Sunday, 23 January 2011

ECtHR judgement increases the pressure for EASO's work in Greece

The recent European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber judgement (M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece) is being hailed as more than a mere condemnation of Belgian and Greek policies and practices.

“The myth that European Union member states are safe places to return asylum seekers has been exploded by the European Court of Human Rights”, is how Mevlüt Çavusoglu, President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) described the judgement (full statement available here). In its Weekly Bulletin of 21st January, ECRE Secretary General commented that “(t)he assumption that all EU Member States respect fundamental rights and that it is therefore safe to automatically transfer asylum-seekers between EU countries no longer stands.”

The European Commission’s reaction, whilst not as dramatic, also clearly indicated the view that the judgement was yet another urgent alarm for the EU and MS to pay much more attention to the state of CEAS. Commissioner Malmström’s statement on Friday focused on need finalise the System, with a view to providing the support needed by a number of MS to meet their international protection obligations. Greece was obviously at the centre of the Commissioner’s statement, with a reiteration of the current support measures provided by the EU to the Greek authorities.

Amongst these measures intended to assist Greece, Malmström referred to the EASO since:

  • one of the aim’s of its establishment and therefore one of its main activities is the provision of assistance to MS faced with particularly difficult situations as, for example, “significant inflows of asylum seekers”; and
  • EASO will be in a position to further support the Greek authorities in their implementation of the Action Plan for the improvement of their national asylum system.
Malmström further confirmed the prioritisation of the situation in Greece made during the first meeting of EASO’s Management Board, by reiterating that this will be further discussed in the Board’s second meeting in Malta on 3-4 February.

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