25th Management Board meeting held against backdrop of increase in EASO activities
- 27th September 2017
On 26 and 27 September 2017, the Management Board of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) met in Valletta, Malta to discuss the increasing activities of the Agency over the past few months.
The meeting, Chaired by Mr. Wolfgang Taucher, discussed the latest trends in asylum across Europe and took stock of EASO’s efforts to support Member States in meeting their pledges under the EU Emergency Relocation Scheme that was recently concluded. Commenting after the meeting, Mr. Taucher noted the unity that was present in the room, wherein the contribution of EASO to supporting asylum systems in the EU is of significant value. Nevertheless, the situation remains fragile and many members of the Management Board reiterated the need for EASO to continue its activities.
The Executive Director of EASO, Mr. José Carreira, briefed the Management Board on preparations being made to be ready to implement the new mandate expected for the Agency once the legislative process on the Proposal to transform EASO into the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) is concluded. Mr. Carreira explained that the future tasks of the Agency are expected to expand in many areas, including with regard to country guidance by which it supports Member States’ procedures and efficiency. The meeting also discussed the new role that the Management Board will have in overseeing the expanded mandate of the Agency once the EUAA is established.
EASO officials gave a detailed presentation on the latest increased operational developments of the Agency, including in the hotspots in Italy and Greece, as well as in Cyprus. Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Ms. Patricia Van De Peer, EASO’s Head of the Departments of Asylum Support and of Operations stated that EASO now has a total of around 500 staff deployed in all of its operations, including interpreters, cultural mediators and experts.
These experts have been providing technical and operational assistance to the Member States hosting the operations, including by providing information to potential applicants for relocation, giving support in the processing of applications for international protection, conducting interviews with applicants, providing opinions to Greek and Italian authorities and handling outgoing Dublin take-charge requests. Furthermore, EASO has been providing interpretation services for interviews, running information hotlines for applicants as well as detecting possible document fraud, amongst other activities.
With specific regard to the EU Emergency Relocation Scheme, EASO also facilitates direct cooperation and exchange of information between National Contact Points (NCPs) of the Member States of Relocation and Italy and Greece, monitors the overall relocation process and develops tools in support of specific steps in the relocation procedure.
On Cyprus, EASO informed the Management Board of the progress that has been made in implementing new measures agreed to in an amendment to the EASO Special Support Plan. Under this amendment, which was signed with Cyprus on 28 February 2017, EASO is supplementing its continued implementation of the initial support measures with new activities on backlog management and contingency measures. As part of the agreement, EASO is now planning to deploy eight experts at a time, specialised in backlog management. The Agency has also been deploying 2-3 experts at the Kofinou reception center, assisting in vulnerability assessment, social assistance, and additional capacity building activities.
The Management Board also devoted particular attention to EASO’s External Dimension Strategy, including a focus on the support being provided to implement the EU-Turkey Statement as well as numerous capacity-building projects in the Western Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East.
Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Carreira stated that the meeting had shown a clear consensus amongst Member States on the success which EASO has been having through its increased activities. He also noted that expectations remain high and that the Agency will be working very hard in the coming months in order to meet these, as well as to continue to prepare for the establishment of the EUAA.
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