On 27th and 28th November, EASO is organising it's 3rd Consultative Forum (CF) Plenary meeting. This is the annual event where civil society organisations are invited to Malta to discuss various aspects of EASO's work, together with EASO officials, government representatives, officials from the EU institutions and - of course - other members of civil society.
Since we're based in Malta, and are CF registered members, we will definitely be attending this meeting. We've often stressed (e.g. here and here) the importance we attach to EASO's activities, particularly towards the Agency's interaction with civil society.
This is not to say that we think it's a perfect organisation, or that we have no concerns with certain aspects of its operations, but more to reiterate our belief that EASO's potential to play an important role in strengthening the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees almost requires us to engage with it at some level or other.
If this engagement could result in an improvement in asylum procedures, reception conditions, or any other area covered by the EU asylum acquis, then we are happy to do it. We are even happier when our engagement highlights the inadequacy of the EU asylum acquis (and practice) vis-á-vis the 1951 Convention and other international human rights instruments!
We're also very aware of a strong sense of disappointment of many colleagues, questioning whether engaging with EASO is actually worth the effort. This is clearly a decision to be taken by each organisation, yet those organisations that would like to be present for this year's CF but cannot due to financial or other constraints may get in touch with us for us to raise any issues, concerns, recommendations on their behalf.
We're not sure if registration is still open, but you can always check by writing to the CF here.
If you're wondering what we'l be discussing, go ahead and download the programme here (.pdf).