The European Union will be forming an agency whose sole responsibility will be to manage and support asylum in the EU, as per an agreement reached by the European Council and Parliament and supported by the Commission.
The new agency, which has been detailed in announcements from the Council, Parliament, and Commission, will be an expansion of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). This expansion will include making EASO into its own agency in the EU.
“The text strengthens the current EASO, operational since 2011, turning it into an independent agency that will develop operational standards, indicators, guidelines and best practices on asylum-related matters, and will provide operational assistance to member states including in crisis situations as well as on relocation and resettlement,” the Parliament’s announcement reads.
As the new agency will have more responsibilities, it will also have greater resources and will undergo some major changes in the coming weeks and months. Some of the additions that EASO will undergo are as follows:
Employment of a Fundamental Rights Officer
The agency will have a Fundamental Rights Officer who will be responsible for ensuring that it will comply with fundamental rights in its operations. In addition, this officer will also promote respect of fundamental rights in asylum policy and be in charge of the new complaints mechanism.
Deployment of 500 Experts on EU Asylum
This new agency will gather a pool of 500 national experts that can be deployed at the request of Member States in asylum support teams. They will also provide technical and operational assistance on the ground.
Monitoring Member States’ Situations
The agency will monitor whether the various aspects of the common asylum system are being applied by Member States. These could include reception conditions, respect for fundamental rights, protection of children, and respect for procedure. Monitoring will being on 31 December 2023 after the Dublin Regulation has been repealed.
The agreement reached by European governing bodies has been long awaited. Originally, an agreement was reached between the Council and Parliament in 2017. This new agreement reinforces it and will allow for the EU to actually form the new agency.
“Today is a historic day for the European Union’s asylum policy. Not only will we have a real fully-fledged Asylum Agency in the EU, but we have also shown that it is possible to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The new Agency is the first building block towards a new CEAS based on meaningful solidarity, effective asylum procedures and stronger protection of fundamental rights,” said European Parliament Rapporteur Elena Yoncheva.
The agreement will now need to be passed in Parliament: first by the Civil Liberties Committee, and then by the entire body. Then, it will need to be passed by the Council to enter into force.