Monday, 17 January 2011
Cecilia Malmström's speech at EASO's 1st Management Board meeting
On 25th November Commissioner EASO’s Management Board held its first meeting in Malta. Despite not being present for this meeting Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström gave an introductory speech highlighting the important plans and aspirations EASO will be required to fulfil in order to be a successful element in the development of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
Commissioner Malmström’s speech was rather dry and lacking the substance and energy expected of EASO itself. Essentially a summary of the Office’s Regulation, Malmström’s speech touched on what can now be defined as the CEAS clichés such as increased MS cooperation, better implementation of the relevant legislation, capacity-building, assisting MS facing particular pressures, etc. Substance was briefly touched upon with reference to the current situation in Greece, repeatedly referred to EASO’s baptism by fire. Aside from the wondering whether EASO will be quick enough in achieving the operational strength required to effectively intervene in the crisis in Greece, I question whether Commissioner Malmström’s failure to even briefly refer to the long list of very real and ugly tasks EASO will have to face reflects a lack of willingness to address these issues or simply or the Commission’s reluctance to raise these issues at such an important gathering of all MS. Issues such as an institutionalised disregard of the core principles of the 1951 Convention, the worrying situation of vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees, the lack of a clear EU policy on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, the gradual externalisation of asylum to dubious territories, a systematic minimisation of standards in CEAS instruments, enormous disparities in recognition figures, and so many more.
These problems will be on EASO’s agenda from the day its new Executive Director takes his place. How they will be prioritised and included in the Office’s operational plans is what we will all be closely watching.
The press release with Commissioner’s speech can be found here (website).