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EU puts common asylum system in place

12 June 2013

Plenary of the European Parliament. Photo: EP

The Common European Asylum System was endorsed by the European Parliament on Wednesday, giving the green light for the system to be implemented in all EU Member States. The aim of the common system is to ensure fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers in Europe, wherever they arrive.
"Getting the Common European Asylum System in place is an historic achievement... We have travelled a tough road to get here", EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a comment.

The EU has been aiming for a common asylum system since 1999. Negotiations have been drawn-out and at a standstill at times. In 2010, Cecilia Malmström presented the legislative proposals that have formed the basis of negotiations since then.

"The Common European Asylum System has been my top priority since the beginning of my mandate... The CEAS will provide better access to the asylum procedure for those who seek protection; will lead to fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions; will ensure that people in fear of persecution will not be returned to danger; and will provide dignified and decent conditions both for those who apply for asylum and those who are granted international protection within the EU," Malmström said.

Some 330,000 asylum applicants were registered in EU countries last year. New rules include common deadlines for handling asylum applications (a standard six-month deadline with limited exceptions), stricter rules on training staff dealing with asylum seekers, as well as new provisions for the special needs of unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons.

Now, the new legislation must be implemented in all EU countries.

"Our achievement is not yet fully complete. We now need to put in a great effort to implement our legislation and ensure this common system will function well and uniformly. Only then we will have an area of protection and solidarity deserving its name - an achievement that we can be proud of," said Commissioner Malmström.

Under the new rules, asylum seekers will not be transferred to EU countries where there is a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment. Furthermore, a shortlist is included of the exceptional conditions that must be fulfilled in order to temporarily detain an asylum seeker. Rules in this field have so far been unclear and very general in nature.

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Read Malmström's full statement about the vote, as well as a blog post. A detailed description of the changes in the new system is available here.