Efficient Examination or Restricted Access to Protection?
VEDSTED-HANSEN, Jens/ December 2020
As one of the novelties in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and its accompanying legislative package, the European Commission has proposed to establish a ‘seamless procedure’ at external borders that will be applicable to all non-EU citizens crossing the borders without authorisation. In its entirety, the border procedure will comprise three elements: pre-entry screening, an asylum procedure and a ‘swift return procedure’ where applicable. The overall aim is explained as being to ‘close the gaps between external border controls and asylum and return procedures’ (p. 4, section 2.1).
The pre-entry screening will be established under a separate Proposal for a Screening Regulation that was presented by the Commission on 23 September 2020 as part of the legislative package linked to the EU Pact. In addition, the asylum border procedure aimed at examining asylum applications and the return border procedure for carrying out return of asylum seekers whose application has been rejected in the asylum border procedure are dealt with in the Amended Proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation, simultaneously launched in order to change the 2016 Proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation.
While this blogpost shall focus on the latter two proposals that must be seen in conjunction, these procedural devices should be considered in the light of the proposed pre-entry screening. This screening will necessarily interact with the asylum and return procedures at external borders, as described by Lyra Jakuleviciene in her contribution to the series. It should be stressed from the outset that ‘closing the gap’ by way of clarifying the need to issue a return decision immediately after a decision rejecting an application for asylum, or even in the same decision, in order to secure quick return of asylum seekers upon rejection, is in and of itself clearly a useful step, as already proposed by the Commission in the 2018 Proposal for a Recast Return Directive.