The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Belgium and in the EU (EMN)

The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of the organisation of reception facilities for asylum seekers in the different Member States and to identify good practices and existing mechanisms for efficient and flexible reception facilities whilst ensuring quality.

Belgian study

This national report of the Belgian EMN NCP describes:

  • The different types of reception facilities for asylum seekers and actors involved in the organisation of reception.
  • The factors determining access to the different types of facilities (on what basis applicants are allocated to different types of reception facilities).
  • The quality criteria for reception facilities, the control mechanisms and evaluations of the quality of reception facilities.
  • The flexibility of the reception system and how to adjust to fluctuating numbers of applications over time.
  • The costs of the reception system and to what extent the reception system is cost efficient.
  • Conclusions on the organisation of reception facilities, indicating main strengths and weaknesses, and conclusions on the handling of the reception crisis and controlling the costs of reception facilities whilst ensuring quality.  

The report is only available in English.

The national report of other member states can be consulted via this link.

On 25 October 2013 the Belgian National Contact Point organised a conference on the reception of asylum seekers in Belgium and the EU. More information can be found here.

EU Synthesis report

The synthesis report is based on contributions from EMN National Contact Points in 23 Member States and Norway. An EMN Inform summarises the findings from the study.

Some key points:

  • The Recast Reception Conditions Directive aims to ensure adequate and comparable reception conditions throughout the EU. However, Member states report difficulties to ensure this in practice.
  • The organisation of reception facilities differs greatly amongst Member States. Unequal treatment between and within Member States may result, in some cases, in sub-standard reception conditions. Coordination, implementation of regulation and (external) control mechanisms could be further developed as a tool to ensure homogenity.
  • The special reception needs of vulnerable persons are taken into account by Member States but further efforts are required to ensure that the appropriate standards are met.
  • Most States report having experienced pressure on their asylum system between 2008 and 2013 resulting from high and/or sudden influx of applicants, internal organisational challenges or pressure from other dimensions of the asylum system.


Good practices to ensure flexibility of reception systems include:

  • Prepardness: early warning mechanism, emergency plan and maintenance of buffer capacity (+/- 15% of total capacity)
  • Mitigate the negative effects: speeding up decision-making process, budget flexibility
  • Respond to pressure: creation of new facilities or new places within existing facilities. In case of temporary pressure, use of emergency structures (hotels, unused facilities,...). This is a temporary necessary evil rather than a good practice.
  • Chain managment: the reception process should be understood as a continuum. Member states can undertake measures at different stages of the process by limiting inflow, increasing capacity, making the asylum procedure more efficient, facilitating outflow, and/or operating an effective return or settlement policy.


Basic material reception conditions are provided in different ways by Member States, either in kind, through financial allowance, or by a combination of both and they vary greatly. To ensure quality most Member States have adopted internal control mechanisms.


In several Member States the efficient use of reception facilities is in particular reduced by a difficult outflow as a certain tension exists between efficiency and humanitarian considerations with continued residence in the reception system for rejected applicants and beneficiaries of international protection.

Publication Date:
Fri 06 Sep 2013
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