Friday, 18 March 2011

EASO in the margins...Dutch standpoint on EU migration policy

The Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations just published a document entitled Position paper - the Dutch standpoint on EU migration policy”. A brief document (7 pages), the position paper essentially set out the Dutch government’s proposals in relation to the EU’s asylum and migration policy, together with the proposals’ backgrounds and anticipated impacts.

Coincidentally, whilst recently preparing my lecture on institutional actors relevant to the migration/asylum debate, I added a question to raise with my students: Whilst we know what the southern EU MS are expecting of EASO, what are the other EU MS expecting? What role do they see EASO playing?

The Dutch position paper provides a good indication, or least useful input. Interestingly, EASO is only mentioned twice (page 3) and both instances are within the same substantive context. The Dutch perspective positions EASO within its views on the Dublin II Regulation, saying that whilst the Regulation should allow for exceptions to its core rules, “(A)t the same time, the Netherlands will continue to argue that EU member states should provide operational support for other EU countries facing exceptionally high migration pressure through the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).” The document continues to explain that the anticipated impact of this position on Dublin would imply that “(S)upport through the EASO for a member state experiencing high migration pressure will keep pressure at a manageable level.”

So it looks like, at least for the Dutch authorities (it is good to remember that Mr. Visser, the first EASO Executive Director is in fact Dutch), EASO’s primary role is that of assisting those EU MS facing particular pressures which, in terms of the establishing Regulation, is only one of EASO’s intended core functions.

What about CEAS harmonisation? What about COI? What about the Agency’s annual report on the state of asylum in the EU? What about the Consultative Forum?

If this is also how the other non-southern EU MS perceive EASO, then I’m afraid it is really never going to get anywhere. If the southern and the non-southern EU MS cannot even agree to place EASO at the centre of their asylum activities, it runs the risk of being reduced to a resettlement agency.

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