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Brussels, 19 June 2011

Frequently Asked Questions: The European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

The Regulation founding the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) provides for a fully operational EASO by 19 June 2011. On that day, an inaugural ceremony will be held in Valletta (Malta), ahead of the Management Board meeting organised on 20-21 June.

The European Commission has been providing vital support to the EASO since the beginning of its establishment through human resources, expertise, recruitment and logistical support and will continue doing so as to ensure that it can rapidly reach cruising speed.

How is the EASO structured?

The EASO is a regulatory agency, an independent European body which will work closely with the national authorities responsible for asylum, the European Commission, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The planning and monitoring authority of the Office is its Management Board. It consists of one member from each EU country, of two members from the Commission and of a non-voting member from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The management board members hold office for a renewable three-year term.

On 1 February 2011, the Management Board appointed Rob Visser as Executive Director of the EASO for five years (renewable once, for not more than three years). Dr Visser is in charge of the day-to-day management of the agency and acts as the legal representative of the office.

The EASO may set up working parties composed of experts in the field of asylum.

A consultative forum is to be established for cooperation between the EASO and relevant civil society organisations and other competent bodies working on asylum policy at local, regional, national, European or international level.

The budget foreseen for the period 2010 – 2013 is around €40 million.

The EASO staff will consist of temporary agents, contractual agents and seconded national experts. Recruitment of the first staff is ongoing.

What does the EASO do?

The Support office contributes to the creation of a Common European Asylum System (for a state of play on the CEAS, see MEMO/11/365).

Its main tasks are:

  • to foster practical cooperation among Member States on asylum, by facilitating the exchange of information on countries of origin, by providing Member States with support for translation and interpretation and the training of asylum officials and assisting in the relocation of recognised refugees.

  • to support Member States under "particular pressure"1, notably through the establishment of an early warning system and by coordinating teams of experts to assist EU countries in managing asylum applications and in putting in place appropriate reception facilities.

  • to 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.

How are asylum support teams helpful in Greece?

Upon request for assistance by Member States under particular pressure, the EASO may coordinate the deployment of one or more asylum support teams to their territories for an appropriate period of time. The deployment of asylum support teams is co-financed by the EASO budget and by the Member State requesting assistance.

On 1 April, the EASO Executive Director and the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection co-signed an Operating Plan for the first ever deployment of EU asylum support teams. The two-year Plan foresees the deployment of twenty-three teams (approximately 40-50 experts from EU Member States) to support Greece in setting-up a modern asylum and reception system. The experts will provide assistance on subjects such as training, screening, backlog management, general management of asylum and reception facilities, expertise on vulnerable groups and IT-expertise. The first team was deployed on 12 May 2011.

1 :

'Particular pressure' refers to a situation whereby an EU Member State finds exceptionally heavy and urgent demands placed on their reception facilities and asylum systems. Such pressure could, for example, be characterised by the sudden arrival of a large number of third-country nationals who may be in need of international protection.

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