Monday, 2 December 2013

Several updates: Bulgaria, Second Quarterly Report, EP and IOM visit to EASO, EASO's budget, Report on the Western Balkan countries



We have several updates from the past few weeks to bring to your attention.


EASO and Bulgaria sign Operating Plan

Following the high increase in the influx of asylum seekers in Bulgaria, on 14 October this EU member state made an official request to receive support from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). Three days later, EASO and Bulgaria signed an Operating Plan.

According to the press release (PR 09/2013 of 17 October), EASO support is due to be provided in prioritized areas, including: “identification and pre-registration of mixed migration flows; registration of asylum seekers and referral of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable persons to the appropriate asylum procedure; supporting the asylum decision process; providing Country of Origin Information; delivering core training in EASO Curriculum Modules for newly hired staff and; offering expertise on the absorption of emergency financial support to Bulgaria under EU funds (SOLID programme)”.

We welcome the short time-frame in which this agreement was completed, but we regret, as we did in the past for other support plans (see two of our earlier posts here and here), that the full text of the Plan is not available online...

EASO published Second Quarterly Asylum Report

The ‘EASO Quarterly Asylum Report – Quarter 2, 2013’ was published in October. The Report provides for an overview of asylum trends in the EU and Associated countries.

We had mentioned earlier that such a report can become a key instrument to improve solidarity within and outside the European Union. Read our opinion on the First Quarterly Asylum Report (click here to read it).
Bar chart in p. 9 of the Report


EP visit to EASO

Remember we’d told you about this visit (click here for the post)?

Well, EASO has reported on it in the October newsletter and in the press release 10/2013 (of 29 October 2013).

The MEPs Jan Mulder (NL), Josef Weidenholzer (AT) and Roberta Metsola (MT) met with the Agency Director, Dr. Robert K. Visser, received updates on some of EASO’s activities and tools and discussed the strengthening of future cooperation between the EP and EASO.
From EASO October Newsletter

IOM Director General visit to Malta

Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration, visited EASO’s headquarters (read the press release) while on a visit to Malta, where he also had scheduled meetings with Foreign Minister George Vella, Home Affairs Minister Emmanuel Mallia and Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli (see Times of Malta news article of 4 November).

EASO’s budget reinforced

Following the recent deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean, the European Council and the European Parliament discussed migration and asylum policies in Brussels (24/25 October). The corresponding ‘Conclusions’ (EUCO 169/13) can be found here.

The day before the meeting the Parliament had adopted a resolution recommending an increase in the budget for EASO and Frontex, having also recommended that a mechanism envisaging the reduction of the pressure faced by some Member States would be created (you can read here the complete European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2013 on migratory flows in the Mediterranean, with particular attention to the tragic events off Lampedusa - 2013/2827(RSP)).

More recently, the EU has adopted the budget for 2014 and EASO is confirmed to receive 130,000 extra Euros for the creation of two additional posts (see ECRE Weekly Bulletin 22 November).

EASO Report on Asylum Applications from the Western Balkans

Asylum Applicants from the Western Balkans: Comparative Analysis of Trends, Push-Pull Factors and Responses’ is a 90-page report on the flow of asylum seekers from ‘Western Balkan countries’ to EU Member States and Associated Countries.

We haven’t had the time to read the whole report, but on this topic we would just like to underline the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights’ words (ECRE Weekly Bulletin 22 November):

The fact that persons of specific ethnic groups are suspected of being more likely to leave their country than others and exercise their right to seek asylum can only reinforce concerns that persons of that ethnic group are indeed in need of international protection as their human rights are not fully protected in their own country”.

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Weekly Bulletin 22 November dedicates a section to this report. Read it here.


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