The Commission welcomes the agreement that the European Parliament and the Council have just found to transform the European Asylum Support Office into a European Union Agency of Asylum. It is a key initiative under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The new agency will help make asylum procedures in Member States of higher quality, more uniform and faster. Its new reserve of 500 experts will also provide more effective support to national asylum systems facing a high caseload, making the overall EU migration management system more efficient and sustainable.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “When we presented our proposal for an EU Pact on Migration and Asylum last September, we were aiming at creating a coherent and well-functioning European asylum system. Today's agreement, is a first important building block in this process. Member States will now be able to rely on the full operational support of the EU Asylum Agency, both under normal circumstances and when they are in difficulty. The agency will make a tangible difference to asylum procedures, improving protection for individuals and addressing gaps to create greater convergence between Member States' asylum systems.”
A stronger agency to support the EU's asylum system
Building on the experience of the European Asylum Support Office, the new agency will have a reinforced mandate that will contribute to:
More efficient asylum systems through greater operational and technical support to Member States, including training, preparedness, information analysis, and exchange of information.
Improved assistance on request: A reserve of 500 experts including interpreters, case handlers or reception specialists will be ready to be deployed as part of asylum support teams at the request of Member States. Agency experts will have the mandate to prepare the entire administrative asylum procedure for decision by national authorities, and offer assistance in the appeal stage.
Uniform, high-quality decision-making by developing operational standards, indicators, guidelines and best practices for the implementation of Union law on asylum.
Better monitoring and reporting on Member States' asylum and reception systems to ensure more consistent practices throughout Europe, fully in line with EU law. The Commission will be able to issue recommendations with assistance measures.
Capacity building in non-EU countries to improve asylum and reception systems and support EU and Member State resettlement schemes, building on the existing cooperation with UN agencies.
Despite the pandemic, the EASO Asylum Report 2021 highlights the resilience of many EU+ countries’ asylum systems in using innovative solutions for business continuity. Resources were allocated to adapt working methods, implement digital solutions and reduce pending cases. However, ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) urges that shortcomings were also exposed, notably in terms of reception conditions.
The agreement reached needs to be formally endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council. As soon as the new regulation has entered into force (20 days after publication in the Official Journal), the European Asylum Support Office will become the EU Agency for Asylum and will be able to act based on its new mandate.
This agreement is the second legislative agreement on New Pact proposals, following agreement on the Blue Card Directive in May. Operational aspects of the New Pact are also already being implemented, such as enhanced work on the external dimension of migration policy, stronger coordination on returns, or the deployment of European Border and Coast Guard standing corps. Negotiations on the remaining legislative proposals continue in the European Parliament and the Council.
Since taking up its responsibilities in 2011, EASO has continuously supported Member States in applying EU asylum rules, by providing national country of origin information to encourage more uniform decisions, training and setting up dedicated networks of national authorities to enhance operational cooperation on asylum-related matters.
Building on EASO's work, the Commission proposed a Regulation of the European Union Agency for Asylum in 2016. Co-legislators found a first provisional agreement on the proposal in June 2017, but the conclusion of the process was put on hold. The proposal was then integrated into the New Pact on Asylum and Migration of September 2020, with the Commission calling on co-legislators for a swift adoption of the regulation.
In 2021, EASO is working with a budget of €142 million and some 500 staff. Asylum support teams are present in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain. Over the past 10 years, EASO registered 40% of all asylum applications in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, carried out 80% of best interest assessments for children in Greece and supported all post disembarkation relocations from Cyprus, Italy and Malta.
Source: European Commission Press Corner