Justice and Home Affairs Council seeks agreement on common European asylum system
The Justice and Home Affairs Council will meet in Luxembourg on 8 June. Finland will be represented at the meeting by Markku Keinänen, Head of Mission to the Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU. One of the topics on the agenda of the meeting of home affairs ministers is the reform of the EU’s asylum system. The aim is to reach agreement on two proposals for regulations, which are essential to the whole, in order to proceed with the negotiations with the European Parliament. It would then be possible to complete the reform in this parliamentary term.
At EU level, the reform of the common European asylum system (CEAS) seeks to strike a balance between provisions that bring migration management obligations with provisions that even out the distribution of responsibilities in times of crisis and in cases of disproportionate pressure. It is important to strike a balance in order to establish a fair and functional system for all Member States, irrespective of the volume and nature of migration flows to their soil. The aim is also to ensure that asylum seekers’ cases are handled efficiently and with high quality in all Member States.
All Member States should take joint responsibility for asylum seekers
At the meeting on 8 June, the Swedish Presidency seeks a common view among the Member States on the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, which contains provisions on the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application and the solidarity mechanism. The compromise now under discussion is based on the European Commission’s proposal of September 2020. One Member State remains responsible for examining the application, and the Regulation contains provisions on how this Member State is to be defined.
The solidarity mechanism would be a flexible and partly responsive system for Member States to show solidarity with countries under migratory pressure. Participation in the mechanism would be mandatory, but Member States would be able to choose the way in which they participate.
Alternative measures would include relocation of asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection, direct financial support or other support measures needed by the beneficiary Member State (such as expert or material support). In the case of relocation, Member States could indicate the categories of applicants that they are willing to relocate, while taking into account the needs of the beneficiary Member States.
To reach a compromise, a minimum level of relocations and direct financial support would also be added to the Regulation. However, the final annual amount of support set out in the Commission recommendation will always be based on an assessment of the actual need.
Sufficient capacity for the processing of applications in border procedures to be specified for Member States
Another aim of the ministerial meeting is to adopt the Council’s general approach on the Asylum Procedure Regulation. At the end of 2022, the Council agreed on a partial general approach on the proposal, excluding the more challenging articles on border procedures, safe countries and appeals, among other things.
As regards border procedures, the objective is to improve the efficiency of the processing of asylum applications, in particular applications lodged at the external borders of the Union that have a low likelihood of resulting in the granting of international protection. This will be achieved through a border procedure, which will be mandatory for all Member States in certain circumstances.
To reach a compromise, the Swedish Presidency has put forward certain elements for a mandatory border procedure that would allow it to be better adapted to the different situations in the Member States. Member States would be given certain sufficient capacity needed to process applications, and measures that could be taken when the capacity was exhausted or about to be exhausted.
The sufficient capacity would cover both the necessary reception capacity and the resources required for examining applications. Sufficient capacity should be available on a continuous basis, meaning that applications could always be processed in the amount for which capacity was available at the time. It is Finland’s position that the compromise proposal can be accepted.