Dáil Éireann - Volume 591 - 03 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

  99. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason Ireland is not participating in the Council directive laying down minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in member states whose Article 13 proposes that EU member states be required to put in place rules that do not exclude the access of applicants for asylum and their accompanying family members from the labour market six months after they have lodged their application. [27280/04]

[1214]   Mr. McDowell:I refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 405 and 293 on 5 October and 27 October 2004, respectively. The position remains unchanged.

The EU legal instrument referred to in the Deputy’s question is Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers. This directive is covered by Title IV of the EU Treaties and by the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland under which the State has an option to participate in its provisions. Many of the key provisions of the directive, although the responsibility of a number of Departments and agencies, are already covered by national procedures and, in many areas, our national standards exceed those provided for in the directive. The modalities and implications of the exercise of this option in respect of this particular directive are under consideration at present.

By way of clarification, I point out that Article 11 rather than Article 13 of the directive addresses the issue of access to employment. That article provides, inter alia,that member states shall determine a period of time, starting from the date on which an application for asylum was lodged, during which an applicant shall not have access to the labour market. If a first instance decision has not been taken within one year of the presentation of an application for asylum and this delay cannot be attributed to the applicant, member states shall decide the conditions for granting access to the labour market for the applicant. The article further provides that for reasons of labour market policies, member states may give priority to EU citizens and nationals of states parties to the agreement on the European Economic Area and also to legally resident third country nationals.