Today the European Parliament has voted for reforms to the Dublin system that would dramatically improve the experiences of asylum seekers in Europe.

GUE/NGL Shadow Rapporteur, Cornelia Ernst, explains: “The text adopted today is the most ambitious parliamentary position ever decided on the sharing of responsibilities among member states for examining asylum applications. We have succeeded in removing the principle whereby the first EU member state that an asylum seeker enters is responsible for processing their application for asylum.”

For too long, this principle has placed an overwhelming and unreasonable amount of responsibility on member states such as Greece and Italy where the vast majority of asylum seekers first enter the EU. It has also left thousands of asylum seekers waiting for months or even years for their asylum applications to be processed and to be reunited with their families.

“Under the changes, following their reception in the first member state where they enter the EU, asylum seekers would be assessed against criteria such as whether they have a family or other connections to an EU member state. Those who meet the criteria would be sent directly to that member state which would be responsible for the asylum process.

“In addition, we were able to remove the obligation proposed by the European Commission to examine whether asylum-seekers can be sent back to a ‘safe third country’ or to a ‘first country of asylum’, even when they had family members in the EU.

“With these changes, we are laying the groundwork for a dignified reception system for asylum seekers between the member states.

“Unfortunately, reaching such a progressive position in the European Parliament is only half the battle. Now the governments of the member states in the Council of the European Union must decide whether we can finally make substantial improvements to the unacceptable status quo for asylum seekers.

“The Council has not yet agreed on a position and continues to delay the process, which cannot be tolerated!” concludes Ernst.

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