Skip to main content

European Union Opt In Decision: Asylum Measures

Volume 618: debated on Friday 16 December 2016

The Government have decided not to opt in to the new EU proposals for a Qualification regulation, an Asylum Procedures regulation and a recast Reception Conditions Directive. The proposals reform the package of asylum directives adopted between 2011-2013 as part of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

The UK chose not to participate in the corresponding second phase CEAS instruments due to concerns over the limits they would place on our national system. As a result the UK remains bound by the directives adopted as part of the first phase of the CEAS: the Reception Conditions Directive 2003/9/EC; the Qualification Directive 2004/83/EC; and the Asylum Procedures Directive 2005/85/EC. These directives established minimum standards and allowed member states a large degree of flexibility in implementation.

There is some merit in the new proposals, for example the overarching aim of discouraging abuse and unwarranted secondary movements. However, the Government’s view is that decisions on asylum systems are best taken at national level. The proposals, in particular where replacing the use of a Directive with a regulation in the case of the proposals on Qualification and Asylum Procedures, would further limit the Government’s ability to take decisions on the UK asylum system at national level and in the UK national interest. There is no reason to change the approach from that taken with regard to the corresponding second phase CEAS measures. Therefore, the UK will not opt in to the proposals.

Until the UK leaves the EU, it remains a full member, and the Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting our civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.