The European Parliament and the European Council yesterday agreed on the process of upgrading the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to the European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA), with increased autonomy and a mandate to monitor the asylum agencies of individual member-states.
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who holds the portfolio of commissioner for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, said the agreement on the EUAA is a “first important foundation” in the effort to build an effective European-wide asylum system.
The EUAA will make a significant difference in asylum procedures, enhancing individual protection, closing loopholes and achieving greater convergence of individual members’ asylum systems.
A consensus inside the European countries emerged about three weeks ago, when the so-called first reception countries – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain – had proposed postponing the founding of the EUA until members agreed on the resettlement of asylum seekers from first reception countries to other states.
The great majority of asylum seekers want to settle in the richer central and northern EU countries, whose restrictive policies have meant that many are stuck in first reception countries, with few, if any, prospects of reaching their intended destination.
The EASO’s current budget is €142 million and it employs some 500 agents, with support teams in the five first reception countries.