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Asylum policy: Less talk, more solidarity

2 December 2011

The European Commission is proposing to reinforce solidarity between Member States in the field of asylum and to make sure protection is guaranteed for people in need of shelter. The events of the Arab spring, and the rising number of migrants arriving in Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, have put the issue of solidarity in the asylum field in stark focus during the past months. These events stressed even further the need for a Common European Asylum System and highlighted a lack of mutual trust between Member States.

Even though common rules are, to a large extent, already in place, asylum solidarity between EU member states is still far too weak. Some countries' asylum systems do not function well enough. Other countries simply accept far too few asylum seekers, for example, in the first half of this year, over 75% of all asylum applications were made in only 6 Member States (France, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Italy), meaning that many EU members could take a far greater share of the responsibility. In addition, unforeseen events can over-stretch the capacity of any Member State and the European Union has to be prepared to support these Member States, so that people who arrive are received in dignity.

"We have heard many a declaration about asylum solidarity, not least during the past year, but we have not seen as much action. The time for talk is over. The values of solidarity, tolerance and mutual respect now need to be turned into concrete results. That is why today we are proposing measures to help EU Member States live up to their responsibility of offering protection to people in need. To those Member States with ill-functioning asylum systems: It is time to get your house in order", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Read more: Press release and further background