The European Commission adopted Thursday eight infringement decisions for failing to fully transpose and implement the Common European Asylum System. The decisions concern Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta and Hungary.
According to the European Commission, today’s measures follow the 40 decisions launched on September 23, 2015, in addition to the 34 already pending cases, on potential or actual infringements of EU asylum legislation. The Commission said it will continue to pursue infringement procedures swiftly and effectively to ensure full compliance with EU legislation in this area.
The Commission urged Greece, Croatia and Italy to correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation, which provides for effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and transmission of data to the Eurodac central system within 72 hours. Effective implementation of the Eurodac Regulation is essential for the functioning of the Dublin system and EU relocation schemes. The European Commission said it sent administrative letters to Greece, Croatia and Italy in October. Two months later, concerns have not been effectively addressed. The European Commission has therefore decided Thursday to send Letters of Formal Notice to Greece, Croatia and Italy (the first step of an infringement procedure).
The Eurodac database was established in 2003 and is an EU asylum fingerprint database. When someone applies for asylum or is apprehended having crossed an external border irregularly from a third country their fingerprints are taken and transmitted to the Eurodac central system. The recast Eurodac Regulation entered into force on July 20, 2015 and introduced updates to the system, in particular to ensure data is transmitted within 72 hours to the Central System, to address data protection concerns and to help combat terrorism and serious crime.
The Commission is also urging Greece and Malta to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive, which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive, which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications.
The Commission said that Greece and Malta have not communicated the necessary transposition measures. Letters of Formal Notice were sent on September 23, 2015 to Greece, Malta and 16 other Member States concerning the Asylum Procedures Directive. Letters of Formal Notice were also sent to Greece, Malta and 17 other Member States on the same date concerning the Reception Conditions Directive. Despite these letters, Greece and Malta have not yet notified the Commission of their transposition measures. Therefore the Commission has decided to address ‘Reasoned Opinions’ to both Member States concerning both Directives.
The Asylum Procedures Directive establishes rules on the process of claiming asylum, including on how to apply, how the application will be examined, what help the asylum seeker will be given, how to appeal or how to deal with repeated applications. It applies to all applications for international protection made in the territory, including at the border, in the territorial waters or in the transit zones of the Member States. Member States were under an obligation to transpose this Directive and communicate their transposition measures by July 20, 2015 (with the exception of Article 31(3), (4) and (5) for which the transposition deadline is July 20, 2018).
Letters of formal notice are the first formal step of an infringement procedure. After receiving a letter of formal notice, Member States have two months to reply and in cases of non-communication have to notify their national transposition measures to the Commission. In the absence of satisfactory replies or of notification of national measures, the European Commission can decide to send reasoned opinions, the second step in an infringement proceeding.
After Member States receive reasoned opinions, they have two months to respond to the Commission, notifying the measures taken to ensure full transposition or bring national legislation in line with EU law. If they fail to do so, the Commission may decide to refer the Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU. In cases where there is no communication of the national transposition measures, the Commission may propose to the Court of Justice of the EU to impose financial sanctions.