ENS Statement to Spain’s Presidency of the European Union on Addressing Statelessness in Europe


As our members and partners prepare to gather for a landmark conference in Madrid next week (8/9 June), we are releasing a public statement to Spain’s upcoming Presidency of the European Union with recommendations on key action needed to address statelessness in Europe. Given the particular opportunity presented by the ongoing negotiations on the EU Migration & Asylum Pact, we have also prepared a briefing containing updated analysis and recommendations in order to help support those involved with the process.




We welcome our ongoing dialogue with the Spanish government who will be represented at the conference. They will be joined in Madrid by State officials from across Europe, representatives of regional institutions, civil society and stateless changemakers, providing an important opportunity to help drive change forward.

Despite a welcome shift towards recognition of the need for more concerted action to combat statelessness in recent years, disappointingly, only a handful of European States have put in place functioning statelessness determination procedures to implement their obligations in practice. Without proper identification mechanisms and a route by which they can regularise their residence status many stateless people are left at risk of a range of rights violations including long term destitution and unlawful immigration detention. Few are in a position to break this cycle, and, as a consequence, are left in legal limbo for years.

The failure to properly identify statelessness impacts negatively on the operation of asylum systems and prevents stateless refugees and migrants from accessing the full scope of rights and services to which they are entitled under international law. The ongoing negotiation of the EU Migration and Asylum Pact provides an immediate opportunity to mainstream statelessness across EU asylum systems and resolve many of the problems that arise from a failure to identify and address issues facing displaced stateless people. This includes an avoidable risk of statelessness currently faced by the children of some refugees and migrants in Europe.


We are making five key recommendations for when Spain assumes the Presidency of the EU on 1 July 2023, encouraging it to: 

  • Initiate a review of progress implementing the 2015 Council Conclusions on Statelessness, while also drawing on conclusions from the Madrid conference to develop and negotiate new EU Council Conclusions on Statelessness.
  • Work with the European Commission, Member States, UNHCR, civil society, people and communities with experience of statelessness and other relevant actors to ensure that new Council Conclusions or other proposed Presidency initiatives translate into effective and coordinated EU-wide action to address statelessness, crucially to encourage all Member States to set up statelessness determination procedures.
  • Ensure that statelessness is integrated and addressed as a cross-cutting issue through ongoing negotiations on the EU Migration and Asylum Pact.
  • Urge Member States in their national practice to ensure that all children born in their territory regardless of their legal status or their parents’ status or identity documents are registered at birth, and ensure that all children acquire nationality where they would otherwise be stateless.
  • Make accession to the two UN Statelessness Conventions and their full implementation by all EU Member States a priority.

Spain has one of the longest established statelessness determination procedures in Europe, as well as a strong legal framework to prevent childhood statelessness. We are therefore urging Spain to use its Presidency of the EU as a platform from which to galvanise improvement to law, policy and practice on statelessness in all EU Member States.


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