The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) gave the green light this week to an agreement to recast the Dublin Regulation and the Reception Conditions Directive.

In ECRE’s view, the agreement reached on the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive represents a missed opportunity to make detention of asylum seekers truly exceptional. Indeed, the fact that Member States will not be required to provide for the automatic judicial review of detention in combination with the very broad grounds for detention means that the Directive allows for the systematic and arbitrary detention of asylum seekers.  As most protection seekers in the EU have entered irregularly, detaining asylum seekers “to determine identity and nationality” might allow for the systematic detention of asylum seekers.

Furthermore, the new Directive allows for the detention of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children “in exceptional circumstances” and for the detention of asylum seekers in prison accommodations.

As a positive development, the new Directive will include an obligation for Member States to identify vulnerable groups.

Asylum seekers will be allowed to access the labour market within nine months of lodging the application if no first instance decision on the asylum application has been made, instead of twelve months in the current directive. However, Member States would still be allowed to impose conditions for access to the labour market in national legislation.

Regarding the Dublin Regulation, the agreement backed by the LIBE Committee this week includes a number of new important procedural safeguards including the right to a personal interview and the right to information.

However, although the agreement reached will introduce significant humanitarian reforms, the Dublin system will continue to cause hardship for people seeking international protection as long as not all Member States respect their fundamental rights.

“In an ideal world, the Dublin II regulation should not be needed. But now we are creating a new regulatory framework that provides stronger legal guarantees for individual refugees and clear rules for member states to live up to”, said Parliament’s rapporteur Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).

Both legislative instruments are expected to be formally adopted later this year.




This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 21 September 2012
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