Overview of the main changes since the previous report update

France

Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 30/11/20

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The previous update of the report was published in March 2019.

 

Asylum procedure

  • Access to the territory: In 2019 France notified the European Commission of the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders. The first temporary border control applied from the period of 1 May to 31 October 2019; while the second temporary border control is valid since 1 November and up until 30 April 2020.[1] The Council of State has further validated in October 2019 a decision of reintroduction of temporary border controls that had been taken in 2018.[2] The practice of systematic refusal of entry of persons arriving at the Italian land border persisted in 2019 regardless of protection needs of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors.

 

  • Registration of asylum applications: The average waiting time to register asylum claims has decreased since 2018. However, in July 2019, the Council of State confirmed that waiting times remained an issue and ordered the authorities to take measures to comply with the time limits laid down in law.[3] In the Ile-de-France region, asylum seekers face an additional administrative layer in the registration process resulting from the telephone appointment system operated by the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII). In November 2019, the Administrative Court of Paris thus ordered the Prefecture to increase the number of daily appointments. [4]

 

  • Asylum procedure: Decentralised missions in French cities out of the Paris region almost doubled from 23 in 2018 to 42 in 2019 with the aim to accelerate the examination of asylum claims. The use of videoconferencing for the purpose of hearings at the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) was suspended following protests of lawyers, which lead to the appointment of a mediator to find an agreement between them and the Court. Since no solution was found at the end of 2019, the use of videoconferencing was still suspended.

 

  • Dublin procedure: The regionalisation plan implemented in 2018, whereby only one Prefecture per region (pôle régional) is responsible for the Dublin procedure, was consolidated in 2019.

 

  • Age assessments: On 21 March 2019 the French Constitutional Court ruled that bone tests determining the age of young migrants are not unconstitutional, stating that the existence of a margin of error does not make the use of the test unconstitutional.[5] Civil society organisations are further concerned about the evaluation system which has deteriorated in certain circumstances following the introduction in 2018 of an automated database aiming at “better guaranteeing child protection and at the prevention of illegal entry and stay of foreigners in France”.[6] As a result, all young persons applying for support as unaccompanied children are now required to register at Prefectures by providing their personal information, including fingerprints, photographs and relevant documents.

 

Reception conditions

 

  • Financial allowance: Since November 2019, the credit card on which the financial allowance is being provided to asylum seekers can no longer be used for withdrawing cash. The card can only be used for payments, both online and in shops. This limits the possible use of money by asylum seekers, and has been strongly criticized by NGOs.

 

  1. Housing: France is still failing to meet its obligation to provide accommodation to all asylum seekers as less than 50% of asylum seekers were accommodated at the end of 2019. Due to the lack of places, several informal camps are still present in Paris as of early 2020, despite many dismantlement operations by the authorities. In Calais, police evictions have increased to record levels according to a report published in 2019. [7]

 

  • Health care: Since January 2020, a 3 months residence requirement applies to all asylum seekers before they can benefit from the universal healthcare insurance (PUMA). The aim of this measure, severely criticised by NGOs and several institutions, seems to be to discourage people to come to France and apply for asylum for health reasons.

 

  • Special reception needs of vulnerable groups: In 2019, the Ministry of Interior ordered the Prefectures to increase the number of places for asylum seekers with disabilities and to establish places dedicated to women who are victims of violence or trafficking. About 300 places dedicated to these vulnerable women have been created in 2019. However, the objective of having 2% of places dedicated to persons with disabilities has not been reach in 2019 and must be achieved in 2020.

 

Detention of asylum seekers

 

  • Detention conditions: In 2019, the maximum length of detention has been extended from 45 to 90 days.[8] As a result, tensions and violence in detention centres are increasing.

 

Content of international protection

 

  • Housing: In 2019, 3,503 new places were created in temporary accommodation centres (Centres provisoires d’hébergement, CPH) for beneficiaries of international protection. The actual overall capacity of CPH reaches 8,710 places.

 

  • Education: The number of hours of French classes that must be attended by beneficiaries of international protection has increased from 240 to 400 hours in 2019.  


[1]  European Commission, ‘Member States’ notifications of the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders pursuant to Article 25 et seq. of the Schengen Borders Code’, available at: https://bit.ly/2NvEDGs.

[2] Council of State, 16 October 2019, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2wHgW8p.

[3]  Council of State, 31 July 2019, Decision 410347, available in French at: https://bit.ly/38jVdRH.

[4]  Administrative Court of Paris, Order 1924867/9, 25 November 2019, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3ajddxq.

[5] Constitutional Court, 2018-768, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2EjEYb8.

[6]  Article L.611-6-1 Ceseda, inserted by Article 51 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[7] The Human Rights Observers Project, Forced Evictions in Calais and Grande-Synthe, June 2019, https://bit.ly/2KHQoK7.

[8]  Article L.552-7 Ceseda, as amended by Article 29 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation