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European Commission - Press release

Common European Asylum System: better protection and solidarity for people seeking international protection

The Commission pursues the completion of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012. The modified proposals on the Reception Conditions and the Asylum Procedures Directives will ensure faster, fairer and more efficient rules to the benefit of Member States and people seeking international protection. They take account of the lessons learnt from several years of negotiations in the Council of Ministers and in the European Parliament, as well as from consultations with refugee associations and the UNHCR. Negotiations must now move ahead on the remaining elements of the 'asylum legislative package'.

"The consolidation of a genuine common immigration and asylum policy is one of my top priorities. Today the level of treatment and guarantees for asylum seekers varies widely across the EU, and the chances of obtaining protection are radically different depending on which Member State examines the asylum request. This must change. We need efficient and fair asylum procedures and adequate and comparable reception conditions for asylum seekers throughout the EU. At the same time, the standards we agree at the European level should be simple, clear, and cost-efficient. The EU must stand up for its values and provide protection for those coming here to seek refuge from persecution and conflict - that is why we must respect our commitment to establish a Common European Asylum System by 2012. Today's proposals offer high level standards for people genuinely in need of protection, and will help to reduce unnecessary burdens on national authorities. They will also contribute to building more trust between the Member States", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Today's initiatives aim to achieve efficient and fair procedures and to ensure adequate and comparable reception conditions throughout the EU.

Changes made to the proposal on the Asylum Procedures Directive aim to simplify and clarify rules, in order to:

  • make implementation easier for Member States, in particular when dealing with a large number of simultaneous asylum claims. Rules have been revised as regards access to the asylum procedure, the conduct of personal interviews, and concerning the maximum duration of asylum procedures (a general time limit of six months for completing procedures at first instance remains a central objective of the proposal).

  • better address potential abuse. New rules provide that Member States may accelerate procedures and examine at the border claims that are clearly unconvincing or made by applicants who pose a danger to national security or public order.

  • increase the quality of decision-making at first instance, through more practical measures to help an applicant understand the procedure, or by providing appropriate training to the personnel examining and making decisions on applications.

  • guarantee access to protection. Clarifications concern the initial steps to be taken in the asylum procedure by border guards, police officers and other authorities who first come into contact with persons seeking protection.

  • deal with repeated applications. The modified proposal clarifies the rules regarding the possibility for asylum seekers to reapply if his/her circumstances have changed, and to prevent potential abuse of the system.

  • enhance coherence with other instruments of the EU asylum acquis, such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). A more concrete role for the EASO is foreseen in the provisions on training and access to the asylum procedure.

Modifications to the proposal on the Reception Conditions Directive provide more clarity and flexibility, in order to:

  • make implementation easier for Member States. More latitude in the implementation of measures will help to reduce financial costs and administrative burdens.

  • ensure clear rules which strictly delimit the possibility to detain asylum seekers. The revised proposal maintains high standards of treatment in relation to detention; restrictions on the right to free movement should only be applied under clear, common and exhaustive grounds and only when necessary and proportionate.

  • ensure dignified standards of living, through national measures for the identification of the special needs of vulnerable persons, such as minors and victims of torture, and providing an appropriate level of material support to asylum applicants.

  • enhance self-sufficiency of asylum seekers. The aim is to facilitate access to employment for asylum seekers while allowing flexibility to Member States during the period when applications are being examined at first instance, or if they are faced with large numbers of simultaneous asylum requests.


The Commission first made proposals to amend the Reception Conditions Directive in December 2008 (IP/08/1875) and the Asylum Procedures in October 2009 (IP/09/1552). Today's modified proposals take into account the progress made during the negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council, as well as during consultations with other actors (such as UNHCR and NGOs).

Next steps

The two proposals will now be presented at the 9th of June Justice and Home Affairs Council and further discussed under the Polish Presidency. To become law they will need the support of the European Parliament and of a qualified majority of Member States.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

Homepage of DG Home Affairs:

Contact :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)

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