Brussels, 26 November 2010
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) holds its first management board meeting in Valletta (Malta) and selects its first Executive Director
Today the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) held its first management board meeting in Valletta (Malta) and selected Mr Rob Visser as its Executive Director. He will now be invited to appear before the competent Committee of the European Parliament. With the operational launch of this new agency, the EU makes further progress towards a more comprehensive Common European Asylum System. The EASO will enhance solidarity among Member States, through practical cooperation on asylum matters, and help them fulfilling their European and international obligations in this field.
"While I welcome the first management board meeting of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), it is my pleasure to congratulate Mr Visser for his selection as the agency's first Executive Director. The EASO will play a crucial role as a centre of expertise on Member States' asylum systems. It will be able to contribute to better implementation of the asylum legislation by the Commission and Member States and sharing of best practices," said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. She added: "The success of the Support Office will make a substantial contribution to a system which is able to provide protection to those in need, in line with the European humanitarian tradition. I see the EASO as an indispensable tool for implementing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), based on solidarity and fairness. The European Council set 2012 as the target for establishing this system and I call on all Member States and the European Parliament to seek a reasonable compromise on the Asylum package, in order to achieve our objective within the given deadline".
The EASO will support Member States in their efforts to implement a more consistent and fair asylum policy, for example by helping to identify good practices, organising training at European level and improving access to accurate information on countries of origin. It will also provide technical and operational support to Member States facing "particular pressures" (i.e. Member States receiving large numbers of asylum claims), via the deployment of asylum expert teams, thus contributing to alleviate some of the pressure on their systems.
The EASO has been set up in the form of a regulatory agency, an independent European body. The Commission and EU Member States will be represented on its management board (its governing body). It will work closely with the national authorities responsible for asylum, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Fundamental Rights Agency, FRONTEX, and consult with civil society. The Executive Director of the EASO will be in charge of the day-to-day management of the agency.
The EASO will focus on three main tasks:
develop practical cooperation among Member States on asylum, by facilitating exchange of information on countries of origin, by providing Member States with support for translation and interpretation, training of asylum officials and assisting in the relocation of recognised refugees.
support Member States under "particular pressure", in particular through the establishment of an early warning system, coordinating teams of experts to assist EU countries in managing asylum applications and in putting in place appropriate reception facilities.
contribute to the implementation of the CEAS by collecting and exchanging information on best practices, drawing up an annual report on the asylum situation in the EU and adopting technical documents, such as guidelines and operating manuals, on the implementation of the Union's asylum instruments.
The Commission proposed the setting up of the EASO on 18 February 2009 (IP/09/275).This included a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Asylum Support Office, as well as changes to the European Refugee Fund (ERF).
During the first semester of 2010, the co-legislators formally approved the creation of a European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Member States decided that its seat would be Valletta, Malta.
Regulation (EU) 439/2010 was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 29 May 2010.
For more information
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs: