EU Tackles Asylum System Shortcomings

     (CN) – In the wake of the deepening refugee crisis, the European Commission on Wednesday issued 40 warnings to member states that have not fully implemented the standardized EU asylum system.
     Since 2000, the commission has proposed – and EU lawmakers have adopted – several measures that when combined form the Common European Asylum System. The system mandates standardized treatment of asylum-seekers across all member states, and covers each step along the way – entry and reception, application, qualifications for granting asylum, fingerprinting and documentation and return to home country in cases where the applicant is rejected.
     But the commission said Wednesday that 19 member states have not fully implemented all aspects of the asylum system – oversights that will hamper carrying out Tuesday’s legislative agreement to allocate refugees across the EU.
     “Solidarity and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. EU leaders in an extraordinary European Council in April called for the rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System to ensure common European standards under existing legislation,” said commission first vice president Frans Timmermans. “The European Commission is the guardian of the treaties and today’s 40 infringement proceedings are meant to ensure that member states actually implement and apply what they had previously agreed to do – and agreed to do rapidly and fully. Our Common European Asylum System can only function if everyone plays by the rules.”
     Migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos added, “In Europe everyone must uphold the commonly agreed standards in the way we receive asylum seekers. All participating member states must process their asylum applications according to the common criteria and standards, which are used by national authorities to determine whether someone is entitled to international protection. These standards need to be fully implemented and respected, while always respecting the dignity and human rights of the applicants.”
     The so-called infringement decisions – which range from first-stage letters of formal notice to second-stage reasoned opinions – give the offending member states two months to either fully implement the missing standards or offer justifications for the delay.
     At the reasoned opinion stage, the commission can take the offending state to the European Court of Justice for not bringing national legislation in line with EU law.
     Most of the violations involve not implementing asylum procedures and reception conditions requirements, or not informing the commission of transposition into national law.
     Meanwhile, the commission said Greece – a front-line point of entry in the refugee crisis – will receive extra scrutiny due to “serious deficiencies in the Greek asylum system, notably with regard to the material reception conditions for applicants, particularly those with special reception needs and vulnerable persons, and structural flaws in the functioning of the guardianship system or legal representation of all unaccompanied minors during the asylum procedure.”
     Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland opted out of the common asylum system and are exempt from commission oversight.

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