UNHCR's recommendations to the EU German Presidency

Briefing Notes, 15 December 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 15 December 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

On January 1, 2007, Germany will take over the Presidency of the EU. In a public document presented to the German government this week, UNHCR makes a series of recommendations on key refugee protection issues. In particular, UNHCR encourages the Presidency to lead a wide-ranging discussion on the steps needed to complete the establishment of a Common European Asylum System by 2010.

Political action and strong commitment are needed to ensure that people in need of international protection have effective access to EU territory and to fair and effective asylum procedures. In UNHCR's view, a considerable amount of work is still necessary to ensure that refugees receive protection in a consistent manner across the European Union's soon-to-be 27 member states. UNHCR welcomes the German Presidency's announcement that it intends to bring more attention to the situation of the EU's external borders.

UNHCR appreciates efforts to promote practical cooperation among the EU member states on asylum issues, and appeals for a renewed focus on the quality of asylum decision-making. It also highlights the need for a transparent discussion of the future of the Dublin II Regulation, which establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining which EU member state is responsible for examining a person's asylum claim.

While welcoming Germany's plans to promote the integration of foreigners in the European Union, UNHCR requests the Presidency to ensure that the particular needs of refugees are taken into account. UNHCR also supports efforts to establish a EU resettlement scheme for refugees. At present only a handful of European countries offer places for the resettlement of refugees who cannot remain in their first countries of asylum.