Urgent appeal to European governments

ahead of Laeken summit



Date: 6/12/0


Ahead of this week's European summit in Laeken, 73 European refugee NGOs and leading public figures, such as Isabelle Allende, Martti Ahtisaari and Wilfried Martens, are calling on the EU Governments to put into practice their commitment to human rights and asylum.


Two years down the road, we are still far from the goal of a common asylum system based on protection and international refugee and human rights, as agreed at special summit Tampere, Finland in October 1999.


The negotiations on minimum standards on asylum policy are bogged down, due to a lack of political will to think European. Governments are competing to impose their national systems on the rest of Europe.  Almost all EU member states have amended their national laws in the last two years, apparently oblivious to the wider European process.


While the language of the Member States collectively respects the need for protection of refugees, the focus of some governments has been on deterrence.  ECRE fears that the EU risks incorporating the worst aspects of national asylum systems and legitimising them as European 'standards'.


The recent events of September 11th raise further concerns that governments are hurrying through legislation, which may further erode the rights of refugees.





ECRE General Secretary Peer Baneke, said:


"The Laeken summit offers a golden opportunity to give real momentum to the asylum debate. If responsibility for refugees is to be fairly shared between Member States, European leaders must commit to placing the protection of refugees, rather than deterrence, at the core of a common asylum policy. The future asylum system must not be founded on the lowest common denominator, but on best practice from across Europe and must bridge the gaps between national policies."





Press contacts:

Peer Baneke 0044/207/7295152-205, mobile 0044/7808295613

Irene Donadio 0032/2/5145939, mobile  0497427421







 ECRE is organizing a high profile meeting on Monday December 10 to contribute to the debate ahead of Laeken.


The meeting EUROPE & REFUGEES, Freedom Security and Justice? will be held from 9 Am to 1 PM at the Theatre Residence Palace, rue de la Loi 155, Brussels.


Speakers include Mr. Eddy Boutmans, State Secretary for Cooperation and Development, Belgium government, Mr. Gustaaf Borchardt, Director of DG Justice and Home Affairs, European Commission, Mr. Aminullah Habibi, refugee from Afghanistan.