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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP welcomes passing of revised Qualifications Directive as ‘small but important step’ towards Common European Asylum System

Non EU-nationals who face serious harm in their home countries and gain protection in the EU will be entitled to the same rights as refugees to work, education, health care and accommodation under revised asylum rules proposed by Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert.

The recast Qualifications Directive {1}, passed today with overwhelming support from the European Parliament, will bring these changes into being.

Women seeking refuge from gender related persecution, such as female genital mutilation, forced abortion or rape in situations of conflict or war, are also set to receive greater protection under the amended Directive.  Member States will now be required to fully consider gender related aspects, including gender identity, when assessing asylum claims – an historic recognition of the different types of persecution likely to be faced by women in EU asylum law.

The revised Qualifications Directive is one of five asylum Directives currently undergoing revision, and will form a keystone of the Common European Asylum System which is due to be in place in 2012.

Jean, who served as author of the report into the revision of the Qualifications Directive and is a leading voice on asylum and immigration, said: “I am pleased that the European Parliament has accepted my report on the revised Qualifications Directive.  Today’s vote represents a small but important step towards a Common European Asylum System, which will improve Member States’ asylum systems and, most importantly, help ensure that protection and fundamental rights to work, education and accommodation are provided to those who need  international protection.

“The amended Directive will also play a vital role in realising an asylum system that recognises both gender and gender identity as grounds for protection.  Despite various attempts by the Commission to embed gender considerations into the development of the Common European Asylum System, female asylum seekers continue to experience wildly differing standards of protection and reception in Member States.  Following today’s vote, Member States will clearly be required to take gender into account when assessing asylum applications, and as such represents a real step forward to mainstreaming gender sensitivity in the EU’s asylum policy.”

On the British Government’s decision to opt-out of the recast directive, Jean said: “As a UK MEP, it is disappointing to say the least that the British Government has decided not to opt-in to the new version of the Qualifications Directive, effectively blocking the right to equal treatment for vulnerable people seeking to rebuild their lives.  We have to remember that we are talking about human beings, who have fled their homes in fear of persecution.  The UK has the possibility to play its role in raising protection standards across Europe rather than increasing legal complexity and I urge the Government to reconsider its decision.”

Notes to Editor

1. The Qualifications Directive stipulates who qualifies for refugee status and who qualifies for subsidiary protection, either as third country nationals or stateless people, and what rights they are entitled to.