(* FREE Group Member)
8 April 2013
Several years ago, the EU set itself the deadline of 2010 – later postponed to 2012 – for completing the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Near the end of March 2013, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council (the Member States’ interior ministers) finally agreed upon the texts of the two remaining legislative measures to this end.
No further EU measures on asylum (other than a revision of the current European Refugee Fund) are currently under discussion or planned for the time being. So the recently agreed rules will likely govern the issue of asylum in the EU for a number of years to come.
The objectives of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System were set out in the policy plan on asylum published by the Commission in 2008 (see the links below). This policy plan began by pointing out some key general trends.
In particular, a ‘critical flaw’ of the first phase of the Common European Asylum System was the wide difference in Member States’ recognition rates, ie the percentage of persons from the same country of origin whose claim for refugee status was accepted or not.
This divergence created ‘secondary movements’ (ie movements of asylum-seekers between Member States) and ‘goes against the principle of providing equal access to protection across the EU’.
Also, an increasing number of applicants were given ‘subsidiary protection’, ie a form of protection other than refugee status, and it was necessary to take account of this when developing the second phase legislation.
As for the content of the Common European Asylum System, the objective of creating the system was first agreed back in 1999, at the European Council (ie summit meeting) in Tampere, Finland. It was then agreed that there should be a ‘uniform status of asylum’ which would be ‘valid throughout the Union’.
Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, these objectives are now a legally binding part of the EU Treaties (Article 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The most recent multi-year Justice and Home Affairs programme, agreed in 2009 (the ‘Stockholm programme’) states that:
The European Council remains committed to the objective of establishing a common area of protection and solidarity based on a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for those granted international protection. While [the] CEAS should be based on high protection standards, due regard should also be given to fair and effective procedures capable of preventing abuse. It is crucial that individuals, regardless of the Member State in which their application for asylum is lodged, are offered an equivalent level of treatment as regards reception conditions, and the same level as regards procedural arrangements and status determination. The objective should be that similar cases should be treated alike and result in the same outcome.
There are still significant differences between national provisions and their application.
In order to achieve a higher degree of harmonisation, the establishment of CEAS, should remain a key policy objective for the Union. Common rules, as well as a better and more coherent application of them, should prevent or reduce secondary movements within the Union, and increase mutual trust between Member States.
With the recent agreement in principle on all of the remaining legislative proposals, it is time to assess whether the second phase of the Common European Asylum System will achieve the objective of ensuring common standards based on a high degree of protection.
There are five main measures making up the first phase of the Common European Asylum System, and all of them are being updated as part of the second phase of the system.
The state of play of these five measures is as follows: Continue reading “Analysis :The second phase of the Common European Asylum System: A brave new world – or lipstick on a pig? By Professor Steve Peers, (*) University of Essex”