Committee urge Government to opt in to new asylum directives

04 December 2009

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs publishes its report today into the scrutiny of opt-in decisions on asylum directives. This is the first report from the Committee since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Its report considers two recent Commission proposals for changes in the Common European Asylum System and recommends that the Government opt in to both of them. The proposals relate to qualification for asylum and minimum standards for the procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection. The proposals will only apply to the UK if the Government opt in.

The Committee urge the Government to opt in to the proposed second-phase Qualification Directive, which would create a uniform status for those qualifying as refugees and beneficiaries of international protection by removing Member States’ discretion to limit the rights available to the latter category.

If the Government does not opt in they may find themselves, for example, applying a narrower definition of “family members” than that which is being used in the rest of the EU.

Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the UK opt-in is of increasing importance. The Government undertook that, when the Treaty came into force, they would make time for such reports to be debated well before the 3 month deadline for opting in expires.

This is the first opportunity to test whether the Government are serious about their undertaking. If they are, time will have to be found for this debate before the House rises for the Christmas recess.

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