EESC opinion: Criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible - international protection

Key points

Concerned about the indirect support which an over-restrictive and unwelcoming framework lends to the most authoritarian and least democratic regimes, the Committee endorses the recast and improvement of the directive on "reception standards", but reiterates a number of recommendations made in its previous opinions, and in particular in its response to the Green Paper on the future Common European Asylum System  and the action plan for a future common asylum system.

With regard to the reception of asylum seekers, the proposal for a recast of the directive should promote "common" rather than "minimal" standards which should constitute safeguard clauses for the standards applied by those Member States which do most to respect the fundamental rights of applicants for international protection, refugee status or subsidiary protection, particularly regarding:

  • guaranteed admission to the country,
  • freedom of choice as to where to lodge the application for asylum and protection,
  • consideration of refugee convention status first and then subsidiary protection, if and only if the conditions for the first status are not met,
  • the principle of no forcible repatriation if the applicant's life would be in danger in his country of origin or last transit country,
  • the suspension of an expulsion decision until the competent court has issued its decision, so as to ensure that the right of appeal becomes fully effective, in keeping with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (see point 4.8.1),
  • the special protection required by minors or presumed minors,
  • compliance with individual rights, particularly the right of women to lodge an application for protection.

The Committee encourages the Member States to accelerate negotiations with a view to the adoption of this recast by co-decision with the European Parliament, which will enable the European Union to improve its capacity to respond appropriately to requests for protection from asylum seekers.