Thursday, 8 November 2012

EASO & refugee resettlement

We're pleased to bring you a guest post from Frank Mc Namara, Research Assistant on the Know Reset project.  The post gives an overview of the project, and focuses on the role of EASO in the resettlement of refugees in the EU.

Many thanks to Frank for this post, and well done for the excellent work on the project!

Know Reset represents “Building Knowledge for a Concerted and Sustainable Approach of Refugee Resettlement in the EU and its Member states”. The project is funded by the European Commission DG Home Affairs and aims at promoting good practice in the field of resettlement in EU Members States. The project is led by the European University Institute in Florence and ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles, Brussels) is a partner.

Know Reset aims to map and analyse the current policy framework and practices in the area of resettlement in the 27 EU Member States. Building on past and current projects across Europe that collect and present resettlement practices, Know Reset goes one step further into the analysis and tries to identify gaps and challenges and explore the potential to enhance resettlement - in other words how can Europe do more and better resettlement?

The on-going research is presented through the project’s website. This online research resource provides policy-makers, key stakeholders and the public at large with a unique and indispensable study tool and a broad, European-wide, overview of resettlement.

Consideration of resettlement in Europe overlaps with the, still developing, workload of the EASO. Among the aims of the EASO is to “develop practical cooperation among EU States on asylum, by facilitating exchange of information on countries of origin, by providing EU States with support for translation and interpretation, training of asylum officials and assisting in the relocation of beneficiaries of international protection.”  Relocation’ is therefore well established as being part of the work of the EASO.

In addition to this, a Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 2 September 2009 on the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme [COM(2009) 447 final – Not published in the Official Journal] provides for a key role for the EASO in the resettlement of refugees in the EU.

Malta, the home of the EASO, has been the venue of an EU relocation pilot project named EUREMA. This relocation is an intra-European initiative which takes internationally protected individuals from one Member State and finds another Member State willing to accept these individuals. An emerging role of the EASO is in evaluating the relocation pilot project as can be seen from the EASO’s September newsletter. Click here for a previous post on EASO Monitor with regard to EUREMA and here for a recent post on the EASO Monitor with regard to Intra-EU relocation of protection beneficiaries.

It has been made clear by the Commission in its Communication to the  European Parliament and the Council on the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme (page 3) that, unlike resettlement which is considered a humanitarian enterprise concerned with solidarity with third countries, relocation is a ‘burden sharing’ exercise, at the heart of which is solidarity between EU Member States north and south. This is an important distinction. Know Reset has gathered extensive data on both of these EASO competences (relocation and resettlement) in order to obtain a more holistic and well-rounded project. In doing so, it has become clear that there may be a danger of using relocation as a substitute for resettlement. This is a misperception that the EASO must be mindful of in its role in refugee relocation and resettlement in Europe. The friction between relocation and resettlement indeed points to the greater challenges in achieving solidarity within the Common European Asylum System. This has been an interesting preliminary result of Know Reset’s ongoing research.

It is envisaged that the EASO’s role in both relocation and resettlement will be a major challenge to the new agency in fulfilling the hope of human rights advocates that relocation is used as a complement to resettlement and not as a substitute.  The EASO is set to play an important role in the quickly evolving position of resettlement in European refugee law and policy. It is a role of increasing importance and one which the Know Reset team is set to keep up to date and precise information on.

The Know Reset project will result in a comprehensive information set covering all EU Member States. Moreover, to get a full picture of resettlement practices, our experts are carrying out field surveys in three countries of first asylum: Kenya, Tunisia and Pakistan. Know Reset will explore the potential for developing resettlement capacity, extending good practices and enhancing cooperation in the EU.

Each of the States included in the Know Reset project has given food for thought for any practitioner, policy maker or academic who is interested in resettlement in Europe. Already the project has identified differing attitudes among Member States toward relocation – some advocate for it, certain States are opposed to it and still others seem not to differentiate completely between relocation and resettlement.

The interface between relocation and resettlement is indicative of the interesting and varied research results that have been produced thus far. As the Know Reset team’s research continues and expands, we invite practitioners, policy-makers, non-governmental stakeholders and the general public who are interested in resettlement, to visit the project’s website which is available here.

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