Brussels (Brussels Morning) After years of failure to deal with migration and asylum procedures, the EU agreed on Tuesday to a revamp of the system with the creation of a new agency dedicated to support migrants and asylum seekers in the EU.
The new agency — the European Union Agency of Asylum (EUAA) — is the outcome of a transformation of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which, according to the European Commission, is intended to make a “tangible difference to asylum procedures” by improving protection for migrants and facilitating bridges between EU countries.
“Today’s agreement will be an important step in moving the entire package of interlinked asylum legislation forward and a sign that, despite some member states’ best efforts, agreement on asylum and migration policy is possible”, MEP Birgit Sippel (S&D) declared.
According to the Commission, the new agency, initially proposed in 2016, will help ensure that member state asylum procedures will be of “higher quality, more uniform and faster”.
Essentially, the EUAA will be responsible for improving the functioning of the common European asylum system, by providing operational and technical assistance to member states and by helping ease procedures when it comes to assessing applications for international protection.
Support for non-EU countries
The EU will invest in capacity building by providing non-EU countries with improved asylum and reception systems. Recipient countries will also benefit from increased support to help them access EU resettlement schemes.
With a reinforced mission, the EUAA will be in charge of maintaining a listing of 500 experts, including interpreters, expected to support national asylum systems overburdened with high case-loads, thereby making the overall EU migration management system more efficient and sustainable.
“The EU asylum agency will provide tangible, practical support in the processing of asylum seekers to those member states in need. It will also harness the strength of our common approach to improve operational cooperation with third countries”, Eduardo Cabrita, Portugal’s Home Affairs Minister, said, speaking on behalf of the Portuguese Presidency.
The EU’s migration policy has long been a cause of division between EU countries, resulting in a series of reports of human rights’ violations and migrants pushbacks. The European Parliament expects the new agency to enhance the protection of vulnerable people reaching the EU.
“In the wake of increasing allegations of human-rights violations, for the S&D Group it is crucial that the European Asylum Agency has the tools to help protect the fundamental rights and dignity of people seeking protection in the EU”, MEP Elena Yoncheva (S&D) stated. Today’s agreement is the second of the New Migration Pact legislative proposals and follows the agreement on the Blue Card Directive announced in May.