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Asylum seekers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for asylum seekers.

Since 2014, Europe has seen a mass movement of people arriving at its borders. Many of them are asylum seekers who are fleeing war, instability or persecution in their countries.


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While national authorities decide on who is recognised as a refugee and offered protection, the EU sets out a number of conditions that all EU countries must respect during this process. These include adequate reception conditions, processing times for asylum applications and safeguards for vulnerable applicants. EU rules require countries to give asylum seekers the chance to work after six months in a country, and ensure the right to an education for underage asylum seekers.

Language training for refugees in a German camp: A female German volunteer is teaching young African (Gambia) and Arabic (Algeria and Tunesia) men the German language in a refugee camp quickly errected using accomodation containers. Over 1 million refugees arrived in Germany in 2015 alone, integration of these people requires enormous efforts by the government but also by thousands of volunteers providing basic training and services for the refugees.

© Frank Gärtner / Fotolia

Those common standards were, however, undermined by exceptionally high migratory flows, especially in 2015. This put a strain on some countries’ reception capacities, and prompted calls to make the EU asylum system more responsive, effective and fair.

As a first step, the EU set up a temporary relocation system to distribute asylum seekers more evenly between all EU countries. The EU provides funding for relocation and monitors progress closely. The EU also set up ‘hot spots’ – operational centres along the main entry points – where staff from EU border and asylum agencies help local authorities to register and instruct arriving asylum seekers.

Since 2016, the EU is working on simplifying the rules and reducing differences between EU countries’ approaches to asylum.

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