The added value of a common European asylum system

EESC opinion: The added value of a common European asylum system

Key points

The European Economic Committee welcomes the EU institutions' approach to the issue of asylum and the interest shown by certain Member States in moving forward in this policy area.

The Committee endorses the objectives set by the EU with a view to completing the CEAS; it would highlight, however, the disparity between the objectives set at EU level and practices at national level, which could be exacerbated by the economic crisis and its ensuing social and political effects.

Although EU immigration and asylum policy is under pressure from a range of risks and uncertain factors at global level , the Committee believes that the various budgetary constraints ensuing from the economic crisis should not lead to a reduction in the level and quality of protection received by beneficiaries. The EU's political identity is closely bound up with safeguarding human rights. Failure to do so would greatly damage the EU's internal and external credibility as a political and democratic body.

The success or failure of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) hinges on a number of key variables: effective safeguarding of human rights, solidarity between Member States, harmonising legislation and policies in this field, enhancing the content of protection granted and proper funding for the competent EU institutions. A key priority, in the Committee's view, is to build the trust of the general public, civil society and Member State governments in a common European asylum policy. This can be achieved by swiftly making the policy operational and producing tangible results, especially in test cases.

The fact that systems for granting asylum vary from country to country entails significant costs. Developing the CEAS will clarify and limit these costs, firstly through legislative simplification (reducing the number of appeals or repeated requests, limiting the scope for abuse of procedures) and then through the action of the competent EU institutions (e.g. the European Asylum Support Office) which can take the place of the national authorities. It will then become easier to exchange good practice, train staff and importantly, redirect flows of asylum seekers.