The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) replaces the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), January 20, 2022 | Source: European Union Agency for Asylum
The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) replaces the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), January 20, 2022 | Source: European Union Agency for Asylum

A new independent body, the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), will safeguard those applying for protection in Europe against rights violations. It also aims to make asylum standards more consistent across the Member States.

Taking over from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the new European Union Agency for Asylum started work on Wednesday (January 19) with what it called "a reinforced mandate" to support Member States in implementing consistent asylum practices across the bloc.

Reception conditions and asylum procedures continue to vary widely in the EU, with differing recognition rates leading to so-called secondary migration. European countries have been struggling for years to agree on uniform practices, but progress towards harmonization and a Common European Asylum System has been slow.

The EUAA's predecessor EASO, which had been operating since 2011, was also limited by its mandate. The new agency's Executive Director, Nina Gregori, said it now had the ability to assist the EU in "tangibly improving the application of the world's only multinational asylum system."

"This is a crucial moment for asylum and reception in the EU," she added.

'Welcome'

The Assistant High Commissioner at the UN Refugee Agency UNCHR, Gillian Triggs, welcomed the establishment of the new agency with a tweet.


The new body, with a budget of 172 million euros, is adding to its existing staff of 500 permanent employees a "reserve pool" of 500 officials from Member States.

New rights protections

For the first time, the agency will have a new Fundamental Rights Officer, who will "ensure that the rights of asylum applicants are always safeguarded," an EUAA statement said. It also gives an enhanced role to non-governmental organizations through a more independent "Consultative Forum." 

In addition, a complaints mechanism has been set up to ensure recourse for anyone who considers that their fundamental rights have been breached.

The main work of the agency is in assisting Member States in the registration of protection seekers and examination of asylum applications, as well as refugee resettlement. The EUAA headquarters will remain in Malta, with other offices in Athens, Brussels, Rome, Nicosia, Madrid and Warsaw.

 

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