Migration and Home Affairs

Who qualifies for international protection

Before a person can receive asylum, he/she must be recognised as a refugee or as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection.

What is the Qualification Directive?

The current Qualification Directive of 2011 amends Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted.

The Qualification Directive sets out criteria for applicants to qualify for refugee status or subsidiary protection and defines the rights afforded to beneficiaries of these statuses, hence  provisions on protection from refoulement, residence permits, travel documents, access to employment, access to education, social welfare, healthcare, access to accommodation, access to integration facilities, as well as specific provisions for children and vulnerable persons are also contained in the legislative instrument. The Directive allows Member States to put in place or to keep more favourable standards than those set out in its provisions.

Key features

The Directive aims to ensure that people fleeing persecution, wars and torture are treated fairly, in a uniform manner throughout the EU. It does so by:

  • Clarifying the grounds for granting and withdrawing international protection.
  • Regulating exclusion and cessation grounds.
  • Improving the access of beneficiaries of international protection to rights and integration measures. It better takes into account the specific practical difficulties faced by beneficiaries of international protection.
  • Ensuring that the best interest of the child and other gender-related aspects are taken into account in the assessment of asylum applications, as well as in the implementation of the rules on the content of international protection

Towards a reform of the CEAS: the Qualification Regulation proposal

While the Qualification Directive sets out standards for the recognition and protection to be offered at EU level, in practice the nature and the content of protection granted vary, sometimes widely, between Member States.

The current migration crisis has exposed structural weaknesses and shortcomings in the design and implementation of the CEAS. In line with the approach set out in the European Agenda for Migration in 2015, the Commission has proposed two comprehensive reform packages to strengthen the CEAS, grounded on the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

In order to further strengthen and harmonise CEAS rules, the Commission submitted in July 2016 a draft proposal for a new Qualification Regulation. The proposal codifies the latest case law of the CJEU and further harmonises common criteria for qualifying for international protection, thus ensuring convergence of asylum decisions. It is also closely linked to the other asylum instruments contained in the two-package reform. Finally, further provisions aim at

  • ensuring that protection is granted only for as long as the grounds for persecution or serious harm persist, without affecting person's integration prospects
  • addressing secondary movements of beneficiaries of international protection
  • further harmonising the rights of beneficiaries of international protection

Discussions on the individual proposals both in the Council and in the Parliament are currently ongoing and follow a comprehensive approach on both reform packages.