Breakthrough deal reached on EU Reception Conditions Directive
- Protection of unaccompanied minors strengthened, children to have access to education early on
- Access to labour market made easier, language courses to facilitate integration
- Provisions for persons with special needs: women, LGBTI people & religious minorities
- Incentives for secondary movements are minimised
Today the negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement revising the Reception Condition Directive (RCD), part of the revision of the Common European Asylum System. The RCD aims to harmonise reception conditions, with a view to improving standards and reducing secondary movements of applicants for international protection. The compromise reached reflects many elements from the position of the European Parliament.
A crucial part of the deal was strengthening the protection of children, with the best interest of the child always being the main consideration. Unaccompanied minors will be assigned a representative or provisional representative immediately. Children will get education in the regular school system as quickly as possible, no later than 2 months after arrival. As a rule, minors cannot be detained, although exceptions exist for reasons of family unity or where safeguarding the minor. This shall never be in prisons and always in special care arrangements for children.
Language courses from day one and quick access to the labour market will considerably improve applicants’ chances of autonomy and integration, and contribute to their wellbeing. Provisions for persons with special needs, including LGBTI people and religious minorities and non-believers, have been considerably strengthened. The special needs assessment will take place within the first 30 days.
Applicants will be entitled to the full package health care, including mental health care and sexual and reproductive health care. This will greatly improve the situation of women and persons with war traumas.
The Directive provides for measures restricting the freedom of applicants for purposes relating to the organisation of the reception systems, such as geographical restrictions. It furthermore contains restrictive and repressive measures, although under quick judicial review and with free legal assistance. It is moreover made clear that the authorities must show the utmost restraint in applying any restrictive or repressive measures.
The European Parliament's rapporteur Sophie in 't Veld MEP (ALDE / D66) said:
"People are fleeing from violence and conflict across the world. Simply closing our eyes and covering our ears won't make this reality disappear. We can handle these refugee flows only if we act together. With today's breakthrough deal we are one step closer to an effective and humane European asylum policy.
Although there were substantial differences between the positions of Parliament and the Member States, all parties concerned worked constructively towards common solutions. We are very pleased that just days before World Refugee Day on June 20th, we have concluded our talks and demonstrated that the EU is able to reach agreement on issues as sensitive and complex as asylum and migration policies."
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Note to the editors: The agreement requires final approval by both Parliament and Council, the directive will enter into force two years after formal adoption.