UNHCR calls on EU Member States to raise asylum standards
In response to the "Policy Plan on Asylum" being issued today, Tuesday, by the European Commission (EC), UNHCR welcomes the EC proposal to work toward 'higher common standards of protection' through further aligning of Member States asylum laws and practice. UNHCR's own studies have shown that there are significant shortcomings in the quality of asylum law, policy and practice in the EU.
The Policy Plan sets out the main steps to be taken to complete development of the 'Common European Asylum System' by 2012. UNHCR welcomes this initiative and is confident that the "Policy Plan on Asylum" will provide an opportunity for Member States to limit divergence in law and practice and to further strengthen international protection standards for individuals seeking asylum in Europe.
The Commission has also proposed more intensive practical cooperation among Member States with regard to asylum. UNHCR endorses this idea, along with the proposal to establish a European Asylum Support Office, in which it hopes to have a formal role, to assist Member States and EU institutions.
In relation to solidarity among Member States, UNHCR welcomes the intention to amend the Dublin Regulation. Solidarity with third countries is also important, and we applaud the EC's stated intention to increase resettlement - a durable solution for the most vulnerable refugees - in the EU. UNHCR reiterates its commitment to work closely with Members States on this.
Today the EC is also issuing a communication on 'A Common Immigration Policy for Europe: Principles, actions and tools'. UNHCR has emphasized that policies on immigration - particularly on combating irregular immigration - must incorporate safeguards for people who may be in need protection. UNHCR urges the Commission and Member States to ensure that such safeguards are indeed incorporated in any initiatives taken on the basis of the Communication.