Migration and Home Affairs

Reception conditions

Asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their application must be provided with certain necessities that guarantee them a dignified standard of living.

What is the Reception Conditions Directive?

The Reception Conditions Directive establishes common standards of conditions of living of asylum applicants. (The previous version of the Directive is still valid until 21 July 2015 when the new one becomes applicable). It ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, health care and employment, as well as medical and psychological care.

In the past, diverging practices among Member States could however lead to an inadequate level of material reception conditions for asylum seekers.

Key achievements

The new Reception Conditions Directive aims to ensure better as well as more harmonised standards of reception conditions throughout the Union.

  • For the first time, detailed common rules have been adopted on the issue of detention of asylum seekers, ensuring that their fundamental rights are fully respected. In particular, it:
    • Includes an exhaustive list of detention grounds that will help to avoid arbitrary detention practices and limits detention to as short a period of time as possible;
    • Restricts the detention of vulnerable persons in particular minors;
    • Includes important legal guarantees such as access to free legal assistance and information in writing when lodging an appeal against a detention order;
    • Introduces specific reception conditions for detention facilities, such as access to fresh air and communication with lawyers, NGOs and family members.
  • The new Directive also clarifies the obligation to conduct an individual assessment in order to identify the special reception needs of vulnerable persons. It provides particular attention to unaccompanied minors and victims of torture and ensures that vulnerable asylum seekers can also access psychological support. Finally, it includes rules on the qualifications of the representatives for unaccompanied minors.

Access to employment for an asylum seeker must now be granted within a maximum period of 9 months.