The topic is extremely interesting and raises several questions on the actual future of CEAS since it touches upon issues such as the externalisation of asylum, the role of human rights in EU-3rd country relations, the willingness or even capacity of the Commission to effectively monitor the implementation of the asylum acquis and, essentially, the very core of what international protection within the EU actually means in practice. Yet this is not the place for such a discussion, or maybe it could be topic for specific future post.
At present, I want to highlight those elements in the EASO Regulation catering for EASO’s interactions with 3rd countries, with a view to picturing a possible future scenario of the Office having a direct or indirect relationship with the Libyan authorities. The EASO/3rd country contact envisaged in the Regulation can essentially be classified under three substantive headings:
- External dimension - on a very general note, EASO is to coordinate activities relating to CEAS’ external dimension. The kind of activities EASO is to be involved in primarily relate to information exchange and, interestingly, EASO is to perform these activities in agreement with the Commission;
- Resettlement - EASO’s role is that of coordinating the exchange of information “and other actions” on the resettlement activities undertaken by the MS. By “other actions” I would understand issues such as facilitating communication, organisation of seminars/workshops, production of reports and studies, etc.; and
- Capacity Building - Envisaged in Article 49, the wording of which is far from clear in terms of objectives and modalities. EASO will be the EU’s contact point for the provision of technical capacity to the relevant authorities of 3rd countries. Primarily, EASO will coordinate such technical cooperation between MS and 3rd countries. It is also authorised to directly cooperate with 3rd countries in accordance with appropriate working agreements agreed upon with the 3rd country. All these activities are also to be carried out in agreement with the Commission and, furthermore, “within the limits of its mandate” (EASO’s). The specific thematic areas identified for such capacity-building exercises are asylum, reception and durable solutions.
It would be a terrible waste to see EASO become an agency that simply coordinates MS’ activities, without any authority to actively intervene and be operational. We really don’t need another Frontex!