We came across a very interesting document that describes the current asylum situation in Greece, particularly looking at the role played by EASO's Asylum Support Team.
The 'Implementation of the Greek National Action Plan on Migration Management and Asylum Reform (“the Greek Action Plan”) and border management issues Progress Report - March 2012' was presented by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström at the Justice and Home Affairs Council Meeting on March 8th 2012. You can find the Press Conference from the Council Meeting here.
Through this post we would like to draw your attention to some specific points that we find particularly interesting. As always with the European Asylum Support Office in mind.
We're especially happy that we found this document in view of EASO's repeated refusal to share with us - and with you - the EASO/Greece Operating Plan.
We’ll start out by giving you a quick summary of the report:
The Progress Report is an overview and assessment of the implementation of the Greek Action Plan. An evaluation mission composed of several stakeholders including the Commission, a Task Force for Greece, UNHCR, IOM, FRONTEX and EASO visited Greece in mid-February 2012.Overall the Commissioner states that some progress has been made, but that there is still a long way to go. According to the report, examples of the progress made include the appointment of the head of the new independent asylum service and the rental of rental of new premises.
Of main concern to the Commissioner is the limited recruitment of staff (only 11 out of planned 700 have been hired in the new Asylum Service), the alarmingly low recognition rate (ranging from 1% to 6% at first instance) and the severe reception conditions. Malmström further reminded the same authorities of the substantial financial support that they received from the European Refugee Fund, granted to improve these particular concerns. See the European Parliament's plenary session of April 19th 2012.
Together with the Commission we also find it alarming that the humanitarian situation in the Evros Region is particularly poor with regard to reception conditions. We also find it alarming that the asylum procedure remains difficult to access to most persons.
Surprisingly (or not?) we wonder why EASO does not have a stronger voice in this particular report, with FRONTEX seemingly being given more attention. Coupled with the denial of access to the EASO/Greece Operating Plan, EASO's absence from this Progress Report further casts shadows over the Agency's activities in Greece...shadows we would like to see removed in a spirit of transparency and also cooperation and support with civil society.The report merely says that EASO ‘continues to support Greece on the ground through the appointment of national experts', and that EASO and FRONTEX should work closer together in border areas to improve the identification of potential beneficiaries of international protection.
But what about EASO’s role in training personnel or securing the implementation of the CEAS standards? Reception conditions? Access to the asylum procedure? The progress report doesn’t say much about this. At least not directly.
Having said all of this, we do appreciate that the Commission conducted this observation mission, seeking to possibly fulfil its role of monitoring implementation of the EU acquis. In our view it’s an interesting report as it pinpoints the most serious concerns and generally provides an overview of the state of play in Greece, almost in real time. We recommend reading the 8 pages of compact information, since all can’t be covered here.