In the light of recent challenges facing Member States with regards to persons seeking asylum as well as procedures related to resettlement in the context of the current pandemic, the EU has issued guidance intended to provide ways to ensure the continuity of procedures and the respect of, at a minimum, basic rights.
The Commission said that it fully acknowledges the difficulties that in the current context Member States face when implementing relevant EU rules in this regard. Any measure taken in the area of asylum, resettlement and return should also take full account of the health protection measures introduced by the Member States on their territories to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Guidance illustrates how to ensure continuity of procedures as much as possible while fully ensuring the protection of people’s health and fundamental rights in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the same time, it recalls the fundamental principles that must continue to apply, so that access to the asylum procedure continues to the greatest extent possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, all applications for international protection must be registered and processed, even if with certain delays. Emergency and essential treatment of illness, including for COVID-19, must be ensured.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “While our way of life may have changed drastically in the past weeks – our values and principles must not.”
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Even in a health emergency, we need to guarantee individual fundamental rights. Any measure taken in the area of asylum, resettlement and return should also take full account of the health protection measures introduced by the Member States to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
The guidance was prepared with the support of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), and in cooperation with national authorities.
The full guidance is available via the European Commission.
Meanwhile Politico reports that The interior ministers of Germany, France, Spain and Italy have issued a joint proposal aimed at unlocking an EU-wide compromise on the combustible issue of asylum.