Migration and Home Affairs

Reception conditions

The Reception Conditions Directive

The Reception Conditions Directive aims at ensuring common standards of reception conditions throughout the EU.

The Directive:

  • ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, clothing, health care, education for minors and access to employment (within a maximum period of 9 months)
  • provides particular attention to vulnerable persons, especially unaccompanied minors and victims of torture. EU countries must conduct an individual assessment to identify the special reception needs of vulnerable persons and to ensure that vulnerable asylum seekers can access medical and psychological support.
  • includes rules regarding detention of asylum seekers and consider alternatives of detention in full respect of the fundamental rights.

The revised Reception Conditions Directive proposal

The current Reception Conditions Directive still leaves a margin of discretion to Member States to choose the most adequate way to provide material reception conditions  to ensure the protection of  human dignity in accordance with the Charter of fundamental rights. The migratory crisis has exposed the need to ensure greater consistency in reception conditions across the EU and the need to be better prepared to deal with large migration influxes. The Commission, therefore, presented in 2016 a proposal to revise the Reception Conditions Directive to further harmonise reception conditions throughout the EU and to reduce the incentives for secondary movements. The proposal also aims at increasing applicants' self-reliance and possible integration prospects by reducing the time-limit for access to the labour market.

The Commission supports a quick adoption of the text of the political compromise agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council in 2018.

EASO guidance on reception conditions: operational standards and indicators

In September 2016, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) released the EASO guidance on reception conditions: operational standards and indicators. The guidance describes specific common standards which are applicable to national reception systems across all EU Member States and the indicators with which such standards should be measured against. The standards included in the document reflect already existing practice in EU Member States.

The guidance was drafted by EASO together with a working group composed of EU Member States’ experts, as well as representatives of other relevant stakeholders in the field of reception and fundamental rights, including the European Commission, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while civil society's organizations were consulted prior to the adoption by the Management Board.

The overall objective of the guidance is to support Member States in the implementation of key provisions of the Reception Conditions Directive while ensuring an adequate standard of living for all applicants for international protection, including those with special reception needs.

The document has been designed to serve multiple purposes:

  • at policy level, it serves as a tool to support reform or development and serve as a framework for setting/further development of reception standards,
  • at operational level, it can be used by reception authorities/operators to support the planning/running of reception facilities or to support staff training.

In addition, the guidance could serve as a basis for the development of monitoring frameworks to assess the quality of national reception systems.

Finally, it should be noted that the European Commission’s proposal for a recast of the Reception Conditions Directive of 13 July 2016 specifically refers to these operational standards and indicators.

EASO guidance on reception conditions for unaccompanied children: operational standards and indicators

In March 2018, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) issued the EASO guidance on reception conditions for unaccompanied children, which focuses on reception authorities and is written with reception staff in mind. It is based on the fact that unaccompanied children in migration require specific and appropriate protection, where listed guidences follow the principle of the best interest of the child.  

EASO guidance on contingency planning in the context of reception

In December 2018, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) issued the EASO guidance on contingency planning in the context of reception with the goals to strengthen the reception authorities’ preparedness and ability to cope with situations that create organisational strain.

Related documents