The Recast Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU: Caught between the stereotypes of the abusive asylum seeker and the vulnerable refugee
Cathryn Costello, Emily Hancox (forthcoming)
Forthcoming in V. Chetail, P. De Bruycker & F. Maiani (eds) 'Reforming the Common European Asylum System: The New European Refugee Law' (Martinus Nijhoff, 2015). Available at SSRN:- This piece provides a detailed analysis of the Recast Asylum Procedures Directive (Recast APD). Although we are now two decades into harmonization of asylum procedures at the European Union (EU) level, we begin in Part 2 by revisiting the rationale for this process. We contend that the most persuasive rationale for procedural harmonization, in an EU legally committed to refugee protection, is to ensure fair procedures, and to prevent a race to the bottom in procedural standards. Efficiency must serve fairness, not vice versa. The original Asylum Procedures Directive (APD) failed to meet this aim by a long margin. The Recast APD is the product of the new, post-Lisbon legislative environment, so as Part 3 suggests, it comes with high hopes for improvement, particularly given the Parliament’s relatively new role as co-legislator on asylum matters. Our analysis reveals that the Recast APD contains many improvements on its predecessor, but overall our assessment is mixed, particularly if we assess it in terms of the objective of setting clear basic minimum standards of fairness. We attempt to explain this ambivalent outcome by suggesting that the Directive reflects two competing stereotypical views of the asylum seeker. On the one hand, there is a strong notion that asylum procedures must work to weed out ‘abusive’ claims. In contrast, there is also a strong acknowledgement that some asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable or have special needs (as will be seen, different terminologies are used in different contexts). As we argue, these stereotypes create complexity, and crowd out the basic notion of refugee status determination (RSD) as a process for recognising refugees, on the assumption that many (although of course not all) of those who apply will be so recognised.