25/10/2012 - Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA)
Improving standards for the reception of asylum seekers
At today's meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, ministers reached agreement on a directive laying down standards for the reception of asylum seekers. This directive is one of five legislative instruments making up the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) package.
The aim of the draft directive is to improve and harmonise the legal situation of applicants for international protection, regardless of the member state in which the application is made. The directive features the following innovations:
- a comprehensive set of rules governing the detention of applicants, including far-reaching guarantees for detainees
- a shorter waiting period before access to the labour market is granted
- more detailed rules on granting, limiting and withdrawing material reception conditions
- clearer rules as regards opportunities to obtain free legal assistance and representation
- more specific procedures for assessing the reception needs of vulnerable persons, such as minors and victims of torture
- additional guarantees catering for the housing needs of minor and dependent adult applicants
- entitlements in cases of serious mental disorders, including, where needed, appropriate mental health care, as well as an obligation for member states to provide requisite care for victims of torture, rape or other serious acts of violence.
The European Council has committed itself to establishing the CEAS by the end of 2012. Of the legislative texts making up the package, one - the so-called qualification directive - has already entered into force (in January 2012), following the conclusion of negotiations with the European Parliament (EP). Negotiations on the asylum procedures directive, the Dublin regulation and the Eurodac regulation are under way.
Today's agreement is based on the result of negotiations with the EP and clears the way for formal adoption.
Member states may establish more favourable rules if they so wish.