The Laeken conclusions on asylum


‘The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the policy guidelines and objectives defined at Tampere and notes that while some progress has been made, there is a need for new impetus and guidelines to make up for delays in some areas. Holding Justice and Home Affairs sessions at shorter intervals will help speed work up. It is also important that decisions taken by the Union be transposed speedily into national legal systems and that conventions concluded since the Maastricht Treaty came into force be ratified as soon as possible.

A true common asylum and immigration policy. Despite some achievements such as the European Refugee Fund, the Eurodac Regulation and the Directive on temporary protection, progress has been slower and less substantial than expected. A new approach is therefore needed.


The European Council undertakes to adopt, on the basis of the Tampere conclusions and as soon as possible, a common policy on asylum and immigration, which will maintain the necessary balance between protection of refugees, in accordance with the principles of the 1951 Geneva Convention, the legitimate aspiration to a better life and the reception capacities of the Union and its Member States.

40. A true common asylum and immigration policy implies the establishment of the following instruments:
– the integration of the policy on migratory flows into the European Union's foreign policy. In particular, European readmission agreements must be concluded with the countries concerned on the basis of a new list of priorities and a clear action plan. The European Council calls for an action plan to be developed on the basis of the Commission communication on illegal immigration and the smuggling of human beings;
– the development of a European system for exchanging information on asylum, migration and countries of origin; the implementation of Eurodac and a Regulation for the more efficient application of the Dublin Convention, with rapid and efficient procedures;
– the establishment of common standards on procedures for asylum, reception and family reunification, including accelerated procedures where justified. These standards should take account of the need to offer help to asylum applicants;
– the establishment of specific programmes to combat discrimination and racism.

41. The European Council asks the Council to submit, by 30 April 2002 at the latest, amended proposals concerning asylum procedures, family reunification and the "Dublin II" Regulation. In addition, the Council is asked to expedite its proceedings on other drafts concerning reception standards, the definition of the term "refugee" and forms of subsidiary protection.

More effective control of external borders

42. Better management of the Union's external border controls will help in the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration networks and the traffic in human beings. The European Council asks the Council and the Commission to work out arrangements for cooperation between services responsible for external border control and to examine the conditions in which a mechanism or common services to control external borders could be created. It asks the Council and the Member States to take steps to set up a common visa identification system and to examine the possibility of setting up common consular offices’.