Monday, 14 February 2011

Malmström's comments on Italy/Tunisia boost EASO's reputation

In a post on her blog yesterday, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said she would rely on reports from Frontex and EASO regarding the current dramatic situation in Lampedusa.

Her blog is in Swedish, so here’s a very rough translation:

“It is great news from Egypt. At last, Mubarak resigned! Eager rumours spread that he has left the country and emptied bank accounts. Hard to know exactly but he is certainly gone out of Egyptian politics and hopefully the Egyptian people are now preparing for elections and to build a democratic country together. The EU has said that we can help in the pre-election phase, and the Foreign Service is also working on a long-term democracy assistance plan for the country.

More worrying is the situation in Tunisia and over the weekend I have had intensive contacts with the Italian government. Over the past few days 4000 young men from Tunisia arrived at Lampedusa in small boats. I have asked if they need help but the interior minister last night told me that he did not need it, so far, but that it may be needed later in the week. Even my staff has asked officials in Rome and received the same response. Now I see on the news that the Home Secretary is annoyed at the EU for not receiving aid. During the day there have been large demonstrations against Berlusconi in Italy, so maybe it was nice to blame something on Brussels...

Tomorrow morning I have meetings with my staff and will ask them to look at what tools we have to help both Tunisia and Italy, both the short and long term humanitarian assistance, among others. I'll get reports from both Frontex and the new Refugee Agency EASO.”

Essentially the Commissioner is saying that an EASO situation report is more reliable than one by the Italian government. This approach is a welcome one, since it contributes to EASO’s status as an expert Office in the field, one that should be capable of producing independent and high-quality reports to assist the Commission in its formulation of policy and adoption of necessary measures.

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