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Council of the European Union
"Safe countries" concept
- "As regards Turkey, the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out that the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including ratification of all major international human rights treaties. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened."
29.5.18
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The Council is discussing its "safe countries concept" which includes:

- the safe third country
- the first country of asylum
- safe country of origin

See: Reform of the Common European Asylum System - The safe countries concept = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 8735-18, pdf):

"Significant progress has been made in clarifying these concepts and the latest Presidency compromise proposals have been generally supported by Member States. As regards the EU list of safe third countries, the latest Presidency compromise provides that it is to be adopted via a Regulation modifying the Asylum Procedure Regulation (Article 46(1)) and that national lists may continue to exist in parallel (a sunset clause for such lists existed in the original Commission proposal). [emphasis added throughout]

The Annex to the Commission proposal listing the safe third countries of origin was bracketed and the Council requested an expert contribution from the EASO to facilitate its assessment and to allow it to take a position on the countries listed in the Annex.(...)

the latest Presidency compromise proposals provide that national lists for safe countries of origin may continue to exist in parallel (a sunset clause for such lists existed in the original Commission proposal).(...)

List of safe countries of origin

The Presidency compromise proposals on all provisions regarding the safe countries concepts were discussed within the Asylum Working Party and at JHA Counsellors level. However, the content of the Annex to the Commission proposal was never discussed.

The proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out the criteria which will be taken into account when assessing whether a third country may be designated as a safe country of origin (Article 47)."

In November 2016 EASO (European Asylum Support Office) presented reports on all the countries listed in the Commission's Annex. See: EASO safe third country reports (link). The countries are:

- Afghanistan
- Bangladesh
- Eritrea
- Iraq
- Nigeria
- Pakistan
- Russian Federation
- Gambia
- Turkey
- Western Balkans

The Council report goes on to say:

"Some key indicators for assessing whether a third country may be designated as a safe country of origin may include an extremely low recognition rate, candidacy for EU membership, membership of the ECHR, a visa liberalisation regime, a relationship with Member States and the existence of diplomatic representations, push factors which are in general not asylum-related, etc.(...)"

In the Council see: 8735-COR-1-18 (LIMITE doc, pdf):

"On page 4, the first paragraph of document 8735/18 INIT should read as follows:

'Following the conclusions of the JHA Council meeting on 20 July 2015, at which Member States agreed that priority should be given to an assessment by all Member States of the safety of the Western Balkans, the EASO organised an expert-level meeting with the Member States on 2 September 2015, where a broad consensus was reached that Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia should be considered safe countries of origin (recital 53 of the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation).'"

When it comes to Turkey the Council's conclusions are questionable:

"As regards Turkey, the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out that the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including ratification of all major international human rights treaties. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened."

Being a "candidate country" where negotiation have been stalled for years because of concern over human rights, freedom of the press, freedom to demonstrate, discrimination, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and implementation of international treaties means very little.

List of safe third countries

"As regards the concept of safe third countries, the Commission proposes a harmonised EU approach to its use so as to guarantee that it is applied in the same manner in all Member States, and proposes that safe third countries should be designated at Union level through a future amendment to the Asylum Procedure Regulation and after carrying out a detailed, evidence-based assessment involving substantive research and broad consultation with Member States and relevant stakeholders (Article 46)."

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