Ministers and stakeholders from all over Europe are gathered in Brussels today to discuss the future for EU cooperation in the area of asylum. Negotiations have been on hold for months, since Member States have difficulties agreeing on common standards and procedures. In her speech at the conference, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, expressed her concerns over the trends in Europe of sometimes speaking more of how to stop people from coming to the EU than to improve and harmonise the asylum procedures. "We find ourselves at a crucial moment in the establishment of the Common Asylum System. The decisions that we will take in the coming months will have an important impact on the hundreds of thousands of persons who apply for asylum in the EU, and on the many more, who already reside here as beneficiaries of international protection", said Cecilia Malmström in her speech.
The conference is named Quality and Efficiency in the Asylum Process, and Member States, EU institutions, the UN, as well as civil society are present. The scope is to swiftly move forward in the discussions in order to reach the goal of finalising a Common European Asylum System by 2012, as outlined in the Stockholm Programme.
"We have managed to take some steps forward", says Cecilia Malmström. "The commitment I have seen here today shows that we all recognise the problem of having diverging asylum procedures. It is not acceptable that asylum seekers in the EU will be received in one way in one Member State, but completely differently in another. Europe needs to step up its efforts and make sure that we get an efficient asylum system, where we treat those coming here with decency, dignity and in full respect of human rights."