EASO organised the 9th edition of its Consultative Forum (CF) Plenary Meeting on 12th November in Brussels. It was one of the most attended plenary meetings so far, attracting more than 190 participants. The meeting, entitled "Initial steps in the asylum procedure" focused primarily on the new trends introduced by some EU Member States in the initial steps of the asylum procedure to obtain as much information as possible from applicants at an early stage, aiming to ensure that applications are processed swiftly, comprehensively and in an informed manner. The meeting explored the following key questions, first in expert panel debates and then in participatory workshops:
- What are some of the new measures and tools that are being introduced by Member States to streamline the initial phase of the asylum procedure?
- What impact do such new measures and tools have on applicants for international protection?
- What role do civil society organisations play in guaranteeing effective access to procedural safeguards during the initial steps of the asylum procedure?
- How is EASO involved in the initial steps of the procedure, and how can EASO and civil society organisations improve cooperation during the initial steps of the asylum procedure?
During the workshops, participants discussed and formulated recommendations to help improve asylum procedures. Following an exercise of prioritisation, a number of selected recommendations were presented and further discussed amongst Member State authorities during the National Contact Points meeting of the EASO Asylum Processes Network, which had been organised back-to-back to the Plenary Meeting. The meeting report and prioritised recommendations will soon be available on the EASO CF website.
Other highlights of CF activities implemented in 2019 included:
- A thematic Consultative Forum meeting on gender-related persecution; for an overview of the key recommendations and issues discussed during this meeting, please visit this webpage;
- Three workshops which brought together representatives from think tanks, academia and civil society to discuss the EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum;
- Five consultations on key EASO documents with 120 contributions received.
Many selected civil society organisations also continued to participate directly in EASO’s activities throughout 2019, including amongst others, through: participation in the Vulnerability Expert Network, development/update/upgrade of training modules, participation in operational trainings in Greece and Italy, development/revision of EASO Practical Tools, participation in COI meetings and revision of Country Focus reports, etc.
EASO’s Consultative Forum has a very ambitious plan for 2020 and foresees the implementation of various activities in accordance with the 2020 Work Programme. Please visit this webpage for more information about the work of the Consultative Forum.