contents table
Reception Conditions Directive



of 26 June 2013

laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast)


  • Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 78(2)(f) thereof,
  • Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,
  • Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(1),
  • Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(2),
  • Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure(3),


  1. A number of substantive changes are to be made to Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers(4). In the interests of clarity, that Directive should be recast.
  2. A common policy on asylum, including a Common European Asylum System, is a constituent part of the European Union’s objective of progressively establishing an area of freedom, security and justice open to those who, forced by circumstances, legitimately seek protection in the Union. Such a policy should be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the Member States.
  3. At its special meeting in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999, the European Council agreed to work towards establishing a Common European Asylum System, based on the full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, as supplemented by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967 (the Geneva Convention), thus affirming the principle of non-refoulement. The first phase of a Common European Asylum System was achieved through the adoption of relevant legal instruments, including Directive 2003/9/EC, provided for in the Treaties.
  4. The European Council, at its meeting of 4 November 2004, adopted The Hague Programme, which set the objectives to be implemented in the area of freedom, security and justice in the period 2005-2010. In this respect, The Hague Programme invited the European Commission to conclude the evaluation of the first-phase instruments and to submit the second-phase instruments and measures to the European Parliament and to the Council.
  5. The European Council, at its meeting of 10-11 December 2009, adopted the Stockholm Programme, which reiterated the commitment to the objective of establishing by 2012 a common area of protection and solidarity based on a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for those granted international protection based on high protection standards and fair and effective procedures. The Stockholm Programme further provides that it is crucial that individuals, regardless of the Member State in which their application for international protection is made, are offered an equivalent level of treatment as regards reception conditions.
  6. The resources of the European Refugee Fund and of the European Asylum Support Office should be mobilised to provide adequate support to Member States’ efforts in implementing the standards set in the second phase of the Common European Asylum System, in particular to those Member States which are faced with specific and disproportionate pressures on their asylum systems, due in particular to their geographical or demographic situation.
  7. In the light of the results of the evaluations undertaken of the implementation of the first-phase instruments, it is appropriate, at this stage, to confirm the principles underlying Directive 2003/9/EC with a view to ensuring improved reception conditions for applicants for international protection (applicants).
  8. In order to ensure equal treatment of applicants throughout the Union, this Directive should apply during all stages and types of procedures concerning applications for international protection, in all locations and facilities hosting applicants and for as long as they are allowed to remain on the territory of the Member States as applicants.
  9. In applying this Directive, Member States should seek to ensure full compliance with the principles of the best interests of the child and of family unity, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms respectively.
  10. With respect to the treatment of persons falling within the scope of this Directive, Member States are bound by obligations under instruments of international law to which they are party.
  11. Standards for the reception of applicants that will suffice to ensure them a dignified standard of living and comparable living conditions in all Member States should be laid down.
  12. The harmonisation of conditions for the reception of applicants should help to limit the secondary movements of applicants influenced by the variety of conditions for their reception.
  13. With a view to ensuring equal treatment amongst all applicants for international protection and guaranteeing consistency with current EU asylum acquis, in particular with Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted(5), it is appropriate to extend the scope of this Directive in order to include applicants for subsidiary protection.
  14. The reception of persons with special reception needs should be a primary concern for national authorities in order to ensure that such reception is specifically designed to meet their special reception needs.
  15. The detention of applicants should be applied in accordance with the underlying principle that a person should not be held in detention for the sole reason that he or she is seeking international protection, particularly in accordance with the international legal obligations of the Member States and with Article 31 of the Geneva Convention. Applicants may be detained only under very clearly defined exceptional circumstances laid down in this Directive and subject to the principle of necessity and proportionality with regard to both to the manner and the purpose of such detention. Where an applicant is held in detention he or she should have effective access to the necessary procedural guarantees, such as judicial remedy before a national judicial authority.
  16. With regard to administrative procedures relating to the grounds for detention, the notion of due diligence at least requires that Member States take concrete and meaningful steps to ensure that the time needed to verify the grounds for detention is as short as possible, and that there is a real prospect that such verification can be carried out successfully in the shortest possible time. Detention shall not exceed the time reasonably needed to complete the relevant procedures.
  17. The grounds for detention set out in this Directive are without prejudice to other grounds for detention, including detention grounds within the framework of criminal proceedings, which are applicable under national law, unrelated to the third country national’s or stateless person’s application for international protection.
  18. Applicants who are in detention should be treated with full respect for human dignity and their reception should be specifically designed to meet their needs in that situation. In particular, Member States should ensure that Article 37 of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is applied.
  19. There may be cases where it is not possible in practice to immediately ensure certain reception guarantees in detention, for example due to the geographical location or the specific structure of the detention facility. However, any derogation from those guarantees should be temporary and should only be applied under the circumstances set out in this Directive. Derogations should only be applied in exceptional circumstances and should be duly justified, taking into consideration the circumstances of each case, including the level of severity of the derogation applied, its duration and its impact on the applicant concerned.
  20. In order to better ensure the physical and psychological integrity of the applicants, detention should be a measure of last resort and may only be applied after all non-custodial alternative measures to detention have been duly examined. Any alternative measure to detention must respect the fundamental human rights of applicants.
  21. In order to ensure compliance with the procedural guarantees consisting in the opportunity to contact organisations or groups of persons that provide legal assistance, information should be provided on such organisations and groups of persons.
  22. When deciding on housing arrangements, Member States should take due account of the best interests of the child, as well as of the particular circumstances of any applicant who is dependent on family members or other close relatives such as unmarried minor siblings already present in the Member State.
  23. In order to promote the self-sufficiency of applicants and to limit wide discrepancies between Member States, it is essential to provide clear rules on the applicants’ access to the labour market.
  24. To ensure that the material support provided to applicants complies with the principles set out in this Directive, it is necessary that Member States determine the level of such support on the basis of relevant references. That does not mean that the amount granted should be the same as for nationals. Member States may grant less favourable treatment to applicants than to nationals as specified in this Directive.
  25. The possibility of abuse of the reception system should be restricted by specifying the circumstances in which material reception conditions for applicants may be reduced or withdrawn while at the same time ensuring a dignified standard of living for all applicants.
  26. The efficiency of national reception systems and cooperation among Member States in the field of reception of applicants should be secured.
  27. Appropriate coordination should be encouraged between the competent authorities as regards the reception of applicants, and harmonious relationships between local communities and accommodation centres should therefore be promoted.
  28. Member States should have the power to introduce or maintain more favourable provisions for third-country nationals and stateless persons who ask for international protection from a Member State.
  29. In this spirit, Member States are also invited to apply the provisions of this Directive in connection with procedures for deciding on applications for forms of protection other than that provided for under Directive 2011/95/EU.
  30. The implementation of this Directive should be evaluated at regular intervals.
  31. Since the objective of this Directive, namely to establish standards for the reception of applicants in Member States, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale and effects of this Directive, be better achieved at the Union level, the Union may adopt measures in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.
  32. In accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents of 28 September 2011(6), Member States have undertaken to accompany, in justified cases, the notification of their transposition measures with one or more documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments. With regard to this Directive, the legislator considers the transmission of such documents to be justified.
  33. In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 and Article 4a(1) of 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 TEU, and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, the United Kingdom and Ireland are not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and are not bound by it or subject to its application.
  34. In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application.
  35. This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular, this Directive seeks to ensure full respect for human dignity and to promote the application of Articles 1, 4, 6, 7, 18, 21, 24 and 47 of the Charter and has to be implemented accordingly.
  36. The obligation to transpose this Directive into national law should be confined to those provisions which represent a substantive change as compared with Directive 2003/9/EC. The obligation to transpose the provisions which are unchanged arises under that Directive.
  37. This Directive should be without prejudice to the obligations of the Member States relating to the time-limit for transposition into national law of Directive 2003/9/EC set out in Annex II, Part B,