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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

​EU asylum laws reform: retrograde proposals on rights for asylum-seekers


13th July 2016

The European Commission today set out further proposals for reforming the EU’s system of asylum rules, notably the criteria under which asylum-seekers’ applications for international protection are judged in the EU, and the rights and treatment they should receive.

Commenting on the proposals, Jean Lambert MEP, Greens asylum spokesperson said: 

“The EU has justifiably come under fire for its response to the refugee crisis but today’s proposals from the Commission will do nothing to allay this. This latest step in the ongoing review of the EU’s asylum rules represents further retrograde steps in a number of areas of asylum policy, notably regarding the rights of asylum seekers and an obsession with punitive measures.

​“The framing of the issue we are being presented with needs to be turned on its head – people are fleeing because their lives are threatened and homes being destroyed, not because the EU’s asylum system is gold plated – it’s  not! During the previous review of the EU asylum system we fought to try to ensure that a fair examination of the claim is at the core of the system. The Commission’s obsession with administrative expediency and sanctions over ensuring that asylum-​seekers have the information they need to be able to comply with their obligations and Member States have the time to examine claims thoroughly must be reversed.

“The appalling conditions people, including unaccompanied children, are living in in camps in northern France and elsewhere, are proof that the current EU asylum laws do not function. But the pressure on the system must in no way be used to justify less protection, fewer rights or inhuman treatment. We will continue to work for an asylum system which respects international law and human dignity for every individual.”

The proposals announced tomorrow relate to the revision of the EU ‘Reception Conditions Directive’ which covers access to housing, food and health care for asylum-seekers, and the ‘Qualifications Directive’ covering the grounds on which international protection status is granted in the EU.

These proposals follow planned changes to the ‘Dublin Regulation’ – the system under which responsibility for asylum applications is shared among EU member countries – announced in May.

Greens were highly critical of those proposals which they say reinforce current failures in the system and will not give more certainty and hope to desperate people. Jean Lambert is one of the authors of the paper ‘The Green Alternative to the Dublin System‘.

​As part of its exit negotiations with the European Union, the UK could agree to implement EU asylum policy, or parts of it. Non-EU members including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have agreements in place with the EU on the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees.