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EU looks to reform asylum system

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EU looks to reform asylum system

Timmermans - Avramopoulos - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission proposed to reform Europe's asylum system Wednesday, promising a fairer and more sustainable system for allocating asylum applications among EU Member States.

While the basic principle remains the same – asylum seekers should, unless they have family elsewhere, apply for asylum in the first country they enter – a new 'fairness mechanism' would ensure that no Member State is left with a disproportionate pressure on its asylum system.

The proposals include transforming the existing European Asylum Support Office (EASO) into a fully-fledged European Union Agency for Asylum to reflect its enhanced role in the new system and reinforcing of the EU's fingerprinting database, Eurodac, in order to better manage the asylum system and to help tackle irregular migration.

The new proposal is meant to ensure fair sharing of responsibility within the EU, said Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans: "Managing migration better requires action on several fronts, to manage our external borders more effectively, cooperate better with third countries, put an end to smuggling and resettle refugees directly to the EU."

This reform, part of a first set of legislative proposals in the context of major reform of the Common European Asylum System, is intended is intended to form a medium term response to future migratory challenges. In the meantime, the Commission says existing Dublin rules and the two emergency relocation decisions continue to apply and will be enforced by the Commission to the full.

The Dublin System

The Dublin Regulation establishes which EU Member State is responsible for the examination of an asylum application. The rules aim to ensure quick access to asylum procedures and the examination of an application in substance by a single, clearly determined, Member State in order to ensure full observance of the right to asylum.

The core principle under the current system is that the responsibility for examining an asylum claim lies first and foremost with the Member State which played the greatest part in the applicant's entry to the EU. In most cases this means it is the Member State of first entry. It can also be a Member State which has issued a visa or residence permit to a third country national, who then decides to stay and apply for asylum when this authorisation expires. Family unity and protection of unaccompanied minors are criteria which lead to derogations from these rules.

Reform of the Dublin system

The proposal will make the Dublin System more transparent and enhance its effectiveness, while providing a mechanism to deal with situations of disproportionate pressure on Member States' asylum systems. The Commission says the new system is designed to be fairer but also more robust, and better able to withstand pressure. The new system will ensure quick determination of Member States' responsibility for examining an asylum application, protecting those in need, and discouraging secondary movements ('asylum shopping').

The new elements include:

  • A fairer system based on solidarity: with a corrective allocation mechanism (the fairness mechanism). The new system will automatically establish when a country is handling a disproportionate number of asylum applications. It will do this by reference to a country's size and wealth. If one country is receiving disproportionate numbers above and beyond that reference (over 150% of the reference number), all further new applicants in that country will (regardless of nationality) be relocated, after an admissibility verification of their application, across the EU until the number of applications is back below that level. A Member State will also have the option to temporarily not take part in the reallocation. In that case, it would have to make a solidarity contribution of EUR 250,000 for each applicant for whom it would otherwise have been responsible under the fairness mechanism, to the Member State that is reallocated the person instead;
  • A mechanism that also takes account of resettlement efforts: the fairness mechanism will also factor in the effort being made by a Member State to resettle those in need of international protection direct from a third country. This will acknowledge the importance of efforts to implement legal and safe pathways to Europe.
  • A more efficient system: with shorter time limits for sending transfer requests, receiving replies and carrying out transfers of asylum seekers between Member States, and removing shifts of responsibility;
  • Discouraging abuses and secondary movements: with clearer legal obligations for asylum applicants, including a duty to remain in the Member State responsible for their claim, geographic limits to the provision of material reception benefits and proportionate consequences in case of non-compliance;
  • Protecting asylum seekers' best interests: with stronger guarantees for unaccompanied minors and a balanced extension of the definition of family members;

The UK and Ireland are not required but instead determine themselves the extent to which they want to participate in these measures, in accordance with the relevant Protocols attached to the Treaties. If they do not opt in, the current rules as they operate today will continue to apply to them, in line with the Treaties.

Reinforcing the Eurodac system

To support the practical implementation of the reformed Dublin System, the Commission is also proposing to adapt and reinforce the Eurodac system and to expand its purpose, facilitating returns and helping tackle irregular migration. The proposal will extend the scope of the Eurodac Regulation to include the possibility for Member States to store and search data belonging to third-country nationals or stateless persons who are not applicants for international protection and found irregularly staying in the EU, so that they can be identified for return and readmission purposes. In full compliance with data protection rules, it will also allow Member States to store more personal data in Eurodac, such as names, dates of birth, nationalities, identity details or travel documents, and facial images of individuals. Increasing the information in the system will allow immigration and asylum authorities to easily identify an irregular third-country national or asylum applicant without having to request the information from another Member State separately, as is currently the case.

Establishing a European Union Agency for Asylum

The proposal will transform the existing European Asylum Support Office into a fully-fledged European Union Agency for Asylum with an enhanced mandate and considerably expanded tasks to address any structural weaknesses that arise in the application of the EU's asylum system.

One of the main new tasks of the Agency will be to operate the reference key in order to apply the fairness mechanism under the new Dublin system. The Agency will also be tasked with ensuring a greater convergence in the assessment of applications for international protection across the Union, strengthening the practical cooperation and information exchange between Member States and promoting Union law and operational standards regarding asylum procedures, reception conditions and protection needs.

Similarly to what was proposed by the Commission for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency on 15 December 2015, the role and functions of the Asylum Agency regarding operational and technical assistance will be expanded. This will include the possibility to deploy asylum support teams from a reserve of experts composed of a minimum of 500 experts from Member States and experts seconded by the Agency, as well as a capacity to provide operational and technical assistance in cases where a Member State is subject to disproportionate pressure which places exceptionally heavy and urgent demands on its asylum or reception systems.

Further information

Questions and Answers: Reforming the Common European Asylum System

FACTSHEET: The reform of the Dublin System

Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast)

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Posted by LYN WICK at 04 May 2016, 18:23 CET
Germany wanted migration,Germany got migration now Germany wants to put the migrants they invited in other countries .Time Germany stopped dictating to other countries and looked after its own. Solidarity is about respecting values ,asking others not using blackmail force .Why is Germany not using the force it likes to use with Turkey? Turkey cannot be trusted $6 billion aid to the blackmailer that will buy a lot of weapons to keep supplying ISIS in exchange for oil . EU is run by dictators and I cannot wait until UK leave .