrative and financial burden on member States. These four instruments aim at a common objective – to level the asylum playing field and lay the foundations for a Common European Asylum System in line with the objectives set at the Tampere European Council.
The Asylum Procedures Directive aims to ensure that throughout the EU, all asylum procedures at first instance are subject to the same minimum standards. Subject to some exceptions, the Directive guarantees the opportunity of a personal interview for asylum applicants as well as the basic principles and guarantees for the examination of claims. These guarantees inter alia include comprehensive information about the procedure at the start of the process, a motivated decision on the asylum claim, access to legal assistance and interpretation services, and the Member States' duty to meet special needs of unaccompanied children.
The Directive provides that all asylum decisions in the systems of 26 participating Member States shall be subject to judicial scrutiny. It also enhances the capacity of Member States’ asylum authorities to decide quickly on the applications of persons who legitimately seek refugee protection in the EU.
At the same time, the Directive is flexible enough to allow Member States to tackle fraud and misuse of their systems. It also leaves sufficient space for Member States to preserve the particularities of their national asylum procedures like the possibility to apply border/airport procedures or limitations to the principle of suspensive effect of the appeals. The Directive also provides for the notions of the safe third countries, safe countries of origin and European safe third countries.
The Asylum Procedures Directives is based on Article 63(1) (c) and (d) of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The Directive is binding for all Member States except for Denmark (according to a protocol attached to the Treaty Denmark is not bound by the measures taken under title IV of the Treaty).
The Directive reflects the conclusions of the European Council in Tampere of 15-16 October 1999, which called for the establishment of a Common European Asylum System which should include, in the short term, a clear and workable determination of the State responsible for the examination of an asylum application, common standards for a fair and efficient asylum procedure, common minimum conditions of reception of asylum seekers, and the approximation of rules on the recognition and content of the refugee status. It should also be completed with measures on subsidiary forms of protection offering an appropriate status to any person in need of such protection.
On 11 December 2000, the Council adopted a Regulation (2725/2000/EC) 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 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 on minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in Member States.
On 18 February 2003, the Council adopted a Regulation 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 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 the protection granted.
On 1 December 2005, the Council adopted a directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status.
Therefore, the Directive is the last in a series of the first generation EU asylum instruments, which form the foundations of the future Common European Asylum System.
The adoption of the Directive also meant that future legislative instruments in the field of asylum will be adopted by Qualified Majority voting in Council and codecision procedures with the European Parliament.
With regard to those Member States who have not notified complete implementing measures until the date of the expiry of the deadline for transposition, the Commission is entitled to take appropriate procedural steps, according to the power conferred to it by Article 226 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
Having in mind the objective to establish a level playing field and 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 Commission adopted on 6 June 2007 a Green Paper on the future Common European Asylum System (CEAS). In this Green Paper the Commission outlined the main policy issues at stake and invited constructive suggestions from all stakeholders to take these issues forward.
After a public hearing which took place on 7 November 2007, the Commission
will now synthesize the results of this broad consultation with the results of
an evaluation of the implementation of the existing Directives, in order to
present in mid-2008 a Policy Plan describing the work that will have to be
carried out in the very near future for the construction of the CEAS by 2010.