EU Agrees Asylum Rules
EU justice and home affairs ministers have agreed on common procedures for dealing with asylum seekers.
Under the agreement, which was reached by EU justice and home affairs ministers on Thursday, asylum seekers may be deported upon arrival without a detailed investigation of their claim -- but only if they can be sent back to transit countries that are considered safe. EU Justice Commissioner Antonio Vitorino said the agreement assures "a minimum level of protection and procedural safeguards in all member states for those who are genuinely in need of international protection." The deal is less ambitious than the original proposals, and Vitorino admitted it's likely to attract criticism from human rights groups. Efforts to find a common EU asylum policy had been dragging on for three years. German Interior Minister Otto Schily said he was satisfied with the result. "For us it was important that the transit state rule that has been practiced successfully here be maintained," he said. "It is an important step to avoid asylum shopping," he added, referring to previous differences in national policies that saw candidate refugees going to the EU country with the best conditions.