24 November 2014

A major challenge facing beneficiaries of international protection is the fact that they cannot move and settle freely in another Member State after they have been granted status by one Member State. By virtue of the Dublin III Regulation, strict criteria are used to determine which Member State is responsible for processing an asylum claim which can leave an individual separated from their family or unable to move to another country where they have better integration prospects. In order to seek solutions for these difficulties facing refugees in Europe, ECRE has released a discussion paper on the mutual recognition of positive asylum decisions and the transfer of international protection status within the EU.

ECRE concludes that having a system in place which recognises another Member State’s positive asylum decision and allows for the transfer of international protection status between States would alleviate these problems facing refugees. It would also rectify the anomaly which allows States to recognise and implement another State’s negative and return decisions, yet there is no systematic recognition of a Member State’s positive asylum decision. Having such instruments in place would also complete the Common European Asylum System and would ensure that a uniform status on asylum be truly valid within the Union.

The discussion paper starts by examining whether there is a legal basis for the application of the principle of mutual recognition under international and European Union (EU) law and the consequences thereof. It finds that while there is some basis for its application under international and EU law, the principle lacks implementation and as a result more detailed regulation is required to give it its intended effect.  ECRE also analyses what it means to transfer an international protection status between Member States, whether it is necessary, and the practical difficulties that may be encountered. Finally, the paper looks at the Long Term Residence Directive as amended and its current protection gaps including in relation to the free movement of beneficiaries of international protection.

The Action Plan implementing the Stockholm Programme foresaw a communication from the European Commission on the topic of mutual recognition of positive asylum seekers. However, the strategic guidelines in in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice adopted last June did not make any reference to the topic. As previously stated by Kris Pollet, ECRE’s Senior Legal and Policy Officer, “It is extremely disappointing that the Strategic Guidelines lack any ambition and vision on the next steps needed to complete a Common European Asylum System that respects the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. For instance, it is striking that the mutual recognition of positive asylum decisions across the EU has not been included in the Strategic Guidelines as it is the next logical step in the completion of the legal framework of the Common European Asylum System.”