EASO has an important role to play in the external dimension of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by strengthening asylum and reception capacity in third countries in order to better protect asylum seekers, in cooperating with third countries in matters connected with EASO’s mandate and activities as well as in facilitating the resettlement of refugees from third countries to the EU.
EASO’s work to implement the external dimension of the CEAS is being implemented in the framework of the EASO External Action Strategy adopted by the Management Board of EASO in November 2013. All this done in close cooperation with the European Commission within the framework of the EU external relations policy, including the European Agenda on Migration and Valletta Summit Action Plan. Other partners and stakeholders in our work EU Delegations, partner third countries, EU Member States, as well as Frontex, UNHCR and IOM.
Support in the external dimension is given both bilaterally and through regional programmes. The geographical focus is at present the Western Balkans region, Turkey and in North Africa. Activities include capacity building, advice, training, provision of seminars/workshops, operationalisation of practical tools, study visits, technical assistance and on-the-job training etc.
North Africa and the Middle East - The ENPI project
For the past 28 months (2014-2016), EASO has implemented a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) project with Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco.
The purpose of the ENPI project was to familiarise Third Country (TCs) officials from Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan with the mandate, tools and instruments of EASO and Frontex, and cooperation models developed with EU Member States (MS). The project also assessed the technical needs of the TCs and put to use EASO and Frontex tools suitable to support capacity building to respond to the needs. This will enhance the possibilities of EASO and Frontex to act as preferred EU operational actors vis-à-vis TCs.
See EASO video on the activities performed in this project.
EASO's support to Jordan has overall been successfully implemented and has included relevant needs assessment visits to Jordan, including identifying more long-term technical assistance to support both a training function within the Syrian Refugees Affaires Department and a migration analysis function in the Ministry of Interior. Under the project, Jordanian officials have also been on a study visit to the Czech Republic and Austria to study the management of migration/asylum flows in the respective countries. As a third example of a European asylum system, another study visit was organized to Spain with particular focus on the reception management. Jordanian officials also attended EASO training sessions in Malta on Exclusion and the Asylum Procedure Directive, where they gained improved understanding of the EU system. Jordanian officials have furthermore attended training in the EASO core modules Inclusion and Interview Techniques (December 2014) and, in May 2015, an EASO training in Malta on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Also, in September 2015, a national training session on the Exclusion Module of the EASO Training Curriculum was delivered in Jordan by a Jordanian trainer and a Dutch trainer together. Finally, a combined study visit to Turkey and Sweden was introduced in the project. The alternative activity was developed with the full participation of the Jordanian authorities since Sweden is currently carrying out a TA project in Turkey in cooperation with DGMM.
Project implementation in Morocco has been very successful and has, to a certain extent, contributed to the proposed Moroccan reform on migration and asylum. Needs assessment visits have been carried out with participation of EU MS experts and two thematic seminars - on accelerated procedures at the airport and appeal procedures - were held in Morocco in 2014 to respond to the authorities’ need to better inform the final modifications to the draft law on asylum, before the final submission to the Secretary of Government (the draft law on asylum had however not been passed at the time of publication of this information). Moroccan officials have shown great interest in cooperating with EASO, through a broad spectrum of stakeholders, and have attended training in the EASO core modules Evidence Assessment, Inclusion and Interview Techniques (November and December 2014) and, in May 2015, EASO training in Malta on the CEAS. One participant from the Moroccan National Human Rights Council also attended training in the EASO core module Interview Techniques in March 2015. In December 2015, Moroccan Officials participated to a combined study visit to Spain and France to study the functioning of two of the asylum systems that influenced the Moroccan draft asylum law which is pending adoption. A thematic seminar for Moroccan Parliamentarians on international refugee law, including the EU Acquis and parliamentary procedures for passing asylum legislation, was organized in April 2015 for Moroccan Parliamentarians.
With respect to Frontex activities under the project, a study visit for a Moroccan delegation was organised in February 2015 to the Frontex headquarters to present Frontex’ work and mandate, as well as to exchange information and experiences with the Moroccan authorities. In March 2015, Moroccan officials also visited the Frontex Partnership Academy in Lyon.
With respect to Tunisia, EASO has found good cooperation in particularly with Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Social Affairs. In August 2014, two Tunisian Judges went on a study visit to the Swedish authorities to get an improved understanding of key principles in the Swedish, and EU, system, which served to inspire the Tunisian draft asylum law. EASO also facilitated Tunisian participation in the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ) 10th world conference in Tunis. Tunisian officials have furthermore been trained in the EASO core modules Inclusion and Interview Techniques (November and December 2014) and, in May 2015, Tunisian officials attended an EASO training in Malta on the CEAS. In September 2015, four Tunisians officials from the Ministry of Justice and of Social Affairs, visited the UK Ministry of Home Affairs’ Visa and Immigration services in Croydon and the Detention Centre in Harmondsworth, focusing on practical aspects such as registration, protection of vulnerable groups and social assistance during the asylum process, including the measures taken by the UK asylum system in the last twenty-five years to improve its quality and efficiency. In February 2016, EASO brought together, in Tunis, officials from the Tunisians Ministries of Social Affairs and Justice, as well as from the Lebanese Syrian Crisis Response Unit and the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for training focused on the legal instruments and the actors of the CEAS and its External Dimension. EASO and Tunisians trainers co-trained the session using Arabic, French and English languages.
The ENPI project’s Final Conference was held in Brussels on 25-26 May 2016 and was the occasion for all the stakeholders to review together implemented activities, achievements, challenges and opportunities which emerged during the two years of project implementation. It aimed at gathering key strategic and policy inputs on the implementation of the project, as well as coordinated and clear discussions on future cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa, taking into consideration other main regional processes such as the Mobility Partnerships and the Regional Development and Protection Programs.
Valletta Summit follow-up
To follow up on the Valletta Summit Action Plan of November 2015, EASO supports third countries by providing training and improving the quality of the asylum process, in countries of origin, transit and destination. EASO is currently in discussions with the European Commission on how this can be done is a coordinated and effective way.
As part of the activities to address the current migration crisis, EASO attended the Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans (WB) Route (25 October 2015). In response to the statement adopted at the Leaders' Meeting EASO put forward some proposals and is coordinating with relevant stakeholders, to ensure relevant follow-up and support from the EU to its partners in the WB. EASO has also provided capacity building support to WB countries by opening up trainings for officials and case workers from national authorities.
The IPA Programme
On 1 January 2016 implementation of the ‘Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey’ (IPA 2014) (the “IPA Programme”) started. This new External Dimension programme is financed by the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance and is a three year regional project (36 months), with Frontex as lead applicant and EASO, UNHCR and IOM as co-applicants. The project specifically aims to establish a harmonized, effective and protection-sensitive migration management in the WB and Turkey in line with EU standards. The element of protection-sensitive migration management runs as a red thread through the programme and stresses that international protection aspects should be taken into consideration throughout the whole migration management process.
The IPA Programme aims to offer a comprehensive and holistic regional approach to mixed flows migration management complementing national efforts by providing a mixture of horizontal and regional support activities. With the successful implementation of the activities, the WB partner countries will be in the position to advance towards achieving inter-operability with EU practices and standards while bridging existing gaps.
EASO activities under the IPA Programme will focus on providing support in the establishment of improved identification of mixed migration flows – and the most vulnerable groups among them – as well as in the delivery of capacity-building activities including on-the-job training. EASO intervention will be tailored to the establishment of protection-sensitive and EU compatible registration and referral mechanisms for asylum seekers and to support the establishment of EU compatible asylum systems in the IPA II countries.
The kick-off conference for the IPA programme was held in Belgrade on 9-10 March 2016 and gathered all the stakeholders of the programme. Kick-off field visits have also been organized in the six WB partner countries in 2016 (April – June), so that the implementing organizations could meet with the local and national authorities. Capacity building activities have started and cooperation between the project partner organisations, as well as with the WB partner countries, is proving very beneficial.
EASO works closely with the SRSS, the EU Delegation and EU MS in Ankara on the 1:1 scheme, the Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme (VHAS) and deployment of EASO staff to support activities thereunder. All activities are part of EASO’s mandate on External Dimension and Resettlement. EASO has been active in developing the Standard Operating Procedure for the VHAS proposed by the European Commission in December 2015.
Furthermore, EASO works closely with DGMM, on capacity building measures, including on Country of Origin Information.
EASO will, in cooperation with UNHCR and other relevant actors, support the implementation of the European resettlement scheme and support other resettlement actions of EU+ countries, in addition to the agreed scheme. EASO aims at strengthening the EU’s role in this area, in cooperation with the European Commission, with a view to meeting the international protection needs of refugees in Third Countries and showing solidarity with their host countries. EASO will endeavour to exercise a coordinating role in exchanging information on resettlement, and will focus parts of its support on newly resettling EU Member States.