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UNHCR recommendations to Portuguese EU presidency

Briefing notes

UNHCR recommendations to Portuguese EU presidency

15 June 2007

Today, Friday, UNHCR issued its Recommendations to the Government of Portugal for its EU Presidency in the second half of 2007. The High Commissioner is in Lisbon today to discuss these recommendations, which concern asylum policy within the European Union as well as actions of the EU beyond its borders.

UNHCR is urging Portugal to keep refugee protection inside the European Union on its agenda. The future Common European Asylum System will be the subject over the coming months of a public consultation launched by the European Commission. This will be an occasion to focus on ways to address gaps in the current EU legal framework, as well as between EU law and the practice of Member States.

The UNHCR Recommendations also urge the incoming EU Presidency to work to ensure that measures taken to deter irregular migration do not result in violations of basic rights, including the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. On interception and rescue at sea, UNHCR is asking Portugal and the other Member States to emphasize the unqualified obligation of shipmasters to rescue persons in distress, and to work to resolve the lack of clarity concerning responsibility for disembarkation of persons rescued at sea and, in the case of asylum seekers, examination of claims and provision of international protection where needed.

UNHCR's Recommendations also call on Portugal to work to ensure that EU cooperation with third countries on refugee protection is undertaken in a spirit of true partnership, to address the needs of refugees and to find lasting solutions to refugee problems. UNHCR also hopes the Presidency will take the lead in promoting discussions about refugee resettlement in the European Union. At present only six EU countries have annual resettlement programmes. UNHCR is encouraging others to join in this effort.