The Croatian and German Presidencies of the European Union in 2020 present opportunities to improve refugee protection, primarily by reforming the asylum system and providing greater support to the countries where most refugees live, the United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday on the occasion of the start of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU.
“The Presidencies and the envisaged Pact on Migration and Asylum present unique opportunities to better protect forcibly displaced and stateless people in Europe and abroad, while supporting host countries,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its recommendations for the Croatian and German presidencies of the Council of the EU this year.
“As we enter a new decade, and following the success of the Global Refugee Forum, the EU under its Presidencies has the chance to make 2020 the year of change for robust refugee protection,” said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for EU Affairs.
UNHCR’s recommendations propose a truly common and workable asylum system within the EU through sustainable reform and revitalised financial support for countries hosting forcibly displaced people outside the EU, the UN agency said in a statement.
“Inside the EU, fair and fast asylum procedures need to be established to quickly determine who needs international protection and who does not. People eligible for protection should quickly be granted status and receive support for integration. Those not eligible to any form of protection should be assisted in their return.
“Responsibility-sharing with EU Member States receiving a disproportionate number of asylum claims is also needed to ensure a truly common and workable asylum system. UNHCR is encouraging the Presidencies to advance work on an effective solidarity mechanism, including through relocation arrangements, with family unity prioritized,” the statement said.
“The pre-accession process provides opportunities to support countries in the Western Balkans in terms of further developing their asylum systems. UNHCR remains ready to continue to work with the EU institutions and Agencies in the further development of protection-sensitive border management, fair and efficient asylum procedures and first reception capacity, ensure a consistent regional approach to registration, strengthen access to fundamental rights and services, as well as expand integration opportunities,” the UN refugee agency said.
“With 85 percent of the world’s refugees hosted in neighbouring and developing countries, revitalized financial support is also needed,” UNHCR warned and proposed that the Presidencies “ensure increased and diversified funding, including for development cooperation funding, to further support host countries and help forcibly displaced people rebuild their lives.”
“The next EU budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027) is a key opportunity for the EU to demonstrate global solidarity towards forcibly displaced people and their hosts,” it added.
UNHCR concluded by saying it remains ready to support the Croatian and German Presidencies, the EU, and its Member States as they work to enhance solidarity with refugees and the countries hosting them in the EU and globally.