Woman walking in the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos island, Greece on November 29, 2019 | Photo: Imago
Woman walking in the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos island, Greece on November 29, 2019 | Photo: Imago

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will deploy up to 2,000 personnel to Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta in 2020 to support national authorities with asylum and reception. While support to Greece will double compared to 2019, support to Italy will be decreased as the country faces less workload within first instance asylum procedures.

In 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will double its personnel to be deployed to EU member states Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Italy.

Up to 550 personnel will be sent to Greece to help the country with asylum procedures and reception infrastructure, EASO announced in a statement released Tuesday. In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed to various locations across the country. In all, EASO will double its deployments to Greece due to recent spikes in migrant arrivals. "Being the main recipient country of third-country nationals attempting to reach Europe through the Eastern Mediterranean route, Greece, has been called to manage an extremely volatile migratory situation over the last years," EASO writes in its Greece Operating Plan.    

EASO aims to work in close cooperation with the Greek Asylum Service to continue its support for reception in the overcrowded migrant hotspots on the Aegean Islands. As of 2020, it will also be present in centers on the mainland. According to EASO, its presence on the mainland will increase by four times the level of 2019, and EASO officers are now being deployed to eight new locations in Thessaloniki and Ioannina. 

More support to Cyprus, Malta, less to Italy

In Cyprus, the number of deployed caseworkers will double in size to at least 60 EASO personnel, EASO said. The agency will be present in 10 locations in the country supporting both registration and the further processing of asylum applications. In particular, EASO will support the establishment of the first reception center in Pournara just outside Nicosia, which was opened in November 2018. Overall, EASO will continue its reception support and extend its work to help out authorities that deal with second instance asylum matters.

EASO will also double its support to Malta, increasing its support within the asylum procedure and, for the first time, offering support in reception, though it will not be involved in the direct management of the reception centers. "In addition, EASO will continue to be ready to support the Maltese authorities with ad hoc disembarkations and voluntary relocations," the statement says.

With regard to Italy, EASO’s deployments will be reduced. 150 officers will be sent there, a drop on last year's numbers. EASO says the country "faces less workload within its first instance procedures and reception infrastructure." Therefore, the agency will shift its focus to supporting second instance cases (appeals to first instance decisions). The agency says there is a significant backlog in second instance decisions: "According to the Italian Ministry of Justice, as of June 2019 second instance pending cases amounted to 73,5044 , making it difficult for the Specialised Sections of Civil Courts to meet the 4-month timeframe envisaged by the law for the definition of judicial proceedings."

What does the EASO do? 

EASO supports the European Union in implementing a common European Asylum System. According to their mission statement, the aim is to "ensure that individual asylum cases are dealt with in a coherent way by all Member States." The EASO provides different kinds of support, including emergency support (as in helping member states that face particular pressures with temporary support and assistance to repair or rebuild asylum and reception systems), information and analysis support, or common training and information services (such as providing analyses on countries of origin). 

For more information, see here.


More articles