Refugees to be awarded long-term residency

EU long-term residency extended to refugees living in Malta for over five years.

The European Council adopted yesterday an extension of the EU rules on long-term residents that will give refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection long-term resident status on a similar basis as other third-country nationals legally living in the EU for more than five years.

Member states will have to comply with the new rules within two years. The UK, Ireland and Denmark are not taking part in the application of these rules.

Beneficiaries of international protection who are granted long-term residents status will, as all other third-country nationals with long-term residents status, enjoy the right to free movement within the EU, and in particular the right to become a resident in another EU member, as well as under certain conditions, equality of treatment with citizens of the EU member state in which they reside in a wide range of economic and social matters.

These include education, access to the labour market and social security benefits. The new rules constitute an instrument for better integration of beneficiaries of international protection that live in their host society for a long period of time.

The Directive will provide for dedicated arrangements for the calculation of the five years required for long-term resident status to be granted: the basic rule is that at least half of the period between the date on which the application for international protection was lodged and the date on which it is granted should be taken into account.

In exceptional cases where the asylum procedure takes more than 18 months, the whole period should be taken into account.

The directive also foresees, in certain specific circumstances, possibilities to withdraw the status and expel the third-country national, in accordance with international obligations.

The Commission published its proposal to amend Directive 2003/109/EC on 8 June 2007. The Council discussed the proposal but failed to reach unanimous agreement on it in 2008.

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the legal migration issues fall under the ordinary legislative procedure with qualified majority required in Council.

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