The updated AIDA Country Reports on Spain and France document developments in the two countries’ asylum systems, against the backdrop of increasing numbers of asylum applications. A total of 55,570 asylum seekers registered applications in Spain, while 139,330 were registered in France.

Prompt registration and access to the procedure remain key concerns in both countries. In Spain, applicants wait 6 months on average for an appointment to lodge their claim, while some persons in Madrid have received appointments as late as December 2020. In France, asylum seekers continue to face obstacles to accessing an orientation platform (PADA) with a view to obtaining an appointment with the Prefecture single desk (GUDA). A telephone appointment system set up in the Ile-de-France region in 2018 has been criticised as inefficient by NGOs, as well as courts referring to “virtual queues” of asylum seekers.

Key developments in Spain

Access to the territory: In order to respond to the increasing number of arrivals, during 2018 the new Spanish Government started putting in place new resources in order to manage arrivals and to carry out the identification of persons’ vulnerabilities in the first days of arrival. Specific facilities for emergency and referral have been created: these are referred to as Centres for the Temporary Reception of Foreigners (Centros de Acogida Temporal de Extranjeros, CATE) and Centres for Emergency Reception and Referral (Centros de Acogida de Emergencia y Derivación, CAED).

Differential treatment of specific nationalities: At the end of 2018, the number of pending claims by Venezuelan nationals was 28,547. On 5 March 2019, the authorities announced a policy granting one-year renewable residence permits “on humanitarian grounds of international protection” to Venezuelan nationals whose asylum applications have been rejected between January 2014 and February 2019.

Withdrawal of reception conditions: Media reports have referred to at least 20 persons returned under the Dublin Regulation who were excluded from the reception system and were rendered homeless, on the basis that they had renounced their entitlement to accommodation upon leaving Spain. Also during October 2018, media reported that six families of asylum seekers were excluded from the asylum system after being returned from Germany to Spain in the framework of the Dublin Regulation. The families ended up accommodated in emergency shelters of the Municipality of Madrid, generally aimed at the reception of homeless persons. Following a January 2019 judgment of the Superior Court of Madrid, the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security has issued instructions to ensure that asylum seekers returned under the Dublin Regulation are guaranteed access to reception.

Key developments in France

Asylum reform: Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018 brought a significant number of changes to the Ceseda. Asylum procedure

Access to the territory: The practice of systematic refusal of entry of persons arriving at the Italian land border continues, despite widespread criticism and condemnation by Administrative Courts. The Border Police has implemented similar measures of push backs on the Spanish land border in the course of 2018. Following the 2018 reform, the right to a “full day” (jour franc) protecting the person against removal can no longer be claimed at land borders.

Accelerated procedure: Applicants under accelerated procedure on grounds of safe country of origin, subsequent application or threat to public order lose their right to remain on French territory from the moment of notification of a negative decision from OFPRA. They may nevertheless request suspensive effect before the Administrative Court for their appeal before the CNDA.

Freedom of movement: Asylum seekers must report to and remain in the region allocated to them by OFII, even if no housing is granted to them. Asylum seekers will automatically lose their reception conditions in case they do not report to or remain in that region, or if they do not abide by the requests of the authorities.

Duration of detention: A person can remain in administrative detention for a maximum of 90 days, up from 45 days prior to the reform.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.