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Proposed EU Pact on immigration and asylum

Briefing notes

Proposed EU Pact on immigration and asylum

8 July 2008

UNHCR is closely following discussions concerning the draft European Pact on Immigration and Asylum presented yesterday (Monday) by the French EU Presidency at an informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Cannes. We hope this document will support the construction of a 'Europe of Asylum' - one of the pact's stated aims.

The proposed pact focuses to a large extent on managing legal migration and controlling irregular migration. We consider there is a need to develop practical and reliable ways to safeguard the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees in the context of migration management and border control. A 'Europe of Asylum' cannot be built without assurances of access to the European Union for persons seeking protection.

The draft pact also addresses disparities in asylum decision-making across the EU, an issue which has regularly been highlighted by UNHCR. We urge the EU, under the French Presidency, to take up the challenge of improving the quality of asylum decision-making across the EU. The strengthening of practical cooperation among Member States and the creation of a European Asylum Support Office are positive proposals, and we are ready to cooperate with the EU to meet these goals.

We welcome the reference made in the pact to refugee resettlement but would like to see further steps taken to increase the participation of EU Member States in worldwide refugee resettlement efforts. At present, a small number of the 27 Member States have regular resettlement programmes, and the EU provides only around five percent of places available worldwide for refugee resettlement.