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Developments which took place in 2020 focused on making the asylum procedure more efficient overall. For example, in Austria, the new coalition government announced in its programme for 2020-2024 a comprehensive strategy on migration, based on a clear separation of migration and asylum. The plan includes a shortening of the asylum procedure which should not exceed 6 months and modernising the asylum procedure by using new technologies.426 

Several countries passed amendments to national legislation to improve the asylum procedure. In October 2020, Bulgaria amended the Law on Asylum, aiming at fast and efficient processing while ensuring all guarantees for applicants and bringing national legislation more in line with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and the recommendations of the European Commission in infringement procedures (No 2015/0363 on the recast Asylum Procedures Directive; No 2018/2123 on the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and the recast Reception Conditions Directive).427  This may have contributed to the rise in decisions which were issued at the end of 2020 compared to earlier periods.

In Estonia, the Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens was amended on 27 June 2020. It now specifies that the PBGB may request assistance from EASO and, on the basis of an international agreement or an act of the EU, it may be involved in the processing of an asylum application in the territory of another state. 

In France, the position of Minister Delegate for Citizenship was created under the Minister of the Interior on 6 July 2020.428 The new role is responsible for asylum and integration.

In Finland, the Act on the Processing of Personal Data in the Field of Immigration Administration (615/2020) entered into force on 1 September 2020. To ensure procedural guarantees for applicants, the new act ensures that constitutional requirements for data protection are met by migration authorities.429 In addition, the Ministry of the Interior started a new project to introduce legislative changes in case of a large-scale influx of migrants.

In Hungary, paragraph 8a was added under the Asylum Law, Article 32/Y to clarify the circumstances when the procedure to enforce a financial claim, which arose during the asylum procedure, ceases.430 

In Ireland, the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process published in October 2020 recommended a reform of the IT system which is used for the international protection procedure. By introducing an online system by 2023, applicants and their representatives can track their case and access information.431 

A new law in Lithuania provides that all decisions on asylum must be issued within 6 months from registering the application.432 In addition, if the case has been returned by the court to the migration department, it must be examined within 3 months. If an asylum applicant absconds, examination of the asylum application is terminated without prior suspension.

The regular asylum procedure in the Netherlands was undergoing a revision to be shortened from 8 days to 6 days, with the possibility to extend the procedure to 9 days if it is a complex case or a case involving an applicant with special needs. The public consultation process on the draft decree ended on 20 November 2020.433 

Several changes were implemented in Malta to improve the overall asylum system. On 7 August 2020, the International Protection Agency (IPA) was established to replace the Office of the Refugee Commissioner.434 On the same day, an amendment to the Refugees Act was approved to align national legislation with EU Directives, also yielding consequential amendments to the Procedural Standards for Granting and Withdrawing International Protection Regulations. The amendments included changes to granting and withdrawing international protection, updates to the definition of manifestly-unfounded applications, a new provision on the lapsing of international protection (unequivocal renunciation) and adding sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as a particular social group (see Section 5).435

A proposal was made in Slovenia to amend the International Protection Act to ensure, among other improvements, more rapid and efficient procedures while preventing abuse of the system.436 Sanctions would be in place for obstructing the implementation of the procedures and non-compliance with an applicant’s duties, and the grounds on which an asylum application can be rejected as manifestly unfounded were expanded.

Greece underwent institutional changes and on 15 January 2020 the new Ministry of Migration and Asylum was created.437 Law No 4686, Gov. Gazette A 96 of 12 May 2020 was passed, introducing various amendments to time limits; a registry of rapporteurs and working groups on various steps of the asylum procedure; the harmonisation of procedures between the Greek Asylum Service and first reception authorities; and automating the entire asylum process. UNHCR reiterated its concerns on the reduction of safeguards that it expressed when the initial Law on International Protection was enacted.438 Greece published the Joint Ministerial Decision on the procedure and criteria for the Register for Rapporteurs-Assistant Case Handlers for Asylum,439 and on 25 September 2020, the Greek Asylum Service launched the procedure to register rapporteurs in the regions of Samos, Lesvos and Chios.440 A registry of rapporteurs and assistants was also created for case officers.441 In December 2020, Greece adopted a new organigramme of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.442 Greece also clarified that when the applicant does not comply with the duty to cooperate, especially the duty to remain in communication with the authorities, the application or the appeal is presumed to be implicitly withdrawn. Previously, the application would have been examined under the rules for manifestly-unfounded applications.443
In Spain, the Ministry of the Interior issued a resolution to expedite asylum applications by nationals of African countries who had arrived on the Canary Islands as of 1 January 2021.

The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Portugal for failing to fully transpose the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, after a formal notice was sent by the European Commission in July 2019. Portugal was given
2 months to notify the European Commission of the measures taken to ensure the full transposition, and the case was closed in June 2021.444 Similar infringement procedures concerned Hungary, for which the CJEU already ruled in several judgments (see Section 4.1).



[426] Die neue Volkspartei, & Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative. (2020). Aus Verantwortung für Österreich – Regierungsprogramm 2020–2024 [From responsibility for Austria — Government programme 2020-2024].
[427] Законопроект за изменение и допълнение на Закона за убежището и бежанците, Държавен вестник брой 89 / 2020 г [Act amending and supplementing the Asylum and Refugees Act, State Gazette number 89/2020], October 13, 2020.
[428] Décret du 6 juillet 2020 relatif à la composition du Gouvernement, HRUX2017354D [Decree of 6 July 2020 on the Government's composition, HRUX2017354D].
[429] Laki henkilötietojen käsittelystä maahanmuuttohallinnossa, 615/2020 [Act on the Processing of Personal Data in the Field of Immigration Administration, 615/2020].
[430] 2020. évi XXXI. törvény egyes törvényeknek a polgárok biztonságát erősítő módosításáról [Law XXXI of 2020 on amending certain laws to strengthen citizens' security].
[431] Department of Justice and Equality | An Roinn Dlí Agus Cirt Agus Comhionannais. (2020, October 21). Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process.  
[432] XIII-3412 Lietuvos Respublikos įstatymo „Dėl užsieniečių teisinės padėties“ Nr. IX-2206 pakeitimo įstatymas [XIII-3412 Law amending the Law of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Legal Status of Aliens” No IX-2206].   
[433] Besluit van *** tot wijziging van het Vreemdelingenbesluit 2000, in verband met het regelen van de aanmeldfase, het vervallen van het eerste gehoor in de algemene asielprocedure en het doorvoeren van enkele technische aanpassingen [Decision of *** amending the Aliens Decree 2000, in relation to the regulation of the registration phase, the withdrawal of the first interview in the regular asylum procedure and the introduction of some other technical adjustments], 2020.
[434] Act No XL of 2020 to amend the Refugees Act.
[435] Act No XL of 2020 to amend the Refugees Act, Cap. 420.
[436] 1546-VIII Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah Zakona o mednarodni zaščiti [1546-VIII Act Amending the International Protection Act].!ut/p/z1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zivSy9Hb283Q0N3E3dLQwCQ7z9g7w8nAwsnMz1w9EUGAWZGgS6GDn5BhsYGwQHG-pHEaPfAAdwNCBOPx4FUfiNL8gNDQ11VFQEAAXcoa4!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/?uid=C1257A70003EE6A1C125863A0045E12A&db=kon_zak&mandat=VIII#
[437] Προεδρικό Διάταγμα Υπ’ Αριθμόν 4 ΦΕΚ Α’4/15-01-2020 Σύσταση Υπουργείου Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου, καθορισμός των αρμοδιοτήτων του και ανακατανομή αρμοδιοτήτων μεταξύ Υπουργείων [Presidential Decree No 4 Government Gazette Α’4/15-01-20 Establishment of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, definition of its responsibilities and redistribution of responsibilities between Ministries.
[438] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (February 2020). UNHCR Comments on the Law on "International Protection and other Provisions" (Greece).; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2020, May 9). UNHCR’s Intervention at the hearing for actors to the Standing Committee of Public Administration, Public Order and Justice of the Hellenic Parliament regarding the Draft Law on the Improvement of Migration Legislation. 
[439] Κοινή Υπουργική Απόφαση Αριθμ. 18348/2020 ΦΕΚ 3990/Β/17-09-2020 Διαδικασία και προϋποθέσεις εγγραφής στο Μητρώο Εισηγητών – Βοηθών χειριστών Ασύλου [Joint Ministerial Decision No 18348/2020 Government Gazette 3990/Β/17-09-2020 Procedure and conditions for registration in the Register of Rapporteurs - Assistant Asylum Operators]. 
[440] Υπουργειο Μεταναστευσης και Ασυλου. Decision - notice 19969/25.9.2020 Απόφαση – προκήρυξη 19969/25.9.2020 Έναρξη Διαδικασίας Επιλογής για Εγγραφή στο Μητρώο Βοηθών Εισηγητών [Ministry of Migration and Asylum Decision - notice 19969/25.9.2020 Initiation of the Selection Procedure for Registration in the Register of Assistant Rapporteurs].
[441] Nόμος Υπ’ Αριθμ. 4686: Βελτίωση της μεταναστευτικής νομοθεσίας, τροποποίηση διατάξεων των νόμων 4636/2019 (A΄ 169), 4375/2016 (A΄ 51), 4251/2014 (Α΄ 80) και άλλες διατάξεις [Law No 4686: Improving immigration legislation, amending Laws 4636/2019 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 169), 4375/2016 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 51), 4251/2014 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 80). Gov. Gaz. 96/Α/12-5-2020].
[442] Προεδρικό Διάταγμα Υπ’ Αριθμόν 106 ΦΕΚ 255/23-12-2020 Οργανισμός Υπουργείου Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου [Presidential Decree No 106 Government Gazette 255/23-12-2020 Agency of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum], December 23, 2020.
[443] Nόμος Υπ’ Αριθμ. 4686: Βελτίωση της μεταναστευτικής νομοθεσίας, τροποποίηση διατάξεων των νόμων 4636/2019 (A΄ 169), 4375/2016 (A΄ 51), 4251/2014 (Α΄ 80) και άλλες διατάξεις [Law No 4686: Improving immigration legislation, amending Laws 4636/2019 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 169), 4375/2016 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 51), 4251/2014 (Gov.Gaz. A’ 80). Gov. Gaz. 96/Α/12-5-2020].
[444] European Commission. (2020, October 30). October infringements package: key decisions.