UNHCR recommendations for the incoming Czech EU Presidency

Briefing Notes, 16 December 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 16 December 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is issuing today a document entitled "A Europe Without Barriers," containing its recommendations to the Czech Republic, which will take up the rotating Presidency of the European Union (EU) for a six-month period on January 1, 2009.

UNHCR remains seriously concerned that current laws and practice within the European Union mean that persons in need of international protection are not necessarily able to find it throughout the Union. In the document, UNHCR urges the Czech Presidency to ensure the outcome of negotiations among the EU member states is consistent with international refugee law and human rights law. Such negotiations, particularly on the amendments to the Dublin II Regulation and the Reception Conditions Directive should result in improved conditions for persons seeking protection in member states located at the EU's external borders and facing particular migratory pressures.

UNHCR urges the Member States to tackle the widely divergent levels of protection available across the EU through legislative amendments and practical cooperation. In its recommendations, UNHCR endorses the proposed creation of a European Asylum Support Office to promote practical cooperation on asylum among Member States. Given its supervisory responsibility regarding implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, we consider that a formal role for UNHCR in relation to this support body is essential.

In its recommendations, UNHCR endorses the proposed creation of a European Asylum Support Office to promote practical cooperation on asylum among EU member states. Given its supervisory responsibility regarding implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, we consider that a formal role for UNHCR in relation to this support body is essential.

UNHCR also encourages the incoming EU Presidency to promote greater solidarity within the Union as well as with third countries. In particular, UNHCR urges greater EU engagement in refugee resettlement and the swift implementation of the November 2008 conclusions adopted by the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs for the resettlement of particularly vulnerable refugees from Iraq.

UNHCR hopes that the discussions on migration management during the Czech Presidency will acknowledge the vital need to ensure that responses to migration challenges incorporate safeguards for people seeking asylum in the EU.

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