Considerations on COM(2016)467 - Common procedure for international protection in the Union - EU monitor

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Considerations on COM(2016)467 - Common procedure for international protection in the Union

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dossier COM(2016)467 - Common procedure for international protection in the Union.
document COM(2016)467 EN
date July 13, 2016
 
(1) The objective of this Regulation is to streamline, simplify and harmonise the procedural arrangements of the Member States by establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union. To meet that objective, a number of substantive changes are made to Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council  22 and that Directive should be repealed and replaced by a Regulation. References to the repealed Directive should be construed as references to this Regulation.

(2) A common policy on asylum, including a Common European Asylum System which is based on the full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967 (Geneva Convention), is a constituent part of the European Union’s objective of establishing progressively an area of freedom, security and justice open to those who, forced by circumstances, legitimately seek protection in the Union. Such a policy should be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the Member States.

(3) The Common European Asylum System is based on common standards for asylum procedures, recognition and protection offered at Union level, reception conditions and a system for determining the Member State responsible for asylum seekers. Notwithstanding progress achieved so far in the progressive development of the Common European Asylum System, there are still significant disparities between the Member States in the types of procedures used, the recognition rates, the type of protection granted, the level of material reception conditions and benefits given to applicants and beneficiaries of international protection. These divergences are important drivers of secondary movements and undermine the objective of ensuring that in a Common European Asylum System all applicants are equally treated wherever they apply in the Union.

(4) In its Communication of 6 April 2016, 23 the Commission set out its options for improving the Common European Asylum System, namely to establish a sustainable and fair system for determining the Member State responsible for asylum seekers, to reinforce the Eurodac system, to achieve greater convergence in the EU asylum system, to prevent secondary movements within the Union and a new mandate for the European Union Agency for Asylum. That Communication is line with calls by the European Council on 18-19 February 2016  24 to make progress towards reforming the EU's existing framework so as to ensure a humane and efficient asylum policy. It also proposes a way forward in line with the holistic approach to migration set out by the European Parliament in its own initiative report of 12 April 2016.

(5) For a well-functioning Common European Asylum System, substantial progress should be made regarding the convergence of national asylum systems. The current disparate asylum procedures in all Member States should be replaced with a common procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection applicable across all Member States pursuant to Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX of the European Parliament and of the Council (Qualification Regulation)  25 ensuring the timeliness and effectiveness of the procedure. Applications made by the third-country nationals and stateless persons for the international protection should be examined in a procedure, which is governed by the same rules, regardless of the Member State where the application is lodged to ensure equity in the treatment of applications for international protection, clarity and legal certainty for the individual applicant.

(6) A common procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection should limit the secondary movements of applicants for international protection between Member States, where such movements would be caused by differences in legal frameworks, by replacing the current discretionary provisions with harmonised rules and by clarifying the rights and obligations of applicants and the consequences of non-compliance with those obligations, and create equivalent conditions for the application of Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation) in Member States.

(7) This Regulation should apply to all applications for international protection made in the territory of the Member States, including those made at the external border, on the territorial sea or in the transit zones of Member States, and the withdrawal of international protection. Persons seeking international protection who are present on the territorial sea of a Member State should be disembarked on land and have their applications examined in accordance with this Regulation.

(8) This Regulation should apply to applications for international protection in a procedure where it is examined whether the applicants qualify as beneficiaries of international protection in accordance with Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation). In addition to the international protection, the Member States may also grant under their national law other national humanitarian statuses to those who do not qualify for the refugee status or subsidiary protection status. In order to streamline the procedures in Member States, the Member States should have the possibility to apply this Regulation also to applications for any kind of such other protection.

(9) With respect to the treatment of persons falling within the scope of this Regulation, Member States are bound by obligations under instruments of international law to which they are party.

(10) The resources of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund should be mobilised to provide adequate support to Member States' efforts in applying this Regulation, in particular to those Member States which are faced with specific and disproportionate pressures on their asylum and reception systems.

(11) The European Union Agency for Asylum should provide Member State with the necessary operational and technical assistance in the application of this Regulation, in particular by providing experts to assist national authorities to receive, register, and examine applications for international protection and by providing updated information on third countries, including country of origin information and guidance on the situation in specific countries of origin. When applying this Regulation, Member States should take into account operational standards, indicators, guidelines and best practices developed by the European Union Agency for Asylum.

(12) In the interests of a correct recognition of those persons in need of protection as refugees within the meaning of Article 1 of the Geneva Convention or as persons eligible for subsidiary protection, every applicant should have an effective access to the procedure, the opportunity to cooperate and properly communicate with the responsible authorities so as to present the relevant facts of his or her case and sufficient procedural guarantees to pursue his or her case throughout all stages of the procedure.

(13) The applicant should be provided with an effective opportunity to present all relevant elements at his or her disposal to the determining authority. For this reason, the applicant should, subject to limited exceptions, enjoy the right to be heard through a personal interview on the admissibility or on merits of his or her application, as appropriate. For the right to a personal interview to be effective, the applicant should be assisted by an interpreter and be given the opportunity to provide his or explanations concerning the grounds for his or her application in a comprehensive manner. The applicant should be given sufficient time to prepare and consult with his or her legal adviser or counsellor, and he or she may be assisted by the legal adviser or counsellor during the interview. The personal interview should be conducted under conditions which ensure appropriate confidentiality and by adequately trained and competent personnel, including where necessary, personnel from authorities of other Member States or experts deployed by the European Union Agency for Asylum. The personal interview may only be omitted when the determining authority is to take a positive decision on the application or is of the opinion that the applicant is unfit or unable to be interviewed owing to enduring circumstance beyond his or her control. Given that the personal interview is an essential part of the examination of the application, the interview should be recorded and the applicants and their legal advisers should be given access to the recording, as well as to the report or transcript of the interview before the determining authority takes a decision, or in the case of an accelerated examination procedure, at the same time as the decision is made.

(14) It is in the interests of both Member States and applicants to ensure a correct recognition of international protection needs already at the stage of the administrative procedure by providing good quality information and legal support which leads to more efficient and better quality decision-making. For that purpose, access to legal assistance and representation should be an integral part of the common procedure for international protection. In order to ensure the effective protection of the applicant's rights, particularly the right of defence and the principle of fairness, and to ensure the economy of the procedure, applicants should, upon their request and subject to conditions set out in this Regulation, be provided with free legal assistance and representation during the administrative procedure and in the appeal procedure. The free legal assistance and representation should be provided by persons competent to provide them under national law.

(15) Certain applicants may be in need of special procedural guarantees due, inter alia, to their age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, serious illness, mental disorders or as a consequence of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical, sexual or gender-based violence. It is necessary to systematically assess whether an individual applicant is in need of special procedural guarantees and identify those applicants as early as possible from the moment an application is made and before a decision is taken.

(16) To ensure that the identification of applicants in need of special procedural guarantees takes place as early as possible, the personnel of the authorities responsible for receiving and registering applications should be adequately trained to detect signs of vulnerability signs and they should receive appropriate instructions for that purpose. Further measures dealing with identification and documentation of symptoms and signs of torture or other serious acts of physical or psychological violence, including acts of sexual violence, in procedures covered by this Regulation should, inter alia, be based on the Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol).

(17) Applicants who are identified as being in need of special procedural guarantees should be provided with adequate support, including sufficient time, in order to create the conditions necessary for their effective access to procedures and for presenting the elements needed to substantiate their application for international protection. Where it is not possible to provide adequate support in the framework of an accelerated examination procedure or a border procedure, an applicant in need of special procedural guarantees should be exempted from those procedures. The need for special procedural guarantees of a nature that could prevent the application of accelerated or border procedures should also mean that the applicant is provided with additional guarantees in cases where his or her appeal does not have automatic suspensive effect, with a view to making the remedy effective in his or her particular circumstances.

(18) With a view to ensuring substantive equality between female and male applicants, examination procedures should be gender-sensitive. In particular, personal interviews should be organised in a way which makes it possible for both female and male applicants to speak about their past experiences in cases involving gender-based persecution. For this purpose, women should be given an effective opportunity to be interviewed separately from their spouse, partner or other family members. Where possible, women and girls should be provided with female interpreters and interviewers. Medical examinations on women and girls should be carried out by female medical practitioners, in particular having regard to the fact that the applicant may have been a victim of gender-based violence. The complexity of gender-related claims should be properly taken into account in procedures based on the concept of first country of asylum, the concept of safe third country, the concept of safe country of origin and in the notion of subsequent applications.

(19) When, in the framework of an application being processed, the applicant is searched, that search should be carried by a person of the same sex. This should be without prejudice to a search carried out, for security reasons, on the basis of national law.

(20) The best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States when applying this Regulation, in accordance with Article 24 of the Charter and the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In assessing the best interests of the child, Member States should in particular take due account of the minor’s well-being and social development, including his or her background. In view of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the child's right to be heard, the determining authority shall provide a minor the opportunity of a personal interview unless this is manifestly not in the minor's best interests.

(21) The common procedure streamlines the time-limits for an individual to accede to the procedure, for the examination of the application by the determining authority as well as for the examination of first level appeals by judicial authorities. Whereas a disproportionate number of simultaneous applications may risk delaying access to the procedure and the examination of the applications, a measure of flexibility to exceptionally extend those time-lines may at times be needed. However, to ensure an effective process, extending those time-limits should be a measure of last resort considering that Member States should regularly review their needs to maintain an efficient asylum system, including by preparing contingency plans where necessary, and considering that the European Union Agency for Asylum should provide Member States with the necessary operational and technical assistance. Where Member States foresee that they would not be able to meet the set time-limits, they should request assistance from the European Union Agency for Asylum. Where no such request is made, and because of the disproportionate pressure the asylum system in a Member State becomes ineffective to the extent of jeopardising the functioning of Common European Asylum System, the Agency may, based on an implementing decision of the Commission, take measures in support of that Member State.

(22) Access to the common procedure should be based on a three-step approach consisting of the making, registering and lodging of an application. Making an application is the first step that triggers the application of this Regulation. A third-country national or stateless person is considered to have made an application when expressing a wish to receive international protection from a Member State. Such a wish may be expressed in any form and the individual applicant need not necessarily use specific words such as international protection, asylum or subsidiary protection. The defining element should be the expression by the third county national or the stateless person of a fear of persecution or serious harm upon return to his or her country of origin, or in the case of a stateless person, to his or her country of former habitual residence. In case of doubt whether a certain declaration may be construed as an application for international protection, the third-country national or stateless person should be expressly asked whether he or she wishes to receive international protection. The applicant should benefit from rights under this Regulation and Directive XXX/XXX/EU (Reception Conditions Directive)  26 as soon as he or she makes an application.

(23) An application should be registered as soon as it is made. At this stage, the authorities responsible for receiving and registering applications, including border guards, police, immigration authorities and authorities responsible for detention facilities should register the application together with the personal details of the individual applicant. Those authorities should inform the applicant of his or her rights and obligations, as well as the consequences for the applicant in case of non-compliance with those obligations. The applicant should be given a document certifying that an application has been made. The time limit for lodging an application starts to run from the moment an application is registered.

(24) The lodging of the application is the act that formalises the application for international protection. The applicant should be given the necessary information as to how and where to lodge his or her application and he or she should be given an effective opportunity to do so. At this stage he or she is required to submit all the elements at his or her disposal needed to substantiate and complete the application. The time-limit for the administrative procedure starts to run from the moment an application is lodged. At that time, the applicant should be given a document which certifies his or her status as an applicant, and which should be valid for the duration of the his or her right to remain on the territory of the Member State responsible for examining the application.

(25) The applicant should be informed properly of his or her rights and obligations in a timely manner and in a language that he or she understands or is reasonably meant to understand. Having regard to the fact that where, for instance, the applicant refuses to cooperate with the national authorities by not providing the elements necessary for the examination of the application and by not providing his or her fingerprints or facial image, or fails to lodge his or her application within the set time limit, the application could be rejected as abandoned, it is necessary that the applicant be informed of the consequences for not complying with those obligations.

(26) To be able to fulfil their obligations under this Regulation, the personnel of the authorities responsible for receiving and registering applications should have appropriate knowledge and should receive the necessary training in the field of international protection, including with the support of the European Union Agency for Asylum. They should also be given the appropriate means and instructions to effectively perform their tasks.

(27) In order to facilitate access to the procedure at border crossing points and in detention facilities, information should be made available on the possibility to apply for international protection. Basic communication necessary to enable the competent authorities to understand if persons declare their wish to receive international protection should be ensured through interpretation arrangements.

(28) This Regulation should provide for the possibility that applicants lodge an application on behalf of their spouse, partner in a stable and durable relationship, dependant adults and minors. This option allows for the joint examination of those applications. The right of each individual to seek international protection is guaranteed by the fact that if the applicant does not apply on behalf of the spouse, partner, dependant adult or minor within the set time-limit for lodging an application, the spouse or partner may still do in his or her own name, and the dependant adult or minor should be assisted by the determining authority. However, if a separate application is not justified, it should be considered as inadmissible.

(29) To ensure that unaccompanied minors have effective access to the procedure, they should always be appointed a guardian. The guardian should be a person or a representative of an organisation appointed to assist and guide the minor through the procedure with a view to safeguard the best interests of the child as well his or her general well-being. Where necessary, the guardian should exercise legal capacity for the minor. In order to provide effective support to the unaccompanied minors, guardians should not be placed in charge of a disproportionate number of unaccompanied minors at the same time. Member States should appoint entities or persons responsible for the support, supervision and monitoring of the guardians in the performance of their tasks. An unaccompanied minor should lodge an application in his or her own name or through the guardian. In order to safeguard the rights and procedural guarantees of an unaccompanied minor, the time-limit for him or her to lodge an application should start to run from when his or her guardian is appointed and they meet. Where the guardian does not lodge the application within the set time limit, the unaccompanied minor should be given an opportunity to lodge the application on his or her name with the assistance of the determining authority. The fact that an unaccompanied minor chooses to lodge an application in his or her own name should not preclude him or her from being assigned a guardian.

(30) In order to guarantee the rights of the applicants, decisions on all applications for international protection should be taken on the basis of the facts, objectively, impartially and on an individual basis after a thorough examination which takes into account all the elements provided by the applicant and the individual circumstances of the applicant. To ensure a rigorous examination of an application, the determining authority should take into account relevant, accurate and up-to-date information relating to the situation in the country of origin of the applicant obtained from the European Union Agency for Asylum and other sources such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The determining authority should also take into account any relevant common analysis of country of origin information developed by the European Union Agency for Asylum. Any postponement of concluding the procedure should fully comply with the obligations of the Member States under Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation) and with the right to good administration, without prejudice to the efficiency and fairness of the procedure under this Regulation.

(31) In order to guarantee the rights of the applicant, a decision concerning his or her application should be given in writing. Where the decision does not grant international protection, the applicant should be given reasons for the decision and information on the consequences of the decision as well as the manner in which to challenge that decision. Without prejudice to the applicant's right to remain and to the principle of non-refoulement, such a decision may include, or may be issued together with, a return decision issued in accordance with Article 6 of Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.  27  

(32) It is necessary that decisions on applications for international protection are taken by authorities whose personnel has the appropriate knowledge and has received the necessary training in the field of international protection, and that they perform their activities with due respect for the applicable ethical principles. This should apply to the personnel of authorities from other Member States and experts deployed by the European Union Agency for Asylum deployed to assist the determining authority of a Member State in the examination of applications for international protection.

(33) Without prejudice to carrying out an adequate and complete examination of an application for international protection, it is in the interests of both Member States and applicants for a decision to be taken as soon as possible. Maximum time-limits for the duration of the administrative procedure as well as for the first level of appeal should be established to streamline the procedure for international protection. In this way, applicants should be able to receive a decision on their application within the least amount of time possible in all Member States thereby ensuring a speedy and efficient procedure.

(34) In order to shorten the overall duration of the procedure in certain cases, Member States should have the flexibility, in accordance with their national needs, to prioritise the examination of any application by examining it before other, previously made applications, without derogating from normally applicable procedural time limits, principles and guarantees.

(35) Before determining the Member State responsible in accordance with Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX of the European Parliament and of the Council (Dublin Regulation), 28 the first Member State in which an application has been lodged should examine the admissibility of that application when a country which is not a Member State is considered as a first country of asylum or safe third country for the applicant. In addition, an application should be considered to be inadmissible when it is a subsequent applicant without new relevant elements or findings and when a separate application by a spouse, partner, dependent adult or minor is not considered to be justified.

(36) The concept of first country of asylum should be applied as a ground for inadmissibility where it can reasonably be assumed that another country would grant protection in accordance with the substantive standards of the Geneva Convention or the applicant would be provided sufficient protection in that country. In particular, the Member States should not examine the merits of an application where a first country of asylum has granted the applicant refugee status or otherwise sufficient protection. Member States should proceed on that basis only where they are satisfied including, where necessary or appropriate, based on assurances obtained from the third country concerned, that the applicant has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy protection in that country in accordance with the Geneva Convention or has otherwise enjoyed and will continue to enjoy sufficient protection, particularly as regards the right of legal residence, appropriate access to the labour market, reception facilities, healthcare and education, and the right to family reunification in accordance with international human rights standards.

(37) The concept of safe third country should be applied as a ground for inadmissibility where the applicant, due to a connection to the third country including one through which he or she has transited, can reasonably be expected to seek protection in that country, and there are grounds for considering that the applicant will be admitted or readmitted to that country. Member States should proceed on that basis only where they are satisfied including, where necessary or appropriate, based on assurances obtained from the third country concerned, that the applicant will have the possibility to receive protection in accordance with the substantive standards of the Geneva Convention or will enjoy sufficient protection, particularly as regards the right of legal residence, appropriate access to the labour market, reception facilities, healthcare and education, and the right to family reunification in accordance with international human rights standards.

(38) An application for international protection should be examined on its merits to determine whether an applicant qualifies for international protection in accordance with Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation). There need not be an examination on the merits where an application should be declared as inadmissible in accordance with this Regulation. However, where from a prima facie assessment it is clear that an application may be rejected as manifestly unfounded, the application may be rejected on that ground without examining its admissibility.

(39) The examination of an application should be accelerated and completed within a maximum of two months in those instances where an application is manifestly unfounded because it is an abusive claim, including where an applicant comes from a safe country of origin or an applicant is making an application merely to delay or frustrate the enforcement of a removal decision, or where there are serious national security or public concerns, where the applicant does not apply for international protection in the first Member State of entry or in the Member State of legal residence or where an applicant whose application is under examination and who made an application in another Member State or who is on the territory of another Member State without a residence document is taken back under the Dublin Regulation. In the latter case, the examination of the application should not be accelerated if the applicant is able to provide substantiated justifications for having left to another Member State without authorisation, for having made an application in another Member State or for having otherwise been unavailable to the competent authorities, such as for instance that he or she was not informed adequately and in a timely manner of his or her obligations. Furthermore, an accelerated examination procedure may be applied to unaccompanied minors only within the limited circumstances set out in this Regulation.

(40) Many applications for international protection are made at the border or in a transit zone of a Member State prior to a decision on the entry of the applicant. Member States should be able to provide for an examination on admissibility or an examination on the merits which would make it possible for such applications to be decided upon at those locations in well-defined circumstances. The border procedure should not take longer than four weeks and after that period applicants should be allowed entry to the territory of the Member State. It is only where a disproportionate number of applicants lodge their applications at the borders or in a transit zone, that the border procedure may be applied at locations in proximity to the border or transit zone. A border procedure may be applied to unaccompanied minors only within the limited circumstances set out in this Regulation.

(41) The notion of public order may, inter alia, cover a conviction of having committed a serious crime.

(42) As long as an applicant can show good cause, the lack of documents on entry or the use of forged documents should not per se entail an automatic recourse to an accelerated examination procedure or a border procedure.

(43) Where an applicant either explicitly withdraws his or her application of his or her own motion, or does not comply with the obligations arising from this Regulation, Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Dublin Regulation) or Directive XXX/XXX/EU (Reception Conditions Directive) thereby implicitly withdraws his or her application, the application should not be further examined and it should be rejected as explicitly withdrawn or abandoned, and any application in the Member States by the same applicant further after that decision should be considered to be a subsequent application. However, the implicit withdrawal should not be automatic but the applicant should be allowed the opportunity to report to the determining authority and demonstrate that the failure to comply with those obligations was due to circumstances beyond his control.

(44) Where an applicant makes a subsequent application without presenting new evidence or findings which significantly increase his or her likelihood of qualifying as a beneficiary of international protection or which relate to the reasons for which the previous application was rejected as inadmissible, that subsequent application should not be subject to a new full examination procedure. In those cases, following a preliminary examination, applications should be dismissed as inadmissible or as manifestly unfounded where the application is so clearly without substance or abusive that it has no tangible prospect of success, in accordance with the res judicata principle. The preliminary examination shall be carried out on the basis of written submissions and a personal interview however the personal interview may be dispensed with in those instances where, from the written submissions, it is clear that the application does not give rise to relevant new elements or findings or that it is clearly without substance and has no tangible prospect of success. In case of subsequent applications, exceptions may be made to the individual's right to remain on the territory of a Member State after a subsequent application is rejected as inadmissible or unfounded, or in the case of a second or further subsequent applications, as soon as an application is made in any Member States following a final decision which had rejected a previous subsequent application as inadmissible, unfounded or manifestly unfounded.

(45) A key consideration as to whether an application for international protection is well-founded is the safety of the applicant in his or her country of origin. Having regard to the fact that Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation) aims to achieve a high level of convergence on the qualification of third-country nationals and stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, this Regulation establishes common criteria for designating third countries as safe countries of origin and, in view of the need to strengthen the application of the safe country of origin concept as an essential tool to support the swift processing of applications that are likely to be unfounded, this Regulation sets out an EU common list of safe countries of origin.

(46) The fact that a third country is on the EU common list of safe countries of origin cannot establish an absolute guarantee of safety for nationals of that country and therefore does not dispense with the need to conduct an appropriate individual examination of the application for international protection. By its very nature, the assessment underlying the designation can only take into account the general, civil, legal and political circumstances in that country and whether actors of persecution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are subject to sanction in practice when found liable in that country. For this reason, where an applicant shows that there are serious reasons to consider the country not to be safe in his or her particular circumstances, the designation of the country as safe can no longer be considered relevant for him or her.

(47) As regards the designation of safe third countries at Union level, this Regulation provides for having such a designation. Third countries should be designated as safe third countries at Union level by means of an amendment to this Regulation based on the conditions set out in this Regulation and after carrying out a detailed evidence-based assessment involving substantive research and broad consultation with Member States and relevant stakeholders.

(48) The establishment of an EU common list of safe countries of origin and an EU common list for safe third countries should address some of the existing divergences between Member States’ national lists of safe countries. While Member States should retain the right to apply or introduce legislation that allows for the national designation of third countries other than those designated as safe third countries at Union level or appearing on the EU common list as safe countries of origin, the establishment of such common designation or list should ensure that the concept is applied by all Member States in a uniform manner in relation to applicants whose countries of origin are on the common list or who have a connection with a safe third country. This should facilitate convergence in the application of procedures and thereby also deter secondary movements of applicants for international protection. For that reason, the possibility of using national lists or designations should come to an end within a period of five years from entry into force of this Regulation.

(49) The Commission, assisted by the European Union Agency for Asylum, should regularly review the situation in third countries designated as safe third countries at Union level or that are on the EU common list of safe countries of origin. In case of sudden change for the worse in the situation of such a third country, the Commission should be able to suspend the designation of that third country as safe third country at Union level or the presence of that third country from the EU common list of safe countries of origin for a limited period of time by means of a delegated act in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Moreover, in this case, the Commission should propose an amendment for the third country not to be designated as a safe third country at Union level any longer or to remove that third country from the EU common list of safe country of origin within 3 months of the adoption of delegated act suspending the third country.

(50) For the purpose of this substantiated assessment, the Commission should take into consideration a range of sources of information at its disposal including in particular, its Annual Progress Reports for third countries designated as candidate countries by the European Council, regular reports from the European External Action Service and the information from Member States, the European Union Agency for Asylum, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Council of Europe and other relevant international organisations. The Commission should be able to extend the suspension of the designation of a third country as a safe third country at Union level or the presence of a third country from the EU common list of safe country of origin for a period of six months, with a possibility to renew that extension once. It is of particular importance that the Commission carries out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council.

(51) When the period of validity of the delegated act and its extensions expires, without a new delegated act being adopted, the designation of the third country as safe third country at Union level or from the EU common list of safe countries of origin should no longer be suspended. This shall be without prejudice to any proposed amendment for the removal of the third country from the lists.

(52) The Commission, with the assistance of the European Union Agency for Asylum, should regularly review the situation in third countries that have been removed from the EU common list of safe countries of origin or safe third countries, including where a Member State notifies the Commission that it considers, based on a substantiated assessment, that, following changes in the situation of that third country, it fulfils again the conditions set out in this Regulation for being designated as safe. In such a case, Member States could only designate that third country as a safe country of origin or a safe third country at the national level as long as the Commission does not raise objections to that designation. Where the Commission considers that these conditions are fulfilled, it may propose an amendment to the designation of safe third countries at Union level or to the EU common list of safe countries of origin so as to add the third country.

(53) As regards safe countries of origin, following the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 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 European Union Agency for Asylum 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*, 29 the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia should be considered as safe countries of origin within the meaning of this Regulation.

(54) Based on a range of sources of information, including in particular reporting from the European External Action Service and information from Member States, the European Union Agency for Asylum, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Council of Europe and other relevant international organisations, a number of third countries are considered to qualify as safe countries of origin.

(55) As regards Albania, the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in four out of 150 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 7,8 % (1040) of asylum applications of citizens from Albania were well-founded. At least eight Member States have designated Albania as a safe country of origin. Albania has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council. At the time of designation, the assessment was that Albania fulfilled the criteria established by the Copenhagen European Council of 21-22 June 1993 relating to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities and Albania will have to continue to fulfil those criteria, for becoming a member in line with the recommendations provided in the Annual Progress Report.

(56) As regards Bosnia and Herzegovina, its Constitution provides the basis for the sharing of powers between the country's constituent peoples. The legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in five out of 1196 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 4,6 % (330) of asylum applications of citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina were well-founded. At least nine Member States have designated Bosnia and Herzegovina as a safe country of origin.

(57) As regards the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by principle substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in six out of 502 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 0,9 % (70) of asylum applications of citizens of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were well-founded. At least seven Member States have designated the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a safe country of origin. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council. At the time of designation, the assessment was that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia fulfilled the criteria established by the Copenhagen European Council of 21-22 June 1993 relating to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will have to continue to fulfil those criteria, for becoming a member in line with the recommendations provided in the Annual Progress Report.

(58) As regards Kosovo*, the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation. The non-accession of Kosovo* to relevant international human rights instruments such as the ECHR results from the lack of international consensus regarding its status as a sovereign State. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 6,3 % (830) of asylum applications of citizens of Kosovo* were well-founded. At least six Member States have designated Kosovo* as a safe country of origin.

(59) This Regulation is without prejudice to Member States' position on the status of Kosovo, which will be decided in accordance with their national practice and international law. In addition, none of the terms, wording or definitions used in this Regulation constitute recognition of Kosovo by the Union as an independent State nor does it constitute recognition by individual Member States of Kosovo in that capacity where they have not taken such a step. In particular, the use of the term 'countries' does not imply recognition of statehood.

(60) As regards Montenegro, the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in one out of 447 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 3,0 % (40) of asylum applications of citizens of Montenegro were well-founded. At least nine Member States have designated Montenegro as a safe country of origin. Montenegro has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened. At the time of designation, the assessment was that Montenegro fulfilled the criteria established by the Copenhagen European Council of 21-22 June 1993 relating to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. Montenegro will have to continue to fulfil those criteria, for becoming a member in line with the recommendations provided in the Annual Progress Report.

(61) As regards Serbia, the Constitution provides the basis for self-governance of minority groups in the areas of education, use of language, information and culture. The legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in 16 out of 11 490 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 1,8 % (400) of asylum applications of citizens from Serbia were well- founded. At least nine Member States have designated Serbia as a safe country of origin. Serbia has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened. At the time of designation, the assessment was that Serbia fulfilled the criteria established by the Copenhagen European Council of 21-22 June 1993 relating to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. Serbia will have to continue to fulfil those criteria, for becoming a member in line with the recommendations provided in the Annual Progress Report.

(62) As regards Turkey, the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including membership of all major international human rights treaties. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found violations in 94 out of 2 899 applications. There are no indications of any incidents of expulsion, removal or extradition of own citizens to third countries where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another third country. In 2014, Member States considered that 23,1 % (310) of asylum applications of citizens of Turkey were well-founded. One Member State has designated Turkey as a safe country of origin. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened. At the time, the assessment was that Turkey sufficiently meets fulfilled the political criteria established by the Copenhagen European Council of 21-22 June 1993 relating to stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, and Turkey will have to continue to fulfil those criteria, for becoming a member in line with the recommendations provided in the Annual Progress Report.

(63) With respect to the withdrawal of refugee or subsidiary protection status, and in particular in view of the regular status review to be carried out on the basis of Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Qualification Regulation), Member States should ensure that persons benefiting from international protection are duly informed of a possible reconsideration of their status and that they are given the opportunity to submit their point of view, within a reasonable time, by means of a written statement and in a personal interview, before the authorities can take a reasoned decision to withdraw their status.

(64) Decisions taken on an application for international protection, including the decisions concerning the explicit or implicit withdrawal of an application, and the decisions on the withdrawal of refugee or subsidiary protection status should be subject to an effective remedy before a court or tribunal in compliance with all requirements and conditions laid down in Article 47 of the Charter. To ensure the effectiveness of the procedure, the applicant should lodge his or her appeal within a set time-limit. For the applicant to be able to meet those time-limits and with a view to ensuring effective access to judicial review, he or she should be able to be assisted by an interpreter as well as be entitled to free legal assistance and representation.

(65) For an applicant to be able to exercise his or her right to an effective remedy, he or she should be allowed to remain on the territory of a Member State until the time-limit for lodging a first level of appeal expires, and when such a right is exercised within the set time-limit, pending the outcome of the remedy. It is only in limited cases set out in this Regulation that the suspensive effect of an appeal is not automatic and where the applicant would need to request the court or tribunal to stay the execution of a return decision or the court would act of its own motion to this effect. Where an exception is made to the right to a remedy with automatic suspensive effect, the applicant's rights of defence should be adequately guaranteed by providing him or her with the necessary interpretation and legal assistance, as well as by allowing sufficient time for the applicant to prepare and submit his or her request to the court or tribunal. Furthermore, in this framework, the court or tribunal should be able to examine the decision refusing to grant international protection in terms of fact and law. The applicant should be allowed to remain on the territory pending the outcome of the procedure to rule on whether or not he or she may remain. However, that decision should be taken within one month.

(66) Having regard to the need for equity in the management of applications and effectiveness in the common procedure for international protection, time-limits should not only be set for the administrative procedure but they should also be established for the appeal stage, at least insofar as the first level of appeal is concerned. This should be without prejudice to an adequate and complete examination of an appeal, and therefore a measure of flexibility should still be maintained in cases involving complex issues of fact or law.

(67) In accordance with Article 72 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, this Regulation does not affect the exercise of the responsibilities incumbent upon Member States with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security.

(68) Regulation (EU) No 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)  30 applies to the processing of personal data by the Member States carried out in application of this Regulation.

(69) Any processing of personal by the European Union Agency for Asylum within the framework of this Regulation should be conducted in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council, 31 as well as Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (EU Asylum Agency Regulation)  32 and it should, in particular, respect the principles of necessity and proportionality.

(70) Any personal data collected upon registration or lodging of an application for international protection and during the personal interview should be considered to be part of the applicant's file and it should be kept for a number of years since third-country nationals or stateless persons who request international protection in one Member State may try to request international protection in another Member State or may submit further subsequent applications in the same or another Member State for years to come. Given that most third-country nationals or stateless persons who have stayed in the Union for several years will have obtained a settled status or even citizenship of a Member State after a period of ten years from when they are granted international protection, that period should be considered a necessary period for the storage of personal details, including fingerprints and facial images.

(71) In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of this Regulation, in particular as regards the provision of information, documents to the applicants and measures concerning applicants in need of special procedural guarantees including minors, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council 33 of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by the Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers.

(72) In order to address sudden changes for the worse in a third country designated as a safe third country at Union level or included in the EU common list of safe countries of origin, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of suspending the designation of that third country as safe third country at Union level or the presence of that third country from the EU common list of safe countries of origin for a period of six months where the Commission considers, on the basis of a substantiated assessment, that the conditions set by this Regulation are no longer met. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level, and that those consultations be conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016. In particular, to ensure equal participation in the preparation of delegated acts, the European Parliament and the Council receive all documents at the same time as Member States' experts, and their experts systematically have access to meetings of Commission expert groups dealing with the preparation of delegated acts.

(73) This Regulation does not deal with procedures between Member States governed by Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Dublin Regulation).

(74) This Regulation should apply to applicants to whom Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX (Dublin Regulation) applies, in addition and without prejudice to the provisions of that Regulation.

(75) The application of this Regulation should be evaluated at regular intervals.

(76) Since the objective of this Regulation, namely to establish a common procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale and effects of this Regulation, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.

(77) [In accordance with Article 3 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, those Member States have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Regulation]

OR

[In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, those Member States are not taking part in the adoption of this Regulation and are not bound by it or subject to its application.]

OR

[(XX) In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, the United Kingdom is not taking part in the adoption of this Regulation and is not bound by it or subject to its application.

(XX) In accordance with Article 3 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Ireland has notified (, by letter of ...,) its wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Regulation.]

OR

[(XX) In accordance with Article 3 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the United Kingdom has notified (, by letter of ...,) its wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Regulation.

(XX) In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, Ireland is not taking part in the adoption of this Regulation and is not bound by it or subject to its application.]

(78) In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Regulation and is not bound by it or subject to its application.

(79) This Regulation respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular, this Regulation seeks to ensure full respect for human dignity and to promote the application of Articles 1, 4, 8, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 47 of the Charter.