Migration and Home Affairs

Asylum procedures

The Asylum Procedures Directive sets common procedures for EU Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection. It provides people fleeing persecution or serious harm and applying for international protection in the EU with a high level of safeguards and enables Member States to operate efficient asylum procedures. 

What is the Asylum Procedures Directive?

The Asylum Procedures Directive (recast) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council  in 2013 and was to be transposed into Member States' national legislations by July 2015. It reapealed Council Directive 2005/85/CE on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status.

Key features

The Directive creates a coherent system which ensures that decisions on applications for international protection are taken more efficiently and more fairly, by:

  • Setting clear rules for lodging applications, making sure that everyone who wishes to request international protection can do so quickly and effectively.
  • Setting a time-limit for the examination of applications (in principle six months at the administrative stage), while providing for the possibility to accelerate for applications that are likely to be unfounded;
  • Training decision makers and ensuring access to legal assistance;
  • Providing adequate support to those in need of special guarantees – for example because of their age, disability, illness – including by ensuring that they are granted sufficient time to participate effectively in the procedure;
  • Provides for clearer rules on appeals in front of courts or tribunals.

Towards a reform of the CEAS: the Asylum Procedures Regulation proposal

The Commission presented in July 2016 a Proposal for a new Asylum Procedure Regulation, intended to replace Directive 2013/32/EU, as part of a comprehensive package of Proposals for a CEAS reform. The Proposal aims at establishing a truly common procedure for international protection which is fair and efficient, while removing incentives for asylum shopping and secondary movements between Member States.

Establishing a truly common international protection procedure within the EU means:

  • Replacing current disparate procedural arrangements in Member States with a simpler and clearer procedure, with short but reasonable time-limits for an applicant to accede to the procedure and for concluding the examination of applications both at the administrative and appeal stages.
  • Procedural guarantees safeguarding the rights of applicants, including providing adequate and timely information, being heard in a personal interview, free legal assistance, interpretation and representation.
  • More attention to vulnerable individuals with special procedural needs such as unaccompanied minors.
  • Stricter rules to prevent abuse of the system, sanction manifestly abusive claims and remove incentives for secondary movements by setting out clear obligations for applicants to cooperate with the determining authorities throughout the procedure and by attaching strict consequences to non-compliance.
  • A compulsory list of grounds where an examination must be accelerated, including the application of safe third country and first country of asylum concepts.
  • Harmonized rules on safe countries. The Commission proposes to progressively move towards full harmonization in this area, and to replace national safe country lists with designations at Union level.

The Proposal of the Commission for an Asylum Procedure Regulation is currently being discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, together with the other Proposals presented as part of the CEAS reform package.