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EC Green Paper on the Common European Asylum System

Briefing notes

EC Green Paper on the Common European Asylum System

11 September 2007

UNHCR welcomes the European Commission's Green Paper and launching of a broad public consultation on the future Common European Asylum System.

We have submitted a detailed response to the Green Paper, which is available on our website. Essentially, our response consists of a general statement of our suggestions as regards the principal elements of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), as well as detailed replies to the Green Paper's 35 wide-ranging questions. Our response is premised on the understanding that the fundamental objective of the CEAS is to make sure that persons in need of international protection can find this protection, wherever they apply for it in the European Union.

At present, EU Member States take very different approaches to asylum applications, even when the claims on which these applications are based are very similar. The result is that the chances of finding protection differ greatly across the EU, even for the same group of asylum seekers. This is the case for instance for asylum seekers from Iraq, Sri Lanka and Somalia, to cite just a few examples. This situation needs to be remedied, but practice should not be harmonized at the level of the lowest common denominator. Rather, an effort needs to be made to achieve the highest possible standard of protection.

In UNHCR's view it is not necessary to establish a centralised EU structure to address the current divergences. However, EU monitoring and quality control do need to be strengthened. In our statement we suggest a range of measures to improve the quality and consistency of asylum decision-making within the EU. We also make proposals to remedy the shortcomings we see in the EU asylum directives which have been adopted to date. For example, we propose that the EU eliminate all possibilities for Member States to derogate from agreed EU minimum standards, and that steps be taken to ensure that EU law is fully in line with international refugee and human rights law.

UNHCR will participate actively in the discussion around the Green Paper and in the public hearing which the European Commission will organize on this subject in the autumn.