Working with European institutions

The European Union (EU) plays an important role in designing the asylum legislation and policies of its Member States.

UNHCR engages with EU institutions – including the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice – to ensure that EU laws and policies are in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

We collaborate on daily basis with EU institutions and agencies through our office in Brussels as well as liaison offices in Malta and Poland, which deal respectively with the European Asylum Support Office and Frontex, the EU’s external border agency. UNHCR cooperates with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, based in Vienna, including through expert consultations, conferences and seminars as well as data and information exchange.

The European Commission supports UNHCR’s work globally with earmarked contributions – mainly for humanitarian assistance. The EU is also a strategic partner for advancing key policies.

UNHCR’s recommendations to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union has a key role in advancing the EU’s agenda on asylum and migration. As part of our engagement with the Council of the European Union to ensure that EU laws and policies are in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, we issue recommendations to each incoming Presidency ahead of its tenure. The recommendations provide an overview of our most recent policy suggestions on EU matters.

UNHCR comments and proposals to the European Union institutions and agencies


UNHCR Court Interventions

Working with the Council of Europe

UNHCR works with the Council of Europe to ensure that the standard-setting instruments and human rights monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe continue to address the needs of refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.

Our Representation to the European Institutions in Strasbourg provides asylum and international refugee law expertise and information on situations in countries of origin to the various organs and entities of the Council of Europe, including the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Department for the Execution of ECtHR Judgments, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Committee of Social Rights, as well as the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies such as the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) and  the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

Working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Conflict management and addressing displacement is linked to the mandates of both the OSCE and UNHCR, and the two organizations are cooperating on a wide range of conceptual and operational issues. The number of persons of concern to UNHCR within the OSCE area is on a steady rise, which underlines the need for close cooperation.

UNHCR's Liaison Office in Vienna represents UNHCR to the OSCE, liaising with the 57 OSCE participating States, its 11 Partners for Co-operation, OSCE Executive Structures and Institutions such as the Secretariat, the Conflict Prevention Center, the Transnational Threats Department/Border Security and Management Unit, Special Representative/Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

This collaboration has resulted in joint OSCE-UNHCR multiphase projects such as: