Chapter 5: international protection and
asylum policy |
95. The third pillar of the GAMM concerns the
promotion of international protection for refugees and enhancing
the external dimension of asylum policy. It states that the EU
and its Member States should be "among the frontrunners in
promoting global responsibility-sharing based on the Geneva Refugee
Convention and in close cooperation with the UNHCR, other relevant
agencies and non-EU countries".
96. The UNHCR and the Government welcomed the
addition of the third pillar in the reconstituted GAMM,
as did Ralph Genetzke, the Director of the International Centre
for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).
Charles Clarke considered this to be the second most important
GAMM pillar and Stefano Manservisi also emphasised its role in
the new GAMM.
European Asylum Support Office
97. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO),
which began operating in 2011, told us that it cooperates with
Frontex and international organisations including the IOM and
UNHCR in supporting and developing the external dimension of the
EU's migration and asylum policy, but that it required more resources
in order to fulfil its potential.
Kyriacos Triantaphyllides MEP (a member of the European Parliament's
LIBE Committee) was enthusiastic about the impact it had already
made in Greece, stating that within a year of the EASO sending
officials there, the LIBE Committee had noticed a big improvement
in that Member State's detention/holding centres. However, Claude
Moraes MEP suggested that the relatively small size of the EASO
might limit its potential in this regard.
The UNHCR also saw potential in the EASO to support Member States
by providing training to national migration officers and by collating
existing country-of-origin information.
98. We welcome the establishment of the European
Asylum Support Office and look forward to monitoring its progress.
EU asylum policy
99. Beyond the role of the EASO, however, there
was a degree of scepticism about how much progress the GAMM could
make in this area. Claude Moraes MEP and Open Europe remarked
that the GAMM's role in asylum policy (and other areas) was limited
because the EU's involvement created political difficulties for
politicians in Member States. Claude Moraes MEP stated that asylum
policy had "such intimate links with the social bargainthe
bargain between a government and its electorate on immigration
policy. So if you try to outsource it prematurely to the European
Union, I think we may experience a backlash".
Burden sharing and solidarity
100. Many of our witnesses emphasised the importance
of burden sharing. Christopher Chope thought that there was a
very strong case for more EU cooperation in relation to asylum-seekers
Charles Clarke considered that burden sharing should see the wealthier
Member States in the north providing more resources to those in
the south to help them manage the pressures on their borders.
Stefano Manservisi argued that increased support for Greece, Italy
and Spain was necessary because their border authorities were
providing a public service to the rest of the EU.
101. Helen Hibberd, from the Hackney Migrants
Centre, referred to the inequities of the Dublin II Regulation,
under which Italy and Greece were forced to accept the majority
of asylum seekers because they were located on the border of the
EU. However, Charles
Clarke and Christopher Chope did not agree with suggestions that
the Dublin system should be reformed to reallocate asylum applicants
across the EU.
102. Rebecca Crerar and Helen Hibbert both argued
that strong minimum reception conditions were needed for asylum
seekers as otherwise they would continue to try to move to the
same few countries where they knew they were likely to get better
Kirkhope MEP (also a member of the European Parliament's LIBE
Committee) felt that minimum reception conditions for asylum seekers
were all that the GAMM could hope to achieve, while Charles Clarke
and the UNHCR both emphasised the importance of fair and efficient
103. In March 2012 the JHA Council adopted Conclusions
on a common framework for genuine and practical solidarity towards
Member States facing particular pressures on their asylum systems,
including through mixed migration flows.
Regional Protection Programmes
104. The UNCHR told us they saw "particular
opportunities" in the use of Regional Protection Programmes
(RPPs) under the GAMM and noted that they had already assisted
several countries neighbouring the EU or in regions of origin
to build asylum capacity, as well as supporting the UNHCR's own
resettlement operations. Sir Andrew Green and the Government
also acknowledged the potential of RPPs.
Further information about RPPs is provided in Box 4.
Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs)
|Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) are designed
to enhance the capacity of non-EU countries in regions where many
refugees originate or pass through in transit. They aim to improve
refugee protection, through EU financed practical actions, which
can include improving general protection in the host country,
establishing fair and efficient asylum procedures, building capacity
and training on protection issues for those working with refugees,
providing support to regions hosting large refugee populations
and sharing responsibility through resettlement. RPPs are developed
by the Commission in close collaboration with Member States, the
UNHCR, and in partnership with the countries of origin, transit
and first asylum, which receive a far greater percentage of the
world's refugees than the EU does.
The first two RPPs targeted Eastern Europeparticularly
Belarus, Moldova and the Ukraineas a region of transit
and the African Great Lakes Regionparticularly Tanzaniaas
a region of origin. In 2010, the Commission decided to prolong
these two RPPs and to apply the concept to two new regions: the
Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Yemen and Djibouti, and Eastern
North Africa, including Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
105. In October 2012 the JHA Council unanimously
endorsed the Commission's intention to establish an RPP for Syria
and its neighbours in order to alleviate the humanitarian and
refugee crisis in the region. According to the UNHCR more than
350,000 refugees have already left Syria, mostly crossing into
neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
Over 16,000 have entered the EU.
106. We acknowledge the potential of Regional
Protection Programmes to facilitate the GAMM's work in building
capacity in countries of origin and transit. We particularly welcome
the recent establishment of a Regional Protection Programme for
Syria. We encourage the Government to play a proactive role in
their operation and development.
Joint EU Resettlement Programme
107. In March 2012 the JHA Council agreed to
set common EU resettlement priorities for 2013, through the adoption
of a Joint EU Resettlement Programme, as well as new rules regarding
the financial support that Member States receive from the European
Refugee Fund (ERF) for the resettlement of refugees from third
information about this programme is set out in Box 5.
Joint EU Resettlement Programme
|The Joint EU Resettlement Programme is a voluntary
and flexible scheme, which aims to ensure that resettlement activity
in the EU can be increased by improving Member States' understanding
and experience of resettlement and their capacity to resettle
refugees from third countries. Under the scheme the UNHCR is responsible
for an annual priority-setting exercise for the resettlement of
refugees of particular nationalities or from certain regions that
are judged as especially vulnerable depending upon the global
circumstances of the time. These priorities are finalised after
consulting other expert NGOs, Member States and the European Parliament.
The EASO will have a role in promoting resettlement in the context
of the Asylum and Migration Fund during the period 2014 to 2020.
According to the UNHCR, twelve EU Member States currently
run resettlement programmes, together contributing to less than
8 per cent of the annual resettlement places on offer around the
world. Up to 80,000 refugees are resettled every year. Most go
to the United States, Canada and Australia, while Europe takes
in some 5,000 refugees.
108. The UNHCR welcomed the funding made available
to undertake resettlement referrals but noted the need for an
increase in the number of resettlement places offered by Member
States, as they had been reticent about offering "significant"
places for refugees from RPP countries.
109. The Government already operates a unilateral
resettlement programme called the Gateway Protection Programme,
which allows up to 750 refugees to settle in the United Kingdom
each year. It is operated by the UKBA in partnership with the
UNHCR. The system operates separately from the standard domestic
asylum application process and currently receives 50 per cent
of its funding from the ERF. In their written evidence the Government
affirmed their support for resettlement in principle, including
the Gateway Protection Programme and the proposed Asylum and Migration
Fund, which included resettlement as an objective, and which they
had decided to opt in. However, they disagreed with the GAMM's
call for a "more strategic use" of resettlement if this
meant giving the EU competence to set priorities and instead believed
that resettlement should remain purely voluntary, with Member
States retaining responsibility for deciding the total number
of people they wished to resettle and from which particular countries.
110. We recommend that the EU should aim to
accept more resettlement refugees under the Regional Protection
Programmes as part of their ongoing dialogue and cooperation with
111. We commend the Government's ongoing commitment
to resettlement through its Gateway Protection Programme and endorse
its support for the establishment of the joint EU resettlement
122 GAMM, p. 6 Back
UNHCR, UK Government Back
Q 347. The ICMPD is an NGO which was established during the Balkan
wars in 1993. All of its member states are European but not all
are members of the EU. It concentrates on capacity building, facilitating
dialogue between the EU and third countries and research. It is
based in Vienna and its biggest donor is the Commission, with
its members providing the remaining funding. Back
Q 145, Q 315 Back
The EASO's role is to coordinate exchanges of information relating
to the external dimension of the CEAS; to coordinate actions regarding
resettlement; and to cooperate with third countries on technical
matters, including capacity building. It is based in Malta and
began its operations in 2011. Back
Q 334 Back
Q 397 Back
Q 103 Back
Q 208. Back
Q 158 Back
Q 320 Back
Q 88 Back
Q 158, Q 207 Back
Q 68 Back
QQ 161-162, UNHCR Back
Council Document No 7485/12 Back
Q 208, UK Government Back
3195th Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, 25-26 October
Council Document No 6838/12. The ERF will be absorbed by the Asylum
and Migration Fund in due course. Under the revised ERF, Member
States will be entitled to receive a lump sum of 4000 for
each person resettled according to agreed priorities. Back
UK Government Back