Greece: New asylum reform transposing the recast Reception Conditions Directive

The Greek Ministry of Interior has submitted a bill for public consultation from 11 to 31 October 2016, concerning the transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive into national legislation.

Selected provisions of the Directive have already been incorporated into the Greek legal system through Law (L) 4375/2016, adopted in April 2016 and amended in June 2016. These mainly concern detention of asylum seekers and access to the labour market. The bill aims at the transposition of the remainder of the Directive, leading to the repeal of the currently applicable Presidential Decree (PD) 220/2007.

The main elements of the reform proposed by the draft law relate to the following areas:

 

Freedom of movement

Article 6(4): The provisions transposing Article 7 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive on the freedom of movement of asylum seekers are without prejudice to Article 14 L 4375/2016, setting out restrictions on the movement of new entrants held in Reception and Identification Centres on the islands and in Evros. However, as argued by the Greek Council for Refugees, as well as ECRE and ICJ, given that the degree and intensity of the restrictions to their freedom of movement effectively deprive asylum seekers of their liberty, these structures should be viewed as detention rather than reception facilities. In light of this, the bill seems a missed opportunity to resolve the incompatibility of L 4375/2016 with the recast Reception Conditions Directive.

 

Access to the labour market

Article 11: While referring to the general conditions for access to the labour market set out in L 4375/2016, according to which employment is only permitted from the moment an asylum application is lodged, the bill sets out a possibility to provide more flexible rules where the registration process takes more than 3 months due to a large number of applications. On the basis of a Joint Decision by the Ministries of Interior and Employment, access to the labour market may be opened up in these cases for persons who have not yet lodged a claim.

This welcome provision could have a positive impact on asylum seekers in Greece, given the number of persons who are still awaiting full registration in the country. A pre-registration scheme launched last summer led to the pre-registration of as many as 27,592 persons, most of whom are yet to formally lodge their application.  

 

Access to and restriction / withdrawal of material reception conditions

Article 13: Material reception conditions under the scheme of the Directive are not only afforded to asylum seekers, as was the case under PD 220/2007, but equally to third-country national and stateless children.

Article 14: Asylum seekers whose application has been rejected at second instance have an obligation to leave reception centres within 60 days of the rejection of their appeal.

Article 15: The bill expands the grounds for withdrawing material reception conditions, to include reasons such as unjustified failure to lodge an application after an application has been made. An appeal is foreseen for challenging such decisions, while the relevant provision, Article 20, provides for free legal assistance for appeals before a court in line with the Directive.

 

For more information, see:

 

Photo: Skaramangas accommodation centre. Credit: The TOC.

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