A legal briefing published last week by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) documents the various legal frameworks and practices of issuing travel documents to beneficiaries of international protection in 20 European countries. The briefing highlights the fragmented nature of the issuing of travel documents. It also raises concerns about the European Commission proposal to introduce a one year minimum duration period and the differential treatment of various protection status holders.

Regarding the duration of travel documents issued to holders of international protection, the briefing finds that with the exception of Hungary and Turkey, all EU countries and Switzerland currently provide a period of validity that is longer than one year. Hence, the Commission proposal to introduce a one year minimum time span, could lead to a ‘race to the bottom’.

The briefing further highlights the diverging treatment of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection when it comes to the right to travel and the period of validity of those travel documents. In all cases beneficiaries of subsidiary protection enjoy fewer rights than refugees.

The briefing concludes that the absence of a comprehensive legal instrument on recognition of travel documents and transfer of responsibility results in a complex and fragmented legal framework and gives rise to confusion in many countries. Other topics discussed in the legal briefing are the recognition of travel documents issued by other countries and the transfer of responsibility for refugees between states.

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 See also the AIDA article of 28 October 2016. Photo: Aaron Farr, some rights reserved.