UNHCR recommendations to Belgium

UNHCR recommendations to Belgium - Six steps toward...

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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Bureau for Europe, B - 1050 Brussels Rue Van Eyck 11b, tel.: +32 2 627 5999, fax: +32 2 627 5958, e-mail: belbrbe@unhcr.org Six steps toward convergence, quality and shared responsibility UNHCR’s recommendations to Belgium for its EU Presidency July – December 2010 UNHCR welcomes Belgium’s intention to make asylum a priority for its activities in the Justice and Home Affairs field during its 2010 EU Presidency. Significant progress should be possible as key elements are now in place: the Lisbon Treaty establishes a new legal basis for common standards and completion of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS); new decision-making arrangements are in place in the Council; the Stockholm Programme sets out a clear agenda for the next five years; and the Commission has presented a series of proposals for new legal and policy measures. At the same time, Member States have made clear their reservations about further regulation of asylum, for a variety of reasons. The economic problems in some Member States provide a difficult backdrop against which to convince citizens of the need to invest in new measures. A way forward needs to be found which can reconcile current political considerations with the commitment to build a Common European Asylum System in full respect of international and regional refugee and human rights law. Member States have pledged to protect persons who fear persecution and human rights violations in their own countries, and refugee protection is a fundamental part of Europe’s tradition and values. Member States remain convinced of the value of harmonisation of and convergence in their asylum systems. i UNHCR believes that further measures to build a CEAS are not only necessary to eliminate the current unjustifiable inequalities in the treatment of asylum applications, but also to reduce irregular secondary movements within the EU. It is in the interest of all Member States to ensure that their asylum systems are more accurate, efficient and consistent. The EU’s commitment to support third countries in the area of asylum capacity building is also important. UNHCR looks forward to working with the EU to strengthen refugee protection and access to durable solutions around the world, including through Regional Protection Programmes. However, capacity building alone, even with strong political support, will not resolve refugee problems, and the EU’s engagement with third countries therefore cannot be seen as a substitute for – or justification for limiting access to – protection for asylum seekers in the European Union. Against this backdrop, UNHCR proposes six areas on which it encourages the Belgian EU Presidency to focus, with a view to achieving substantive progress in the area of refugee protection.
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2 Achieving quality and consistency through practical means Strengthen the focus on quality and consistency of asylum decisions across the EU through practical initiatives in
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UNHCR recommendations to Belgium - Six steps toward...

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