It's been months since we posted an update to the EASO Monitor Blog...a very clear sign that this post, sadly, is going to be the last.
On the one hand, it's about us. We've grown immensely since our establishment as a Maltese human rights NGO, with several projects and on-going activities that inevitably must take priority over this blog (have you checked out our new site?).
On the other hand, it's about EASO. In the beginning, our blog was the primary information provider on its activities whilst at the same time we tried offering a critical approach to our monitoring activities. EASO is now a massive (relatively speaking of course) organisation with its own information portal and generating too much work for us to keep track of.
Having said this we're convinced monitoring activities remain necessary, and now more than ever. EASO still suffers from some very serious short-comings, and we're afraid that nobody is proactively asking the questions that need to be asked, and demanding accountability and transparency.
- EASO's largely operates behind closed doors. Whilst the (much improved) Newsletter gives us a glimpse of the work being done down in the Marsa offices, we still know close to nothing of the information it gathers, the way it gathers it and what conclusions (if any) are reached on its basis. We know that EASO is continuously asking Member States to provide statistics, data, facts, legal information, etc. What happens with this data? Is data accuracy matched against other, possibly non-official sources? How is this data being used by EASO, by the Commission, by Member States? Your guess is as good as ours.
- Access to the Operating Plans, the documents explaining EASO's substantial work in Member States like Greece, remains elusive despite these being based on public funds and having a direct impact on the fundamental human rights of persons. This is unacceptable, and should be followed up.
- Does EASO have a Fundamental Rights Policy, that states the Agency's principles and ensures it operates (internally ad externally) within a fundamental rights framework? If our memory is correct, the answer is no.
- In 2014 the Consultative Forum moved its Plenary meeting from Malta to Brussels, possibly in an attempt to attract higher participation levels. But what is the real engagement level between EASO and civil society, beyond the yearly plenary meeting?
Do we need to spell out the recurring theme under these 4 queries? No, but we can reiterate what we think is a possible solution: EASO needs to move away from Member States and start acting like a truly European agency, where supporting Member States is not interpreted as meaning an exclusive consideration of Member State sensitivities.
We've always stressed our position that EASO is an agency we want and should be working with. Stopping this blog is definitely not a sign of lack of interest, but more a decision to prioritise our very limited time and resources in order to focus on those activities closer to our own mission.
We've tried passing on the EASO Monitor to other entities, including academic institutions...but without success. If you're interested, do get in touch with us as we'd be delighted to pass it on!
A big big thanks to all our readers and followers...it's been great working with you at this end!
Director, aditus foundation