With enhanced operational and technical powers, the new EU Asylum Agency will facilitate cooperation among member states and contribute to converging asylum standards.
The provisional agreement reached on Tuesday between EP negotiators and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council puts an end to several years of stalemate in the Council over the creation of the proposed Agency, which will turn the EU Asylum Support Office (EASO), into a fully-fledged agency. While the new compromise mostly confirms the political agreement reached in 2017, it also includes specific provisions on the entry into force of the monitoring mechanism, which will mainly apply from 31 December 2023.
The text strengthens the current EASO, operational since 2011, turning it into an independent agency that will develop operational standards, indicators, guidelines and best practices on asylum-related matters, and will provide operational assistance to member states including in crisis situations as well as on relocation and resettlement. In order to improve the functioning of the common asylum system, it will support practical cooperation and information exchange on asylum among member states. The agency will get additional financial and human resources, including enough of its own staff to form part of the asylum support teams and the teams of experts working on monitoring. Cooperation with third countries has also been strengthened.
The Fundamental Rights Officer
At the request of MEPs, the Agency will have a Fundamental Rights Officer responsible for ensuring it complies with fundamental rights in the course of its activities. More generally, they will promote the respect of fundamental rights in asylum policy. The Fundamental Rights Officer will also be in charge of the new complaints mechanism.
A pool of 500 experts
The new Agency will set up a pool of 500 national experts that can be deployed at the request of the member states in asylum support teams, and provide technical and operational assistance on the ground.
Monitoring the situation in member states
From 31 December 2023, the Agency will monitor whether various aspects of the common asylum system are being applied on the ground in member states, such as reception conditions, respect for fundamental rights and child protection safeguards, and respect for procedural safeguards. The fully-fledged monitoring system as well as the provisions on member states’ capacity and preparedness in situations of disproportionate pressure will enter into force together with the repeal of the current Dublin Regulation.
Elena YONCHEVA (S&D, BG), Parliament’s rapporteur for the proposal, said: “Today is a historic day for the European Union’s asylum policy. Not only will we have a real fully-fledged Asylum Agency in the EU, but we have also shown that it is possible to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The new Agency is the first building block towards a new CEAS based on meaningful solidarity, effective asylum procedures and stronger protection of fundamental rights.”
The agreed text will have to be approved by the Parliament -first by the Civil Liberties Committee and then by the full House- and by the Council, to enter into force.