The preparations for the Stockholm Programme will bring the European asylum policies into the spotlight. To assist Sweden
when leading the negotiations on the Programme, UNHCR has presented a
number of recommendations on refugee protection to be taken into
The asylum procedure is currently undergoing a harmonization process
within the European Union. Policies and interpretations are to be
consistent throughout Europe, with the aim of making it insignificant
in which country an asylum-seeker asks for protection. The process is
supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and is believed to
have the possibility of bringing forth improvements as well as bridging
existing gaps in the system.
To assist Sweden’s attempts, UNHCR has published guidelines and
recommendations for its European Union Presidency. First of all, UNHCR
calls on Sweden to use its Presidency to reassert the importance of a
rights-based approach to border management and migration control.
Recent events, including Italy’s push-backs of boat people and European
Parliament elections in which anti-immigrant parties scored big gains
in a number of EU countries, give rise to concern about Europe’s
commitment to ensuring access to protection.
Carrying on, UNHCR is of the opinion that the solidarity among EU
Member States to assist those facing particular pressures resulting
from the arrival of irregular migrants and asylum seekers should be
strengthened. To do so, a menu of options is suggested including the
relocation from one Member State to another of persons recognized as
refugees. However, UNHCR points out that this should not be at the
expense of solidarity with non-EU countries hosting large refugee
populations. There must be a much stronger EU engagement in refugee
resettlement. Currently, the EU offers less than 10% of global
Our recommendations also stress the need to improve the quality and
consistency of decision-making on asylum claims across the EU. The
current situation, whereby applications from persons of the same
nationality and with similar case histories have totally different
outcomes from one country to another undermines the very premise of a
Common European Asylum System. UNHCR hopes that the planned European
Asylum Support Office will give top priority to this matter.
Although the European Commissions proposals for amendment of
existing EU laws of asylum have met with considerable resistance from
Member States, UNHCR – with the international mandate for protecting
and assisting refugees – believe that legislative amendments are needed
to fill gaps and improve standards.
Please see the full document for more details:
UNHCR’s recommendations to Sweden for its European Union Presidency