European Union (EU) agencies, including the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), are ready to assist Member States that request it in connection with the situation at the European Union’s (EU) external border, LETA was informed by the European Commission’s (EC) Representation in Latvia.
EASO could assist Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the registration and processing of applications, ensure the screening of vulnerable persons and support the management, development and implementation of appropriate reception.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is also ready to provide support for border control activities, including screening and return operations. Europol’s support is also available, which can provide intelligence to combat human trafficking.
It has already been reported that the EC has issued a package of temporary measures in the field of asylum and return aimed at helping Latvia, Lithuania and Poland deal with the emergency situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus. These measures will allow these Member States to establish rapid and orderly procedures to deal with this situation, in full respect of fundamental rights and international obligations, including the principle of non-refoulement.
As stated by the EC, this proposal follows the European Council’s call on the EC to propose the necessary changes to the EU legal framework and concrete measures based on adequate financial support to ensure an immediate and appropriate response in accordance with EU law and international obligations including respect for fundamental rights. . These measures will enter into force once they have been adopted by the EU Council. The European Parliament (EP) will be consulted. The measures will be valid for six months.
The EC has emphasized that the measures contained in this proposal are extremely exceptional. These measures will apply for a period of six months, unless extended or revoked. They will apply to third-country nationals who have entered the EU illegally from Belarus and are at the border or arriving at border crossings.
The three Member States will be able to extend the registration period for asylum applications to four weeks. At present, this time is three to ten days. In addition, those Member States may apply an asylum procedure for the examination of all applications for asylum at the border, the duration of which, including the examination of an appeal, shall not exceed 16 weeks. Exceptions are cases where it is not possible to provide adequate support to applicants with specific health problems. Priority should be given to reasoned requests as well as to requests for families and children.
As regards reception conditions, Member States shall provide only basic needs, such as seasonal accommodation, food, water, clothing, adequate medical care and assistance to vulnerable persons, with full respect for human dignity. According to the EC, it is important that Member States work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and relevant partner organizations to support individuals in this emergency.
Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will be able to apply simplified and faster national procedures, including for the return of persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected in this context. The EC emphasized that the procedures set out in this proposal must respect fundamental rights and the specific guarantees provided by EU law, which include the best interests of the child, emergency health care and the needs of vulnerable people, the use of coercive measures and conditions of detention.
The EC, Member States and EU agencies will continue to work together. During this cooperation, Member States will continue to report relevant data and statistics to the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Network. The EC will review the situation on a regular basis and may propose to the EU Council to extend or repeal these provisional measures.