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Working with the European Union

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The European Union (EU) has committed itself to building a Common European Asylum System based on the full and inclusive application of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, for which UNHCR has a supervisory responsibility. The EU has a central role with respect to asylum and resettlement issues inside and outside the Union, and EU law and practice has considerable influence on the development of refugee protection mechanisms in other countries.

EU institutions such as the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice have legislative, executive and judicial powers in areas directly relevant to UNHCR's mandate.

For all these reasons, the UN refugee agency follows EU asylum law and policy very closely. UNHCR’s Europe Bureau collaborates with EU institutions in Brussels and maintains liaison offices in Malta and Poland, which deal respectively with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Frontex, the EU’s external border agency.

Promoting respect for international protection norms in EU law and policy is of vital importance to UNHCR, and the agency, accordingly, provides its views on a wide range of issues related to refugee protection, resettlement and integration in the 27-member EU. UNHCR's reports, proposals and observations on EU asylum law and policy can be found on this page.

EU Instruments

UNHCR's regularly comments on key EU Regulations and Directives relating to asylum.

UNHCR Projects

UNHCR has numerous projects with EU Member States to improve the quality of asylum.

Judicial Engagement

UNHCR expertise helps courts interpret legislation in accordance with international asylum law.

Statelessness in Europe

UNHCR engages with EU Member States to identify and resolve the problems of stateless persons.

Groups of Concern

UNHCR expects Member States to pay particular attention to asylum seekers and refugees with specific needs.


The significance of resettlement as a durable solution is increasing in the EU.

Integration (refugee rights) and Family Reunification

Integration is a two-way process requiring efforts by the host societies as well as the refugees.


Trends on asylum and protection in EU Member States.

Border Cooperation

UNHCR is lobbying for protection-sensitive border management.

Asylum Practice

UNHCR is monitoring asylum practice and whether it is consistent with the 1951 Convention.

Practical cooperation

UNHCR is promoting and supporting cooperation with EU Member States and EASO.




Stateless and voiceless in the EU

UNHCR Statement on the occasion of the European elections, May 2014

UNHCR and the European Union

A pamphlet about our cooperation with the European Union published in September 2010.

Protection of Syrians in the EU

UNHCR's paper for the Informal JHA Council, Vilnius, 18 July 2013

Informal Meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 9 July 2015, Luxembourg

Remarks by António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Proposal for a Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative

EU solidarity for rescue-at-sea, protection and comprehensive responses, 16 October 2013.

UNHCR Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative (CMSI)

EU solidarity for rescue-at-sea and protection of Asylum Seekers and Migrants.

European Union (EU)

Asylum and refugee protection on the EU website

Refworld Online

UNHCR's decision-support tool for country of origin research and refugee status decisions.