Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report

ASYLUM (8351/02)

Letter from Lord Filkin, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, to the Chairman

Proposal for a Council Directive laying down minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in Member States (Council Document 8351/02)

  Thank you for your letter of 13 June in response to my letter of 7 June which was considered by the Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions). I am pleased the Committee has decided to clear the above document from scrutiny and have noted the contents of your letter.

  On vocational training, it may help further to explain that some Member States offer training to asylum seekers only once they have been granted access to the labour market. Member States should be encouraged to provide vocational training before access is granted as the training could provide applicants with important new skills that will help them to find employment once they have been granted access to the labour market. The first paragraph of Article 12 merely attempts to give some clarification that vocational training not be interpreted as the provision of training from employers or organisations to help people improve themselves whilst they are in employment.

  I continue to disagree with the Committee's view that the directive may lead to a lowering of standards or to minimum standards being set at the level of the lowest common denominator. I have not seen any evidence of other Member States intending to lower the standards of their reception conditions following implementation of this directive. The minimum standards outlined in the Reception Directive have not been "set at the level of the lowest common denominator".

  I have already explained to the Committee that some Member States will be obliged to make changes to the reception conditions they provide in order to meet the minimum standards of the directive.

  I hope you have found this information useful.

8 July 2002

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