On 16th April, the EU Commission adopted a guidance for Member States on the implementation of relevant EU provisions in the area of asylum, return procedures and on resettlement in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
Prepared in collaboration with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the guidance was compiled in response to requests for advice by Member States on how to ensure continuity of procedures while at the same time fully ensuring the protection of people’s health and fundamental rights in line with the EU Charter.
The guidance offers practical guidance for Member States and identifies tools, including emerging best practices, on how to continue asylum, return and resettlement-related activities in the current crisis. At the same time, it recalls the fundamental principles that must continue to apply so that access to asylum procedures across the EU continues can continue as much as possible during the crisis.
In terms of asylum, the guidance explains that registration and processing of applications should continue with maximum flexibility permitted in terms of deadlines, personal interviews should continue using video-conferencing technology where possible and that conditions for quarantine and isolation must be reasonable.
Regarding return, the guidance explains that work on return procedures to third countries should continue as much as possible and that Member States, with the support of Frontex, should be ready to resume return procedures when the disruption caused by the restrictive measures comes to an end.
The Commission encourages Member States to continue preparatory activities in the area of resettlement so that when restrictions end resettlement operations can be smoothly resumed.
To read the EU Commission Communication, click here.