Reception conditions constitute the material support offered to asylum seekers while they await a decision on their applications. Such support usually includes food, housing, education, health care, language training and access to employment.
Asylum seekers may have recently escaped from traumatic experiences, sometimes involving the disappearance or death of family members and friends, torture or armed conflicts. Upon arrival they generally need rest, space and respect. Reception facilities should therefore seek to meet these needs. Adequate conditions of reception are also essential to the functioning of a fair and efficient procedure, as they allow asylum seekers to have a dignified standard of living while they are awaiting a decision on their applications.
In January 2003, the European Union adopted a Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers in the Member States. ECRE considers that the Directive has contributed to strengthening the legal framework of national reception practices, particularly in those countries with under-developed reception systems.
Nevertheless, Member States have sometimes used the ambiguity of some of the Directive's provisions to derogate from their obligations concerning reception conditions. As a result, in many countries asylum seekers are not provided with an adequate standard of living in terms of acceptable housing and sufficient financial allowances to cover their basic needs. They also face significant legal and practical obstacles to access employment, education and health care. ECRE regards the Proposal to recast the Directive put forward by the Commission in December 2008 as an opportunity to address these flaws (read ECRE Comments on the Proposal). Because of the stall in the negotiations on the 2008 proposal as initially drafted, the Commission presented on 1 June 2011 a new amended proposal recasting the Reception Conditions Directive that should boost the work to achieve Common European Asylum System.
► 21.10.2011 Interview with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen about the reception crisis in Belgium
► 27.05.2008 ECRE calls on EU to revise the Reception Directive
► 30.01.2007 No Equal Opportunities for refugees in the European Year of Equal Opportunities
► 26.02.2013 ECRE Letter to Commissioner Malmstrom regarding transfer of competences in Greece
► 23.11.2012 Op-ed by Liz Fekete, Executive Director of the Institute of Race Relations
► 07.05.2012 166 NGOs call on the EU institutions to respect asylum seekers' right to liberty in EU asylum legislation