On 13 and 14 June 2017, EASO’s Management Board convened in Valletta to receive updates on the implementation of EASO’s work programme for 2017, to discuss the EASO’s General Activity Report and the upcoming Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the EU, and to explore EASO’s readiness for its future mandate.
During the 24th meeting, amongst other topics, members discussed the variation in recognition rates and how more convergence can be achieved across Europe in asylum decision practices. One of the possible reasons behind the variations in recognition rates is the different assessments made in Member States of the situation in a specific country of origin, and the interpretation of certain legal concepts. This also lead to an interesting debate on the pilot exercise undertaken by EASO, which aims to develop a common analysis on the situation in Afghanistan with the goal of realizing more convergence in decisions on applications from Afghan nationals.
Further, the Management Board discussed EASO’s operational support in the hotspots and relocation from Italy and Greece, EASO’s activities in the framework of the EU-Turkey Statement and its support to Bulgaria and Cyprus. One new development to single out is the recently finalised matching tool for relocation, which aims at maximizing the chances of a smooth integration, the cornerstone of the CEAS, in the country of relocation. The tool matches registration data of relocation applicants with Member States pledges and preferences, taking into account principles of non-discrimination, fair distribution and the consideration to provide adequate support to vulnerable applicants.
Addressing the issue of the safety and security of experts deployed by EASO to the hotspots, EASO Executive Director asserted to the delegates that “while the prime responsibility lies with the hosting Member State, EASO has spared no effort to guarantee the utmost safety and security of its experts. We have put a substantial number of necessary measures in place and are counting on the Member States to continue sending their experts to support the work of EASO”.
As regards EASO’s Training curriculum and asylum support tools, EASO informed that a training module on Trafficking in Human Beings is being finalised. It aims at providing trainees with the knowledge and skills to identify potential victims, to handle the initial encounter and to prepare and conduct an asylum interview. A module for interpreters engaged in asylum interviews is also under development.
The meeting also saw an overview of the key findings and the adoption of the Annual Report on the situation of asylum in the EU 2016, which will be made public on 5 July. It collects information about revisions in countries’ policies and procedures, contains new statistics on the number of applications for international protection made in the EU+ in comparison with previous years, and many more fascinating facts and figures.
EASO also informed its Management Board about the possibility of expanding its current Social Media Monitoring project, and to start a cooperation with a number of Member States who have approached EASO with the aim to develop and conduct targeted communication campaigns in countries of origin of asylum applicants while making use of EASO’s knowhow and extensive open source intelligence work. EASO’s Executive Director emphasized that “warning potential migrants for ruthless smugglers, informing them about legal and safe pathways and providing them with an accurate and realistic picture of life and asylum in the EU before they decide to leave their country, may help save lives and ultimately help stem the flow of irregular migrants to Europe.”