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III
 (Preparatory acts)
 COUNCIL
 POSITION (EU) No 7/2010 OF THE COUNCIL AT FIRST READINGwith a view to the adoption of a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amendingDecision No 573/2007/EC establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 byremoving funding for certain Community actions and altering the limit for funding such actionsAdopted by the Council on 25 February 2010
 (2010/C 123 E/01)
 THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THEEUROPEAN UNION,
 Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EuropeanUnion, and in particular Article 78(2) thereof,Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure (
 1
 ),Whereas:
 (1)
The policy of the Union on the Common EuropeanAsylum System (the CEAS) is designed, under the termsof the Hague Programme, to establish a common asylumarea by means of an effective harmonised procedureconsistent with the values and humanitarian traditionof the European Union.
 (2)
Much progress has been made in recent years towardsthe establishment of the CEAS, thanks to the intro
­
duction of common minimum standards. There remaingreat disparities between the Member States, however, inthe granting of international protection and the formsthat such protection takes.
 (3)
In its Policy Plan on Asylum, adopted in June 2008, theCommission announced its intention to develop theCEAS by proposing a revision of the existing legalinstruments in order to achieve greater harmonisationof the applicable standards and by strengtheningsupport for practical cooperation between the MemberStates, in particular, by a legislative proposal to establisha European Asylum Support Office (the Support Office)in order to increase coordination of operational coop
­
eration between Member States so that the commonrules are implemented effectively.
 (4)
In the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum,adopted in September 2008, the European Councilsolemnly reiterated that any persecuted foreigner isentitled to obtain aid and protection on the territory of the European Union in application of the GenevaConvention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967, and other relevant treaties. It wasalso expressly agreed that a European support officewould be established in 2009.
 (5)
Practical cooperation on asylum aims to increaseconvergence and ensure ongoing quality of MemberStates' decision-making procedures in that area, withina European legislative framework. A substantial numberof practical cooperation measures has already beenundertaken in recent years, notably the adoption of acommon approach to information on countries of origin and the establishment of a common Europeanasylum curriculum. The Support Office should be estab
­
lished in order to strengthen and develop those coop
­
eration measures.
 (6)
In the interests of simplifying actions to support practicalcooperation on asylum matters, and in so far as theSupport Office should be entrusted with some of thetasks that are currently financed under the EuropeanRefugee Fund, it is necessary to transfer responsibility for some of the Community actions provided for inArticle 4 of Decision No 573/2007/EC (
 2
 ) from theEuropean Refugee Fund to the Support Office in orderto ensure the best possible practical cooperation onasylum matters.
EN
 12.5.2010 Official Journal of the European Union C 123 E/1
 (
 1
 ) Position of the European Parliament of 7 May 2009 (not yetpublished in the Official Journal), position of the Council at firstreading of … (not yet published in the Official Journal). Position of the European Parliament of … (not yet published in the OfficialJournal). (
 2
 ) OJ L 144, 6.6.2007, p. 1.
 
(7)
In order to take account of the reduced scope of theCommunity actions, the limit for their funding laiddown in Decision No 573/2007/EC should be reducedfrom 10 % of the Fund's available resources to 4 %thereof.
 (8)
The financial envelope for the implementation of Decision No 573/2007/EC should be reduced in orderto free up resources for funding the Support Office.
 (9)
In accordance with Article 3 of the Protocol on thePosition of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respectof the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed tothe Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on theFunctioning of the European Union, the United Kingdomand Ireland have notified their wish to take part in theadoption and application of this Decision.
 (10)
In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol onthe Position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty onEuropean Union and to the Treaty on the Functioningof the European Union, Denmark is not taking part inthe adoption of this Decision and is not bound by it norsubject to its application,
 HAVE ADOPTED THIS DECISION:
 Article 1
 Decision No 573/2007/EC is hereby amended as follows:1) Article 4 is amended as follows:a) in paragraph 1, the figure ‘10 %’ is replaced by the figure‘4 %’;b) in paragraph 2, points (a) and (f) are deleted;2) Article 12(1) is replaced by the following:‘1. The financial envelope for the implementation of thisDecision from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2013 shallbe EUR 614 million.’.
 Article 2
 This Decision shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the
Official Journal of theEuropean Union
.
 Article 3
 This Decision is addressed to the Member States in accordancewith the Treaties.
 Article 4
 This Decision shall be published in the
Official Journal of theEuropean Union
.Done at …
 For the European ParliamentThe President
 
 For the CouncilThe President
 
EN
 C 123 E/2 Official Journal of the European Union 12.5.2010
 
STATEMENT OF THE COUNCIL'S REASONS
 I.
INTRODUCTION
 On 18 February 2009, the Commission adopted the proposal amending the Decision on the EuropeanRefugee Fund (ERF) (
 1
 ) which accompanied the proposal for a Regulation establishing a EuropeanAsylum Support Office (EASO) (
 2
 ).On 7 May 2009, the European Parliament adopted first reading Opinions on respectively the ERFDecision on which no amendments were proposed (
 3
 ) and the EASO Regulation which set out 40amendments to the Commission proposal (
 4
 ).On 25 February 2010, the Council adopted its position at first reading on both proposals in accordancewith Article 294 of the Treaty.On 5-7 October 2009, the Committee of the Regions adopted an Opinion on The future CommonEuropean Asylum System II (
 5
 ) containing several recommendations regarding the EASO Regulation.
 II.
OBJECTIVE OF THE PROPOSAL
 The ERF Decision is being amended to take account of changes created by the establishment of theEuropean Asylum Support Office and, in particular, to enable the Office assuming responsibility forcertain operations that have until now been financed by the refugee fund. The European AsylumSupport Office is directed to improving the implementation of the Common European AsylumSystem, strengthening practical cooperation among Member States on asylum and provision and/orcoordination of operational support to Member States facing specific and disproportionate pressureson their national asylum systems.
 III.
ANALYSIS OF THE COUNCIL'S POSITION AT FIRST READING
 General
 The negotiations took place in a policy context shaped by the Hague programme which sets out theobjectives and the instruments in the field of justice and home affairs for the period 2005-2010. TheEuropean Council expressed its commitment to further develop the Common European Asylum Systemthrough amending the legislative framework and strengthening practical and collaborative cooperation,inter alia by establishing a European Asylum Support Office. Subsequently, in the European Pact onImmigration and Asylum of October 2008, the European Council agreed to establish such an office in2009.In accordance with Article 3 of the Protocol on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland inrespect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to theTreaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the United Kingdom and Ireland have notified theirwish to take part in the adoption and application of this Decision.In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol on the Position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Denmark is nottaking part in the adoption of the ERF Decision and is not bound by it nor subject to its application.In line with the provisions of the Joint Declaration on practical arrangements for the co-decisionprocedure (
 6
 ), representatives of Council, Parliament and the Commission engaged in contacts with aview to concluding an agreement at the stage of the Council's position at first reading. These contactsresulted in an agreement on the texts concerning the EASO Regulation and the ERF Decision.
EN
 12.5.2010 Official Journal of the European Union C 123 E/3
 (
 1
 ) 6702/09 ASILE 6 CADREFIN 7 CODEC 213.(
 2
 ) 6700/09 ASILE 5 CODEC 212 + ADD 1, 2.(
 3
 ) T6-0375/2009, 7.5.2009.(
 4
 ) T6-0379/2009, 7.5.2009. (
 5
 ) CdR 90/2009 fin.(
 6
 ) OJ C 148, 28.5.1999, p. 1.

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