In a statement issued on 21st December 2011, Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, following the preliminary ruling of the European Court of Justice on the transfer of asylum seekers under the EU Dublin Regulation, said:
"Today's ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) bears major significance for the development of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS): the Court clarifies the role of fundamental rights in the establishment of responsibility for examining an asylum application.
In its first preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the sovereignty clause of the Dublin Regulation, the Court confirms that a Member State is obliged to examine an asylum application if the transfer to the otherwise responsible Member State would expose the applicant to a serious risk of a violation of fundamental rights. This does not imply that a systematic doubt is cast on Member States' ability to respect the fundamental rights of asylum seekers. But, as the Commission has said many times in the past, Member States should not lose sight of the imperative to respect fundamental rights when implementing EU legislation.
Today's ruling once again proves that the EU needs a solid and efficient Common European Asylum System to support Member States and guarantee a fair and effective system of providing international protection to people in need.
I call on the Member States and the European Parliament to reach a compromise on the proposals presented by the Commission so that we can reach a decision on the completion of a Common European Asylum System by 2012, a deadline which all EU countries have committed to."
According to The Times, Malta received 1,632 asylum applications between January and June and was among the top three southern European countries affected by migration from Tunisia and Libya. Most of the applications were filed in April when Malta received 1,126 requests for asylum.
Writing in the same newspaper, Darrell Pace, communication coordinator at the Ministry for Justice, and Home Affairs, said that the living conditions inside Malta’s detention centres have improved significantly these past few years. He added that the Hermes block in Ħal Far was totally refurbished and remodelled in a year-long project that was largely financed by the European Union’s Emergency Fund. A new reception complex, again financed by the European Union, was also built in Ta’ Kandja. The average time frame for the processing of asylum applications at first instance now stands at approximately five to six months, he concluded.