Asylum seekers in the European Union will be offered language lessons as soon as they arrive and will be allowed to work six months after requesting asylum, instead of the current nine months.

The European Parliament and Council negotiators reached a provisional deal on June 14 about the new Qualification Regulation, which establishes EU-wide rules on granting international protection and the rights for the beneficiaries.

The new measures, which are part of the revised Reception Conditions Directive, are aimed at ensuring that reception standards are the same in all EU countries. The aim is to reduce “secondary movements” within the EU and, subsequently, guaranteeing a fairer distribution of applicants among countries.

Those applying for international protection will also be entitled to primary and secondary health care, including mental as well as sexual and reproductive health care. In addition, children should enter the school system no later than two months after arrival.

Also, EU member states must ensure that every unaccompanied minor gets a guardian from the moment they arrive in the EU. And detention of minors will only be allowed to maintain family unity or to protect them.

“People are fleeing from violence and conflict across the world. Simply closing our eyes and covering our ears will not make this reality disappear,” said Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP (ALDE, NL), rapporteur. “We can handle these refugee flows only if we act together. With today’s breakthrough deal, we are one step closer to an effective and humane European asylum policy. We have demonstrated that the EU is able to reach agreement on issues as sensitive and complex as asylum and migration policies.”

“Although there were substantial differences between the positions of Parliament and the Member States, all parties concerned worked constructively towards common solutions,” added Sophie in ‘t Veld. “We are very pleased that just days before World Refugee Day on June 20th, we have concluded our talks and demonstrated that the EU is able to reach agreement on issues as sensitive and complex as asylum and migration policies.”

Under the law, which will be directly applicable, recognised refugees should get a three-year minimum renewable residence permit, while beneficiaries of subsidiary protection should have the right to a one-year permit, renewable for at least two years. No later than 15 days after being granted protection, they should get at least a provisional document proving their rights.

“With this agreement, the rules for obtaining international protection become clearer and more coherent across the EU, significantly improving the existing directive,” said Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL), Parliament’s rapporteur. “By securing high standards for the beneficiaries, we provide them with a real opportunity to integrate, while also preventing an increased financial and administrative burden for the Member States. This is a victory for the future of the Common European Asylum System.”