Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Asylum-procedures Refugees

A young girl crouching next to the tents of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Sumy Sadurni

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

Asylum-seekers will get access to the EU labour market more quickly, under an informal deal between EP and EU Ministers, which also foresees strengthened protection for minors.

The main aim of the revised Reception Conditions Directive is to ensure equivalent reception standards in all EU countries, with the aim of reducing “secondary movements” within the EU and, subsequently, guaranteeing a fairer distribution of applicants among countries.

Measures to improve integration prospects

In order to improve their chances of being independent and able to integrate, asylum-seekers will be allowed to work starting from 6 months after the registration of their application, instead of the current 9 months. They should get access to language courses from day one.

Those applying for international protection will also be entitled to primary and secondary health care, including mental as well as sexual and reproductive health care. In addition, children should enter the school system no later than 2 months after arrival.

Protection of minors

Member states must ensure that every unaccompanied minor gets a guardian from the moment they arrive in the EU.

Detention of minors will only be possible to maintain family unity or to protect them, in case there is a risk, for example, that they might go missing. However, children can never be confined in prisons, but only in specially designed facilities.

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Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP (ALDE, NL), rapporteur, said: “People are fleeing from violence and conflict across the world. Simply closing our eyes and covering our ears will not make this reality disappear. We can handle these refugee flows only if we act together. With today’s breakthrough deal, we are one step closer to an effective and humane European asylum policy. We have demonstrated that the EU is able to reach agreement on issues as sensitive and complex as asylum and migration policies.”

Deal on conditions to grant international protection and the rights of beneficiaries

Parliament and Council negotiators also reached a provisional deal on Thursday on a new Qualification Regulation, which establishes EU-wide rules on granting international protection and the rights for the beneficiaries.

Under the law, which will be directly applicable, recognised refugees should get a 3-year minimum renewable residence permit, while beneficiaries of subsidiary protection should have the right to a 1-year permit, renewable for at least 2 years. No later than 15 days after being granted protection, they should get at least a provisional document proving their rights.

Member states will still be able to grant longer permits to both categories (refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection), if they so wish. If there is no longer a need for protection, authorities can withdraw it. They can also do so if the beneficiary is involved in terrorism or other serious crimes.

MEPs managed, during the talks, to get rid of the compulsory review of the refugee status if there is a “significant change in the country of origin” -such as the end of an armed conflict- and left it as an option for national authorities.

Family unity

The definition of family members, key for family unity purposes, will include dependent adult children and families formed before arrival in the EU, and not just those coming from the country of origin. Unmarried couples will be treated equally to married ones in those member states where the national legislation so provides. As regards to siblings, member states may choose to include them in the definition.

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Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL), Parliament’s rapporteur, said: “With this agreement, the rules for obtaining international protection become clearer and more coherent across the EU, significantly improving the existing directive. By securing high standards for the beneficiaries, we provide them with a real opportunity to integrate, while also preventing an increased financial and administrative burden for the Member States. This is a victory for the future of the Common European Asylum System”.

Next steps

The recast Reception Conditions Directive and the new Qualification Regulation are part of a comprehensive reform of the Common European Asylum System, whose centerpiece is the Dublin Regulation, which determines the member state responsible for dealing with an asylum application.

Today’s informal deals will only be put to a vote in the Civil Liberties Committee, and subsequently in plenary, once there is confirmed progress towards an agreement on the Dublin Regulation. Member states should reach a common position on this key piece of legislation during the EU leaders’ summit on 28-29 June, to allow for negotiations with the Parliament to begin as soon as possible.

The updated Procedures Regulation, a new EU Framework for resettlement, the reinforcement of the Eurodac system and the establishment of a truly EU Asylum Agency are the other files in the asylum package on which the co-legislators aim to reach an agreement before the end of legislature.

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