Qualification Directive

14 February 2014

The recast Qualification Directive which sets out standards as to who qualifies as a beneficiary of international protection and the content of protection granted is a central legislative instrument in the establishment of a Common European Asylum System. In 2011 the EU adopted the recast Qualification Directive which applies to all EU Member States with the exception of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Ireland and the United Kingdom will continue to be bound by Directive 2004/83/EC.

The recast Directive constitutes an important step forward in harmonizing eligibility criteria and the content of protection at EU level. However, depending on its interpretation and application, the recast Directive may still allow for gaps in the protection of applicants and beneficiaries of international protection.

Therefore, ECRE published in October 2013 an Information Note on the recast Qualification Directive This note provides information on how to transpose and implement the recast Qualification Directive in a manner which ensures full consistency with international human rights and refugee law.

The note focuses not only on areas of amendment but also areas which ECRE remains concerned about in applying this Directive which were not addressed in the recast process. ECRE has also called for Member States to engage in dialogue with NGO's and civil society in a transparent and inclusive manner when transposing and implementing this recast Directive.

Member States bound by the Directive are required to bring into force domestic legislation necessary to comply with it by 21 December 2013.

Policy PapersECRE Information Note on the Qualification Directive (recast)
ECRE Comments on the Commission Proposal to Recast the Qualification Directive


ECRE's position

► Any rights afforded to refugees should also be granted to all persons under subsidiary protection, as both categories of protected persons have similar needs and circumstances.

► ECRE welcomes the recognition of child-specific and gender-specific forms of persecution and provisions aimed specifically at the needs of persons with special needs (see also our section on Vulnerable groups)

► Member States should assess asylum applications in keeping with a full and inclusive application of international refugee and asylum law, while using the new European subsidiary protection status to extend protection to those in need of it who fall outside the refugee definition.


Background information

The 1951 Refugee Convention envisages protection for any person unable to return to his/her country due to "a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."

Even where this standard is not met, European states may not return individuals in breach of international obligations such as the absolute prohibitions on torture, execution or inhuman or degrading treatment contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

However, a person's chances of being granted asylum still vary hugely according to the country where the asylum seeker has his or her asylum claim processed. For example, in 2012, 59.1% of Afghans who fled their home country and ended up in Belgium have been recognised as refugees at first instance, for only 6.8% of those who applied for asylum in Greece.

To harmonize the way Member States provide refugee protection, and to require Member States to provide "subsidiary protection" to people at risk of serious harm, the EU introduced the Qualification Directive, which sets minimum rights that persons qualifying for international protection should receive.

First phase

In April 2004 the EU introduced the first Qualification Directive, one of five legal instruments that make up the EU acquis (body of law) on asylum. The Directive, which applies to all Member States except Denmark, came into force in October 2006.

The Qualification Directive has raised standards by for an example introducing a European subsidiary protection and by requiring the recognition of non-state actors of persecution, but in many other respects it has encouraged Members States to lower their standards.

Policy PapersECRE Information Note on the Council Directive on Minimum Standards for the Qualification of Third Country Nationals
Comments on the Proposal for a Directive on Minimum Standards for the Qualification and Status of Third Country Nationals


Related Reports & Position Papers

The Impact of the EU Qualification Directive on International Protection
Survey on Subsidiary/Complementary Forms of Protection in EU Member States
ECRE's Position on Exclusion Clauses from Refugee Status
ECRE's Position on the Interpretation of Article 1 of the Refugee Convention
ECRE's Position on Complementary Protection