Written by Anita Orav.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is a European Union agency that provides tools to help the EU Member States prepare for an influx of asylum applicants and implement EU legislation on the ground. The Malta-based agency was established in 2010 as an impartial centre of expertise, with the objective of developing practical cooperation between the Member States, offering support in the event of particular asylum-related pressures and providing evidence for EU policy-making.
In 2016, EASO played a major role in implementing the immediate actions outlined in the European agenda on migration, which focused on strengthening the EU’s emergency response to the migration crisis. The European Commission has also called for a strengthened role for EASO in other related areas. To enable the agency to fulfil its new tasks, build up staff, and deliver operational and technical support to Member States, EASO’s budget has seen a nearly tenfold increase over the past seven years, from €14.6 million in 2014 to close to €140 million in 2021.
However, concerns have been voiced regarding the way EASO’s mandate has expanded in practice, without the necessary legal basis, and regarding the lack of transparency or appropriate monitoring mechanisms vis à vis its activities. In 2016, as a response to the shortcomings revealed in the EU’s migration management, the Commission presented a proposal to amend and expand EASO’s mandate, also changing its name to the European Union agency for asylum to reflect its stronger powers. As part of the asylum reform package, the proposal was put on hold, but was then relaunched as part of the new pact on asylum and migration in September 2020. On 29 June 2021, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the agency. To enter into force, the agreement now needs to be endorsed formally by the co-legislators. The text agreed was debated in plenary session on 7 October 2021, and the Parliament is expected to vote on it during November 2021.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Introducing the European Union agency for asylum‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Listen to policy podcast ‘Introducing the European Union agency for asylum’ on YouTube.