Today and tomorrow representatives from the Member States, the Commission and UNHCR will be gathering in Malta once again for the first Management Board meeting of 2012.
The Office today is very different to what it was during the last MB meeting: more staff members have been employed, the Greek operations are well under-way, the 2012 Work Programme is now finalised and the first Consultative Forum has been held in December. Inevitably, discussions today and tomorrow will more concrete.
From our perspective, we'd like to see MB discussions focusing on some key points that require attention and clarification, particularly:
- the way ahead for the Consultative Forum. Nobody had any high expectations for the December inaugural meeting. It was the first meeting of a new Agency. But a number of issues were raised during the meeting which we all hope to be somehow brought before the MB's attentional, substantive issues that focused on the Work Programme and also procedural issues questioning the format, direction and very scope of the Consultative Forum. We hope that Dr. Visser will present a thorough report of the Forum's discussion with a view to presenting the several recommendations we made and to resolving so many outstanding issues. Of course, we would also love to receive a formal report of the inaugural meeting, but we'll leave this for a future post on our impressions following the first Forum meeting;
- Access to documentation and information, as an element we've been repeatedly raising here and in our talks with EASO and other stakeholders. EAS now has 2 Operating Plans, one with Greece and one with Luxembourg. Our request for the Greek Plan was rejected, and just a few days ago we submitted a request - directly to EASO - to receive this Plan, the Luxembourg Plan and also the Seat Agreement signed with Malta. We are aware that access to documentation was discussed during the last MB meeting, but we don't quite know what conclusion was reached. Whilst we're happy to see EASO issuing press releases on its operational activities (posted earlier), there is a further need to ensure increased transparency over its activities. As reiterated throughout the Consultative Forum, civil society is willing and ready to support the Office but to do this we need to know what it is doing, how it is doing it and where our activities can fit in;
- the Annual Report on the state of asylum in the EU is, in our perspective, one of EASO's most important duties. It has enormous potential, and no effort must be spared into ensuring that the annual document is given the attention, resources and information required for it to be a report truly reflecting the protection challenges faced by refugees throughout the region. We have a suspicion that what we want of the Annual Report does not necessarily match the MB's wishes. This is understandable, and it is really up to civil society to see that our perspectives and refugee realities are somehow included within the framework and structure decided upon by the MB. We're preparing an EASO-advocacy post for the coming days where we hope to give more attention to this, and other entry-points;
We're eager to see what this MB meeting will discuss, and what conclusions will be reached. In the meantime, as a little reminder of who sits in the Management Board, refer back to this earlier post on the names of the MB members.