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UNHCR to sign agreements with European Commission

Briefing notes

UNHCR to sign agreements with European Commission

15 February 2005

In Brussels today, UNHCR and the European Commission are scheduled to sign two agreements designed to strengthen cooperation on the development of European laws, policy and assistance for refugees, both within the EU and beyond.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers will sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement with External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, aimed at consolidating, developing and structuring UNHCR-European Commission cooperation on protection and assistance for refugees and other people of concern to UNHCR outside the EU.

Mr Lubbers will also sign another agreement, in the form of an exchange of letters, with European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security - formerly known as Justice and Home Affairs - on greater cooperation on asylum and refugee protection issues. This builds on a previous arrangement geared to the first phase of EU harmonization of asylum which was completed in May last year. The continuing cooperation takes into account the new orientation of European refugee policy laid out in the 2004 Hague Programme - the EU's action plan on asylum issues over the next five years.