Who is Who in International Protection in the EU+: Countries Applying the Concept of Safe Countries in the Asylum Procedure

In the context of asylum, the term ‘safe country’ refers to countries which generally do not generate protection needs for their people or countries in which asylum seekers are protected and are not in danger.
EU law provides four safe country concepts which can be applied in the asylum procedure. They are regulated in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive:
  • safe country of origin
  • safe third country
  • first country of asylum
  • European safe third country.
For countries not bound by the recast APD – namely Denmark,[1] Iceland, Ireland,[2] Norway and Switzerland[3] – a similar national legal framework applies. References to these countries should be read in relation to the applicable national legal framework. 

The overviews of countries applying the concept of safe countries  and  countries applying the concept of safe third countries were updated on 16 June 2023
The data visualisations present the countries which implement the concepts of a safe country of origin, a safe third country and a European safe third country in order to process an asylum application accordingly.​

Overview of countries applying the concept of safe countries      

Hover over a country and “click more" to view relevant information about the implementation of safe country concept in each country. 

Overview of countries applying the concept of safe third countries

Use the arrows at the top-left corner to navigate to the next data visualisation. Hover over a country and “click more" to view countries which have adopted a list of designated safe countries.​​

 Conclusions

  • The safe country of origin concept is common in the majority of EU+ countries.
  • Despite general agreement on the Top 5 countries of origin which are designated as safe, discrepancies among the rest prevail. This is particularly seen with EU candidate countries, highlighting the challenges in terms of convergence
  • Reference to the safe third country concept remains limited, both in terms including it in the national legal framework and also in practice.
  • The European safe third country concept has become redundant given the vagueness of relevant European provisions and the confusion with the safe third country concept.
  • The courts remain the guardians of the CEAS, both at the national and European levels, as they interpret relevant norms, define standards and ensure the proper implementation of the law.
  • Challenges remain with country assessments, the adoption of lists and application of the concept when special procedures and detention are involved.
  • To address specific challenges, relevant questions have been submitted by the European Parliament to the European Commission (see for instance P-000604/2021 and answer).​

 References

[1] Pursuant to Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Denmark is not bound by the recast APD nor by the 2005 Directive.

[2] Pursuant to Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the TFEU, and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, Ireland is not taking part in the adoption of the recast APD and is not bound by it or subject to its application. Ireland had previously transposed Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status. 

[3] Pursuant to EUAA Regulation 2021/2303, the Agency should be open to participation by countries which have concluded agreements with the Union by virtue of which they have adopted and apply EU law in the field covered by this Regulation, in particular Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Consequently, and having regard to the fact that Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland participate in the activities of EASO on the basis of arrangements concluded by those countries with the EU concerning their participation in EASO, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland should be able to participate in the activities of the Agency and contribute to the practical cooperation between Member States and the Agency in accordance with the terms and conditions established by existing or new arrangements. In this context, analysis by the EUAA includes Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.