Recent developments in EASO’s resettlement activities
In recent months, the EASO Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Network hosted several meetings, including a virtual field visit in Turkey, a meeting on security, integrity and fraud risk in the resettlement process and a meeting focusing on Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO).
Two Working group (WG) meetings on Community Sponsorship were also held in March and June. The first meeting of the WG focused on the objectives and deliverables for the WG for the period 2021-2023, as well as key elements of what an EU approach to Community Sponsorship could entail. The second WG meeting discussed the planned sequence of activities, for the period ending in 2023. The relation between the State and the sponsors was noted as a topic of interest. This element as well as a clear division of tasks are crucial for the good functioning of sponsorship schemes.
example of the interview set-up at the Resettlement Support Facility in Istanbul during Covid times, 2021
Participation in the meetings included EU Member States and associate states (EU+), representatives from the European Commission (DG HOME), UNHCR and IOM.
EASO continues to support the delivery of remote selection and PDO missions at the Resettlement Support Facility (RSF) in Istanbul as well as face to face missions, recently by Germany and Switzerland.
The RSF pilot project in Istanbul came to an end in April 2021. Following positive feedback from EU+ countries in the two years of the project implementation and the recommendations as a result of the external evaluation of the pilot project, EASO signed a new four years’ contract for the continuation of the project to ensure sustainability of support provided to EU+ countries resettlement operations.
An opportunity to partner with Turkey on refugee protection
In 2013, Turkey overhauled its system for the protection of asylum-seekers with the adoption of the Law on the Protection of Foreigners. As part of legislative reform, a competent authority on refugee protection was established in 2014, the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), with 81 Provincial Directorates of Migration Management situated under the Turkish Ministry of Interior. EASO enjoys a long-standing relationship with the DGMM, having supported the agency from it’s inception.
Turkey’s geographic position and role as host to the world's largest refugee population presents unique opportunities for EU+ country actions on asylum and reception to deliver where it matters most. Building stronger institutions in the external dimension also serves to reinforce the role of public agencies as duty-bearers of international legal obligations.
To that end, EASO and the DGMM recently committed to plan for a next joint Roadmap for Cooperation, tentatively scheduled to commence in January 2022. EASO is now in the process of identifying and proposing content for the 2022-2025 programming cycle. Consultations are ongoing with the European Commission, EU+ countries, the EU Delegation in Ankara, UNHCR, ICMPD and other relevant stakeholders in Turkey. In addition to extending the time frame for implementation for a select number of deliverables under the current roadmap, EASO is exploring opportunities to strengthen the capacity of the DGMM through possible interventions on asylum, reception, quality assurance, digitalisation, and the fight against trafficking in human beings, among others.
In order to deliver in a comprehensive and meaningful manner, EASO endeavours to identify and eliminate barriers to EU+ countries’ participation in its planning for support and cooperation with Third Countries, and lower the threshold for EU+ countries’ participation: the more inclusive we can be, the more impact Team Europe can deliver.
EASO is available to assist EU+ countries to engage with Turkey, be it through participation in a larger, more comprehensive deliverable under the next Roadmap, or a smaller ad hoc intervention in the form of a presentation, sharing of a standard operating procedure, hosting a study visit or similar.
For the remainder of 2021, EASO is soliciting the input of EU+ countries to identify national good practices that may be relevant for application in Turkey. We encourage colleagues from EU+ countries to liaise with their National Contact Points (NCPs) to get in touch and discuss opportunities for future programming/planning. To help facilitate the process, we have created an online Third Country Cooperation Network platform to pool resources and provide daily updates of relevant developments in Turkey and other priority Third Countries. The platform is open to NCPs who in turn may delegate access (through EASO) within their organizations. Given the complexity and number of specializations required to identify and adapt good practices for application in Third Countries, we encourage a broad participation of experts with backgrounds in protection and international affairs.
We hope this brief presentation of our work has piqued your interest and that you will consider joining us in supporting positive protection outcomes in Turkey!
Guiding principles for EASO Third Country Support
Protection-sensitive approach: EASO Partner/Third Country Support is protection-sensitive and aims to strengthen the capacity of the partner agency/country to promote and protect the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees. Programming (planning) is first and foremost rights-based.
Coherence with European legislation and policies: Third Country Support is undertaken under the broader framework of EU external relations policies and priorities.
Sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency of support: In order to be sustainable, predictable, and effective, Third Country Support is framed in technical and non-political terms.
Partnership, cooperation and mutual interest: Third Country Support capitalizes on the accumulated know-how of national competent authorities. Competent authorities on migration management have unique experiences and perspectives acquired in the execution of national mandates. EASO endeavors to coordinate closely with international organizations, host governments, and EU+ countries to identify who best does what where.
EASO’s cooperation with Albania
In June EASO carried out a two-week field mission in Albania to advance capacity development work in the framework of the EASO Roadmap for cooperation with Albania. A series of meetings and field visits were held with the national competent authorities and other actors, including civil society, involved in the asylum process in Albania to further the development of the accelerated procedure by-law and to exchange views on the application of the EASO Identification of Persons with Special Needs (IPSN) tool in first contact (border) contexts. In this regard, Mr Sokol Sheti, Director of the Asylum, Foreigners and Citizenship Directorate noted: ‘We welcome EASO’s increasing role in supporting Albania align the institutional and legislative framework with the EU standards and in connecting us with EU national competent authorities to exchange views on how these standards are applied in practice’
Further training needs on registration were also discussed and coordination efforts advanced with the EU Delegation in Tirana and implementing partners, such as UNHCR, IOM, and Frontex. ‘The EASO-Albania agreed Roadmap is a key platform to facilitate technical support.’ said Aurelien Juliard, Justice and Home Affair Policy Officer at the EU Delegation in Tirana. ‘It will in particular help with the implementation of the recently adopted law on asylum’.
In this context and to enhance cooperation in the field of reception, EASO also visited the National Reception Centre of Tirana and the temporary reception centre in Kapshtica, together with Frontex and the Border Migration Police.
Being a priority region for the EU services, EASO is gearing up cooperation with the Western Balkan administrations and envisages more field missions and face-to-face capacity development activities, while considering the necessary COVID-19 related restrictions.
EASO’s New Office in Belgrade
Ms Charlotte Goyon, EASO’s project officer in Belgrade
EASO’s engagement in the Western Balkans covers cooperation with all the asylum and reception competent authorities of the region, including with Serbia. This month our colleagues Charlotte Goyon and Selena D'Herin from EASO's External Dimension Unit worked from the new EASO office in the EU Delegation in Belgrade, Serbia. They participated to a series of technical meetings with relevant national and international counterparts to advance EASO's cooperation with Serbia under the Roadmap.
EASO looks forward to becoming the new European Union Agency for Asylum, with an enhanced presence, including through the possible deployment of EASO Liaison Officers directly in Partner/Third Countries.