Every month Eurasylum publishes a short interview with a key person in migration and asylum affairs. Last May the interviewee was Dr. Robert Visser, the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office.
In the interview Visser outlined the Agency's main activities and aims, including the different tasks currently being implemented. In this respect it is a straightforward insight into the work of EASO...for most of us, however, it might be a bit too basic...more than this is needed to really catch our interest.
And we did find some interesting points in the interview, namely the possibility of the EU to start the joint processing of asylum claims, with Visser saying:
"the debate in this area is delicate and a number of important legal and administrative issues - including financial and practical considerations - deserve careful consideration. It goes without saying that joint processing of asylum claims would be an important solidarity tool, in particular for those Member States facing particular pressures.
It could also be a way through which Member States could transfer best practices to each other, and EASO could have an important role in coordinating this. Joint processing requires enhanced mutual trust among Member States and also a high level of responsibility. Judging from the level of cooperation in the field of asylum that I witness every day in my job, I am hopeful that joint processing of asylum cases, under the right conditions, can become a reality."
Quite an optimistic approach, on what is in fact a terribly complex discussion that could have a dramatic effect on asylum in the EU. It is interesting to see that Visser envisages a possible role for EASO in this regard.
We had the opportunity of looking into the issue of joint processing of asylum claims quite recently in the context of a related study for the European Commission. We were given the opportunity to discuss the various logistical options for such a mechanism, as well have a look at the legal, policy and even financial implications of each model.
From our perspective, and without wanting to get into the merits of this discussion, we can briefly say that whichever model adopted or whatever level of discussion is engaged in, it is of paramount importance to keep the focus of all efforts on improving the quality of asylum with a view to strengthening the protection for those in need of international protection.
The central role of the asylum-seeker, as opposed to the possible centrality of EU MS' interests, needs to be strongly reiterated at all stages.
The evaluation of whether this is better done by individual EU MS, EASO, jointly, or through any other model, should revolve around this focal point, as also reiterated as the original basis for CEAS. Of course, the discussion on what we actually understand by "improving the quality of asylum" is a discussion that should be inclusive and participatory, and not limited to fora such as, for example, EASO's Management Board.
The full interview can be found here.
Last, we would like to thank Elisa Mason who runs the very informative blog http://fm-cab.blogspot.com/ for drawing our attention to the interview.