Reception Conditions

Reception conditions constitute the material support offered to asylum seekers while they await a decision on their applications. Such support usually includes food, housing, education, health care, language training and access to employment.

Asylum seekers may have recently escaped from traumatic experiences, sometimes involving the disappearance or death of family members and friends, torture or armed conflicts. Upon arrival they generally need rest, space and respect. Reception facilities should therefore seek to meet these needs. Adequate conditions of reception are also essential to the functioning of a fair and efficient procedure, as they allow asylum seekers to have a dignified standard of living while they are awaiting a decision on their applications.

EU Rules

In January 2003, the European Union adopted a Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers in the Member States. ECRE considers that the Directive has contributed to strengthening the legal framework of national reception practices, particularly in those countries with under-developed reception systems.

Nevertheless, Member States have sometimes used the ambiguity of some of the Directive's provisions to derogate from their obligations concerning reception conditions. As a result, in many countries asylum seekers are not provided with an adequate standard of living in terms of acceptable housing and sufficient financial allowances to cover their basic needs. They also face significant legal and practical obstacles to access employment, education and health care. ECRE regards the Proposal to recast the Directive put forward by the Commission in December 2008 as an opportunity to address these flaws (read ECRE Comments on the Proposal). Because of the stall in the negotiations on the 2008 proposal as initially drafted, the Commission presented on 1 June 2011 a new amended proposal recasting the Reception Conditions Directive that should boost the work to achieve Common European Asylum System.

ECRE's position

► An adequate reception policy should prepare persons seeking asylum simultaneously for either return to their country of origin or integration into the host society.

► Basic reception conditions should be offered from the moment an asylum seeker arrives to the country of destination until a final decision has been made.

► Where another State is deemed to be responsible for the examination of the asylum application under the Dublin Regulation the period of reception extends until the moment of departure to that State.

► Asylum seekers should be in a position to have control over their own daily lives, be as self-sufficient as possible and encouraged to contribute to the host community, irrespective of the length of their stay. To this end, they should be allowed to work within a maximum period of six months from the moment they lodge their applications.

► While reception should first and foremost be a responsibility of the host state, civil society can also provide support during the reception process.


Policy Papers » ECRE report: Using the Charter of Fundamental Rights to improve reception and detention standards
» An examination of the Reception Conditions Directive and its recast in light of Article 41 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
» ECRE Comments and Recommendations on the Amended Commission Proposal to recast the Reception Conditions Directive (COM(2011) 320 final)
» Comments on the European Commission Proposal to recast the Reception Conditions Directive
» Reception Directive: ECRE's proposals for Revisions
The Way Forward: 'Towards the Integration of Refugees in Europe'
» ECRE Report on Whether Asylum Seekers are Receiving Material Support and Access to Employment in Accordance with EU Legislation
» ECRE Information Note on the Council Directive on Minimum Standards for the Reception of Asylum Seekers
» Position on Reception of Aslum Seekers

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Reception Conditions


Related news

► 21.10.2011 Interview with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen about the reception crisis in Belgium

► 27.05.2008 ECRE calls on EU to revise the Reception Directive

► 30.01.2007 No Equal Opportunities for refugees in the European Year of Equal Opportunities

ECRE Actions

► 29.11.2013 ECRE/ELENA Information Note on Syria
► 26.02.2013 ECRE Letter to Commissioner Malmstrom regarding transfer of competences in Greece
► 23.11.2012 Op-ed by Liz Fekete, Executive Director of the Institute of Race Relations
► 07.05.2012 166 NGOs call on the EU institutions to respect asylum seekers' right to liberty in EU asylum legislation