antique-clock-wallpaper-mobile-whjA new legal briefing published this week by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) examines the length of asylum procedures across 20 European countries. The briefing analyses the transposition and implementation of time limits set out in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive for completing the regular asylum procedure, special procedures applicable to specific caseloads, as well as appeals against negative decisions. Overall, European practice confirms the non-binding character of procedural deadlines, which do not seem to be followed by asylum authorities in most cases.

Whereas the Directive provides for the examination of an asylum application within 6 months, a number of countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary and Serbia have laid down deadlines shorter than 6 months for processing asylum applications under the regular procedure. These have often proved difficult to comply with in recent practice, however.

The possibility under the Directive to postpone the examination of an application in the case of an uncertain situation in the country of origin, which is expected to be temporary, raises tensions with the rights to international protection and good administration. Recent practices of postponement in countries such as Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have been criticised for unduly delaying outcomes to asylum seekers’ requests for protection. Significantly longer processing periods are also reported currently in France and Germany for certain nationalities.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 07 October 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.