EU seeks to streamline asylum rules, open door for refugees long-term

The European Union's executive unveiled measures Wednesday to streamline conditions for would-be refugees across the bloc and prevent so-called asylum shopping, while also proposing a permanent system to take in refugees from outside the bloc.

The measures are part of an overhaul of EU asylum rules outlined a year ago - in part to prevent people from targeting states considered to be more generous to refugees - as migration flows into Europe were on the rise.

More than 1 million people reached the continent last year, stretching capacities in countries of arrival - notably Greece - and in the wealthy states most were aiming to reach, while also testing unity within the 28-country EU.

The EU needs an asylum system based on "solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibilities," said European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. Under EU rules, asylum seekers are supposed to apply for protection in the member state they first reach.

The proposals would harmonize national rules, notably cutting the waiting time and standardizing decisions on asylum applications, cracking down on people who abuse the system and making it easier to deport those who do not qualify for protection.

The EU's executive also proposed a permanent system to take in refuges from outside the bloc, under which member states would agree on annual resettlement figures and receive 10,000 euros for each person accepted through the scheme.

A year ago, EU member states agreed to take in more than 22,000 refugees from outside the bloc over a 24-month period. By mid-June, 7,272 people had benefited from the scheme, which aims in part to destroy the business model of migrant smugglers.

Last update: Wed, 13/07/2016 - 12:44

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