Asylum

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Family reunification represents a safe and legal channel for beneficiaries of international protection to reunite with their separated family members. Family reunification is a crucial element to foster integration of beneficiaries of international protection in host societies and promote economic and social cohesion in the Member States. To this end, EU law recognises more favourable conditions to beneficiaries of international protection to apply for family reunification in comparison with ordinary third-country nationals. However, there are legal gaps and barriers which are in practice undermining the right to family reunification, in particular for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, humanitarian status holders and unaccompanied minors. In fact, several Member States are narrowing the rights to family reunification and reversing the simplified procedures for beneficiaries of international protection. For instance, Sweden has temporarily suspended family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection until 2019. As a result, EU and national policies on family reunification may negatively affect those beneficiaries of international protection who are still separated from their closest family members and reduce their chances of integration in the Member States.

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As a result of the large number of asylum seekers arriving in the EU during 2015 and 2016, the debate on the distribution of asylum responsibilities in the EU has gained relevance, leading to the introduction of several new measures. The hotspots approach, described in the 2015 European Agenda on Migration, involves coordinated operational support by the EU agencies (Frontex, EASO and Europol) to Member States faced with disproportionate migratory pressure, with the aim to help them swiftly identify, register and fingerprint migrants, and assist in the implementation of relocation and returns. Alongside operational support, an emergency relocation mechanism was adopted to support member states under pressure: specifically, in September 2015, the Council adopted two Decisions regarding the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other Member States to take place over 24 months from the adoption of the decisions. In 2016, the Commission launched an overall reform of the Common European Asylum System, which also includes a set of new measures related to responsibility-sharing. In particular, the Commission proposal on the reform of the Dublin system includes, among other things, the introduction of a permanent corrective allocation mechanism that would be activated   automatically in cases where Member States would have to deal with a disproportionate number of asylum seekers. Moreover, the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum presented by the Commission in May 2016 takes stock of the hotspots’ experience by enhancing EASO’s mandate and resources, including operational support in the management of asylum applications.

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The safe third country concept is based on the assumption that an applicant for international protection could have obtained it in another country and therefore the receiving state is entitled to reject responsibility for the protection claim. The safe third country concept is applied as a ground for declaring an application inadmissible and for barring applicants from a full examination of the merits of their claim, as is the case for the “first country of asylum” concept, which covers refugees who have already obtained and can again avail themselves of protection in a third country. Member States’ practice shows considerable disparities in the way safe third country rules have been applied, with some adding to the list of countries they consider safe recently as reaction to the 2015/16 arrivals, while at the same time other Member States are becoming more reluctant to apply the concept. In this context, the proposals included in the reform of the Common European Asylum system initiated in 2016 include a set of new provisions regarding safe third country concepts. Specifically, a key provision of the proposed Regulation on asylum procedures is to make the application of safe third country (and first country of asylum) criteria mandatory, instead of leaving it at the discretion of the Member States as it is the case under the current Procedures Directive. Moreover, the Commission proposes to progressively move towards full harmonization in this area, by replacing national safe

Survey

Other areas of interest

Surveys

Survey 1 - Impossibility and hardship of family reunion for beneficiaries of international protection

Family reunification represents a safe and legal channel for beneficiaries of international protection to reunite with their separated family members. Family reunification is a crucial element to foster integration of beneficiaries of international protection in host societies and promote economic and social cohesion in the Member States. To this end, EU law recognises more favourable conditions to beneficiaries of international protection to apply for family reunification in comparison with ordinary third-country nationals.

Survey 2 - Responsibility sharing in asylum policy

As a result of the large number of asylum seekers arriving in the EU during 2015 and 2016, the debate on the distribution of asylum responsibilities in the EU has gained relevance, leading to the introduction of several new measures.

Survey 3 - Safe Third Country

The safe third country concept is based on the assumption that an applicant for international protection could have obtained it in another country and therefore the receiving state is entitled to reject responsibility for the protection claim. The safe third country concept is applied as a ground for declaring an application inadmissible and barring applicants from a full examination of the merits of their claim, as is the case for the “first country of asylum” concept, which covers refugees who have already obtained and can again avail themselves of protection in a third country.

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