EU proposes exemption from asylum law to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia

EU countries bordering Belarus to be allowed significant derogation from international law, creating designated asylum registration points

Agnes Szucs   | 01.12.2021
EU proposes exemption from asylum law to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia


The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to grant a temporary exemption under EU asylum law to Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia in response to the migrant crisis at the bloc’s borders with Belarus.

The EU executive body has presented a legal draft that exempts the three EU countries bordering Belarus from a part of its obligations on asylum law enshrined in EU legislation and international treaties as well.

Under the new rules, valid for six months with a possibility to extend, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia will be able to keep the asylum-seekers in the no man’s land between their borders with Belarus for up to four weeks.

The draft, available on the EU's official website, allows member states “to register an asylum application and offer the possibility for its effective lodging only at specific registration points located at the vicinity of the border, including the border crossing points designated for that purpose.”

This means a significant derogation from international law since asylum-seekers will not be able to submit their claim for international protection anywhere. Instead, they will have to walk to the designated registration points and processing centers.

In these makeshift processing camps, the EU institution will only require the countries to provide basic humanitarian needs, such as temporary shelter adapted to seasonal weather conditions, food, water, clothing, adequate medical care, and assistance to vulnerable people.

The EU also authorizes the three states to delay the registration of asylum claims to four weeks up from the standard 10 days deadline.

Also, Polish, Latvian, and Lithuanian authorities will be able to carry out fast border procedures to determine the admissibility of the asylum claim.

According to human rights watchdogs, this procedural risks immediately end up in rejection and return decisions for those classified as, for example, economic migrants, and so deprive them of the chance to prove their need for international protection based on individual circumstances.

EU member states have yet to approve the proposal by a qualified majority.

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