8th April 2016

EC opens discussions on asylum system reform

On 6 April, the European Commission launched a discussion on the future of the EU asylum system. The current system is by all means unsustainable in times of crises. Countries on the edges of the Union are overwhelmed (Italy, Greece) and differences in asylum rules attract migrants to just a few countries (Germany, Sweden). To address the shortcomings, the EC proposes several changes. Firstly, the Dublin rules (responsibility for evaluating asylum claim rests with the EU country of first entry) would be amended to provide for a permanent correction mechanism – the so-called permanent quotas. The EC proposes either to use it only in cases of large migration waves, or to use it always. This is probably the most controversial part of the discussion – Eastern EU members absolutely reject such an idea. Secondly, asylum procedures and rules in the EU should be further harmonized, i.e. made more similar. In that way, asylum-seekers would not have incentives for “asylum shopping”. This could be achieved either by amending the current directive, or by replacing it with a more robust, directly applicable regulation. Thirdly, the EC proposes to adopt a set of rules to stop secondary movements. Refugees with asylum do not have the right to free movement inside the EU. New rules would clarify procedures in case a refugee leaves his/her country of asylum, including a possibility of sanctions. At the same time, the EC proposes to strengthen the role of European Asylum Support Office, of the existing biometric databases and to adjust ways for legal migration for qualified workers and innovative entrepreneurs. Discussions with all relevant stakeholders, namely the member state diplomats, are now launched. The final result (a package of legislative proposals) is expected at the end of April.

For more on this issue, click here, here and here.

Also on 6 April, the EC proposed a modernization of border checks for non-EU nationals on external Schengen borders. The EC calls the proposed system “Entry-Exit” and it would be automated, connected with the relevant databases and would in practice eliminate the old-style stamping of passports. The system would record all entries and exits of Schengen by non-EU nationals, together with their respective personal data, including biometrical. It would make border checks faster (possibly fully automated), more reliable and more user-friendly for bona fide travelers. It is part of the intended Smart Borders regime on external Schengen borders.

For more, click here and here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic