Yesterday the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee (Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) held a day-long hearing in Brussels entitled ‘A Common European Asylum system by 2012? Asylum and Resettlement’. The hearing’s aim was quite specific: to provide technical input on horizontal issues in order to possibly influence the on-going CEAS negotiations between the Parliament, Council and the Commission.
It was a long day with a jam-packed agenda, divided into thematic Panel presentations a some space for questions. As is typical of these kind of events, the main benefit obtained from attending was the intense networking opportunities…coffee and cigarette meetings with friends and colleagues for quick updates on activities, legal developments, case-law and so much more. We were also present to deliver a presentation on ‘Access to an Effective Remedy’, where we focused on concrete challenges faced by asylum-seekers in enforcing their rights in a variety of contexts.
But where was EASO? Apart from several references to the Agency in a number of presentations (including our own), EASO was absent…or if they were present their presence was unnoticed. We were told at the hearing’s beginning that Dr. Visser was unable to attend due to other commitments in the United States (yes, we are definitely interested in more information on this), and this is perfectly understandable as we’re sure he is much in demand at the moment.
Yet it is a real pity that the Agency missed this opportunity to be seen as playing an active and dynamic role in what was effectively a gathering of experts in several fields providing a wealth of specialised information on technical difficultes presented by CEAS. Without needing to make any formal intervention, the mere symbolism of EASO’s presence would have sufficed.