EU Aims at Unified Asylum Policies

October 22, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Jacques Barrot, Vice-president of the European Commission, speaks during a press conference in mid-October. He is now advocating standards for how asylum seekers are dealt with across the EU.  (Georges Gobet/AFP Photo)
Jacques Barrot, Vice-president of the European Commission, speaks during a press conference in mid-October. He is now advocating standards for how asylum seekers are dealt with across the EU. (Georges Gobet/AFP Photo)
WOERDEN, The Netherlands—Vice president of the European Commission, Jacques Barrot, launched proposals on Wednesday to further unify asylum policies across Europe's 27 member states, moving toward common EU asylum procedures in 2012.

The proposed measures aim at making asylum procedures more efficient, and providing asylum seekers with a higher degree of protection.

"Asylum seekers should have the same chance of being accepted and rejected in all EU countries," Barrot said at the press conference.

There are differences among member states in asylum procedures, Barrot said, referring to the current situation as an asylum lottery.

In 1999 the EU decided that in a Europe with no internal borders, basic conditions for refugees seeking international protection must be the same across the board.

The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) has as its goal establishing a common asylum procedure and a uniform asylum status throughout the EU.

Currently, the immigration burden is different across member states. Italy and Greece have complained about their burden being disproportionally high, due to the many illegal migrants entering Europe through their borders. The CEAS aims at spreading the burden.

Previously, a number of legislative measures were adopted to unify asylum policies at a minimum standard. Barrot says his proposal is necessary because “considerable disparities remain between member states.”

The formerly agreed upon Qualification Directives determines who can be classified as a refugee and what rights come with it.

The amendments Barrot proposes clarify the terms in the directives, leaving less room for divergent interpretations.

He also aims at eliminating the differences between rights in different member states, taking into account the challenges faced by refugees.

Before taking effect the proposals will need to be approved by the EU's member states.