The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will be expanding their operations to all major EU Member States that receive the most asylum applications, according to an announcement published by EASO.
According to the announcement, these countries are all five of the EU’s Mediterranean countries. These five countries account for 50% of the EU’s budget for asylum.
The Mediterranean Member States featured are Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, and Spain.
Recently EASO announced operations beginning in Spain.
According to the announcement, EASO will be drastically increasing their presence in the Mediterranean Member States, sending 2,000 additional personnel to assist with asylum and immigration. These personnel will include caseworkers, interpreters, vulnerability experts, field support staff, reception staff, research officers, and administrative staff.
“In 2021, EASO will deploy approximately 2 000 personnel to the five Member States, including almost 1 000 in Greece. While deployed personnel in Greece will remain stable compared to 2020, notable increases will be registered in Cyprus (84 in 2020; 185 in 2021 [+120 %]) and Malta (65 in 2020; 149 in 2021 [+129 %]). Personnel include caseworkers, interpreters, vulnerability experts, field support staff, reception staff, research officers and administrative staff,” the announcement reads.
EASO has also announced its budget for 2021 regarding operations in these Member States, asserting that they will be allocating more than half of their overall budget to operations in the Mediterranean Member States, with Greece receiving the vast majority of funds.
“Over the next 12 months, the Agency will commit over EUR 70 million to its operations, which equates to approximately half of EASO’s overall budget. Over EUR 45 million (64 %) of this will be committed to operational activities in Greece,” the announcement reads.
EASO continuing and expanding its operations in the Mediterranean Member States will largely mean that the organization will continue to do what they were already doing their, except on a larger and more efficient scale.
In Spain, EASO will focus mainly on assisting Spanish authorities with reception of applicants.
In Italy, EASO will focus on asylum processes quality, standardization, and appeals procedures.
In Cyprus, Greece, and Malta, EASO support will be comprehensive. It will include interviewing applicants, drafting opinions, vulnerability support, and support to the Dublin Units. It will also assist Member States in reinforcing their asylum capacities.
In Greece, EASO will shift its focus from the islands to the mainland.
In addition to all of this, EASO will also continue to facilitate the relocation of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable children to Member States. EASO will also support the establishment of a new reception and identification center in Lesvos.