The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

EASO Training additional asylum officers

Malta Independent Friday, 10 February 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), based in Malta, has started training additional asylum officers, recruited by Luxembourg, following a significant influx in the number of asylum seekers in the country.

Last year, Luxembourg faced particular asylum pressures, as the number of asylum seekers almost tripled compared to 2010, bringing the country close to its capacity limits.

Speaking to The Malta Independent the executive director of EASO, Robert K. Visser, said: “In case Malta is faced with a significant influx of illegal entrants, it also could ask EASO for support.”

Under EU policies, different forms of assistance are possible.

On 10 January, 2012, EASO received a request for support from the Labour, Employment and Immigration Minister of Luxembourg, Nicolas Schmit. Reacting immediately, Dr Visser pledged asylum support teams to the country.

After hiring new staff to deal with the increase in asylum cases, Luxembourg requested EASO to urgently train the personnel in the reinforced Refugee Unit.

The aim of this support team is to train the new staff on the EU asylum acquis so asylum cases can be handled effectively, backlogs reduced and the principles of the Common European Asylum System will be guaranteed.

EASO has recently sent the asylum support teams to Luxembourg to provide emergency training to newly hired staff. They will be offering emergency European Asylum Curriculum (EAC) training according to the EU asylum acquis. The training will specifically concentrate on drafting and decision making and interview techniques.

EASO measures in Luxembourg are identified as short-term emergency actions.

Meanwhile though, EASO has another ongoing and more complex project with Greece, which is being assisted in dealing with a backlog of asylum cases and in setting up a functional system for processing asylum claims. As a result, the office is planning to have experts from 10 to 15 member states in Greece throughout this year.

The crux of this operational role is the collection, sharing and analysis of asylum-relevant data provided by the member states. This, believes Dr Visser, as quoted in European Voice yesterday, could contribute to better policy making.

“The aim is that the data that EASO presents should be uncontested,” he contends. “It should not be a discussion about numbers. Then, of course, we have the policy discussion: Given the data, given the trends that we see in the data, what are we going to do next?” That will be the critical question in any early-warning system.

“There will certainly be in an early-warning system at a certain moment the political question – are we politically willing to do something and so on – but the contribution of EASO is to provide the necessary data and information for the Council (of Ministers), for the (European) Commission, for individual member states to take action,” he says.

The European Asylum Support Office in Malta, opened a year ago, will play a crucial role in any future early-warning system for asylum crises. 

However, some members of the European Parliament are somewhat unsure of what the role of EASO will be as it establishes itself further.

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