CEAS Overview

Migration is one of the key challenges facing the world in the 21st century. Refugees, asylum seekers and those in need of international protection form a core part of this challenge and finding appropriate, human-rights compliant methods of managing this phenomenon is, and must be, a central political and legal concern.

Europe has a long history of sheltering those seeking refuge – not least during World War II – and the last couple of years have been no different. According to the European Commission’s 3rd Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum, in 2011 there was an increase of 15% in new asylum applications in the European Union (EU), amounting to 277,400 applications[1].

The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is based on the full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and the New York Protocol of 1967. It seeks to address needs which have arisen from, among other things, the processes flowing from the Schengen Agreement, the relaxing of borders within the EU, the resultant need for agreement on the regulation of the EU’s external borders and the gradual expansion of EU powers to create an ‘Area of freedom, security and justice’ grounded in the Tampere Program (1999 – 2004).

In addition to specialised legislation facilitating the development and functioning of the various EU structures which support the CEAS, the legislative framework of the CEAS lies in the following Regulations and Directives:

  • The Qualification Directive;
  • The Asylum Procedures Directive;
  • The Receptions Conditions Directive; and
  • The Dublin II Regulation.

These instruments apply to the entire EU with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark whose participation is optional by way of opt-in provisions.

[1]http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/pdf/easo_annual_report_final.pdf at p.10