“We, the Member States, the Commission and European Parliament have not reached our goals of further harmonisation and substantially raising the standard of protection”, Harke Heida, Director of the Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands said, opening the European Migration Network’s conference on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) that took place last April.
Speakers from the European Parliament, national ministries, EASO and NGOs discussed whether the CEAS has reached its goal of ensuring access to a quality uniform asylum system throughout Europe, with a particular focus on the Qualification and Reception Conditions Directives. Maria Hennessy, ECRE’s Senior Legal Officer, reminded participants that decision makers must be aware of and apply the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Court rulings in this field to ensure compliance with fundamental rights. Furthermore, a comparison between applications of the Directives within the national legal systems of the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and Poland shows how national constraints and differing interpretations of the asylum instruments impede the goals of harmonised asylum practices and common improved protection standards.
Despite some speakers’ assertions that countries need flexibility in their application of asylum instruments according to the particular challenges they face, most agreed that future efforts should focus on measures such as practical cooperation and an exchange of best practices to ensure harmonised practices on the ground.