Thursday, 5 April 2012

Clear priorities in a Commission Communication

We would like to draw your attention to a semi-recent (December last year) Communication from the European Commission that deals with the solidarity measures that Member States have at their disposal.  

It covers a range of elements, but what we are obviously most interested in are the issues concerning the European Asylum Support Office and the support measures it offers.  However, other parts of the communication are also interesting reading material, if you have spare time on your hands…

In the Communication the Commission gives a basic overview of the task that EASO is expected to fulfil, including the Annual Report, implementation and expansion of the European Asylum Curriculum and the Asylum Support Teams that EASO could deploy and coordinate.  But the Commission goes further touching base on the potential cross-agency cooperation between EASO and Frontex.  The Communication also deals with the EUREMA (EU Reallocation for Malta) pilot project.

Cross-agency cooperation
Regarding cross-agency cooperation, the Commission recommends that EASO and Frontex should develop a common strategy both proactively and in response to emergency situations.  It also states that the Fundamental Rights Agency could be involved.  

We would like to underline that the inclusion of FRA is essential in order to secure the respect for human rights also in emergency situations.  The recent amendments to the Frontex Regulation do contain a stronger human rights component, yet we strongly support an active role for the FRA.

An interesting feature is that the Commission encourages civil society and Member States to gain more mutual trust.

We did write about the EUREMA project in an earlier post in March.  Essentially the Communication reiterates that the project is of great importance and supports further development of the scheme as a voluntary and permanent programme. 

Refugees leaving Malta for Norway, in EUREMA.  From left:
Malta Minister for Home & Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici,
EASO Executive Director, Dr. Robert K. Visser. (  
The Commission sees EASO as a valuable coordinator of such a permanent programme with EASO also involved in the evaluation of the first two phases of the project (announced at the the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council March 8 2012).

In this regard, our above-mentioned March 11 post reiterated our general support for the idea of solidarity, but also reiterated a number of key concerns we would like to see addressed in the EUREMA evaluation and in similar future initiatives.  Summarily, the points we made included:

  • intra-EU relocation should not prejudice the EU's resettlement of refugees from outside of the EU;

  • intra-EU relocation should result in clear protection benefits for refugees remaining in the sending EU MS;

  • how does intra-EU relocation affect the integration potential of the refugees remaining in the sending EU MS, and also that of the host community?

  • how can we ensure that intra-EU relocation does not solely serve the interests of the sending EU MS, but of all involved parties...including of course the refugee communities themselves;

  • how can EU MS explore alternative methods for facilitating the family reunification of refugees?

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