Common safeguards must be ensured for people fleeing persecution and seeking international protection – asylum seekers must have access to fair and efficient asylum procedures.
What is the Asylum Procedures Directive?
The Asylum Procedures Directive establishes common standards of safeguards and guarantees to access a fair and efficient asylum procedure. (The previous version of the Directive is still valid until 21 July 2015 when the new one becomes applicable).
The previous Directive was the lowest common denominator between Member States at the time. The rules were often too vague and derogations allowed Member States to keep their own rules, even if these went below basic agreed standards.
The new Asylum Procedures Directive is much more precise. It creates a coherent system, which ensures that asylum decisions are made more efficiently and more fairly and that all Member States examine applications with a common high quality standard.
- It sets clearer rules on how to apply for asylum: there have to be specific arrangements, for example at borders, to make sure that everyone who wishes to request asylum can do so quickly and effectively.
- Procedures will be both faster and more efficient. Normally, an asylum procedure will not be longer than six months. There will be better training for decision-makers and more early help for the applicant, so that the claim can be fully examined quickly. These investments will save money overall, because asylum seekers will spend less time in state-sponsored reception systems and there will be fewer wrong decisions, so fewer costly appeals.
- Anyone in need of special help - for example because of their age, disability, illness, sexual orientation, or traumatic experiences - will receive adequate support, including sufficient time, to explain their claim. Unaccompanied children will be appointed a qualified representative by the national authorities.
- Cases that are unlikely to be well-founded can be dealt with in special procedures ('accelerated' and 'border' procedures). There are clear rules on when these procedures can be applied, to avoid well-founded cases being covered. Unaccompanied children seeking asylum and victims of torture benefit from special treatment in this respect.
- Rules on appeals in front of courts are much clearer than previously. Currently, EU law is vague and national systems do not always guarantee enough access to courts. As a result, many cases end up in with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which is costly and creates legal uncertainty. The new rules fully comply with fundamental rights and should reduce pressure on the Strasbourg court.
- Member States will also become better equipped to deal with abusive claims, in particular with repetitive applications by the same person. Someone who does not need protection will no longer be able to prevent removal indefinitely by continuously making new asylum applications.