Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Malmström says EASO could deploy asylum teams to Italy...but when?

There are plenty of news items reiterating that Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has roped in Frontex and EASO to help deal with the current crisis hitting the Italian island of Lampedusa. Yesterday I asked what EASO is expected to do, in view of its current operational limitations.

The answer was given today in Strasbourg during Malmström’s address to a plenary session of the European Parliament. In outlining the nature and extent of support the EU could offer Italy, the Commissioner included EASO in the list of these measures. Essentially, Italy could request EASO to deploy asylum support teams to assist the local authorities in dealing with the asylum requests presented by the large number of Tunisians reaching Italian territory. This form of assistance would be on the same lines as that currently present in Greece, in the form of RABITs.

Yet it will be months until EASO will be in a position to provide Italy with any concrete support. The Executive Director is missing core staff and not much has been finalised in terms of the manner with which EASO will select and deploy these asylum support teams.

During the Office’s first and second Management Board meetings, it was emphasised that the Office’s urgent first task would be Greece. Now, just a few months away and with EASO not having been able to do anything in Greece, the emphasis has already shifted to Italy.

It really is time to get cracking, isn’t it?

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