The EU has had its greatest effects on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs) through the stable legal framework of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The 2013 Reception Conditions and 2011 Qualification Directives build on the standards set by the 1951 Geneva Convention and aim for its full and effective implementation. As presented in the MPG paper “Lost in transition? The European standards behind refugee integration”, they guarantee a series of standards that shape the integration process, starting from the reception phase until full legal, socio-economic and socio-cultural integration allows refugees to realise their full potential to contribute to society.
On 13 July 2016, a set of proposals was presented to reform these standards, including to replace the Qualification Directive with a Regulation and to amend the Reception Conditions Directive. The social consequences of these proposals are serious. Since BIPs today are fleeing many protracted conflicts that take on average 25 years to resolve, our societies will have to live with the consequences of these proposals for years—if not generations—to come.
These proposals largely represent a missed opportunity and a potentially major risk for integration. The minor improvements on reception and qualification standards would only marginally improve the situation on the ground in most Member States. Moreover, several of the recast’s proposals would actually delay and undermine the integration process for asylum-seekers and BIPs by reducing support for potentially large numbers and removing some possibilities for more favourable conditions for integration. Unlike the 1st and 2nd generation of the CEAS, which consolidated the most common national practices in EU law, several of these proposals are modelled on hasty and politicised recent restrictions in only a few Member States. These restrictions have not yet been demonstrated to be justified, proportionate or effective for improving integration outcomes.
Overall, national governments and civil society agreed that better implementation of the current Reception and Qualification Directives would have greater effects on integration, without jeopardising the effectiveness of other proposed reforms to the CEAS. Particularly as the Commission’s 2016 asylum proposals were drafted more hastily than previous EU asylum and immigration proposals, these two proposals would need to be revised or seriously amended by Council and Parliament in order to make integration the top priority of this recast and avoid a de facto race-to-the-bottom where Member States are further demanding integration but not effectively supporting BIPs, Member States and the local, social and civil society actors that make integration a reality.
 Press releases on the proposals: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2433_en.htm and http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2434_en.htm