European Union’s new Agency for Asylum started its work yesterday, on January 19, 2022. The new agency will be operating under a reinforced mandate building on the achievements of its predecessor, the European Asylum Support Office.

According to a press release issued by the EU Commission on the agency’s first day of work, the latter will help make sure that asylum decisions are taken within shorter periods and fairly across the EU while bringing more uniformity in decision-making between the Member States.

“A reserve of 500 experts including case handlers, interpreters or reception specialists will be ready to be deployed rapidly as part of asylum support teams at the request of Member States. Agency experts will have the mandate to prepare the entire administrative asylum procedure for decision by national authorities and offer assistance in the appeal stage,” the Commission notes in its press release, explaining how the agency’s reinforced mandate will work.

The Commission also notes that the new agency will provide high-quality and uniform decision-making by creating standards, guidelines and practices for the application of the Union law on asylum.

The agency also intends to better monitor and report on the asylum and reception systems of the Member States in order to make sure that the same are fully in line with EU law. It will also ensure the safeguard of asylum applicants’ rights through an independent Fundamental Rights Officer and a new complaints mechanism.

The predecessor of the new EU Agency for Asylum, the European Asylum Support Office, has trained over 40 thousand people within the last ten years. It has also registered 40 per cent of all asylum applications in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Malta, and carried out 80 per cent of best interest assessments for children in Greece.

In order to enable the new agency to continue the good work, the bloc has allocated €172 million to it. The agency will thus be able to launch operations in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Spain by supporting the asylum and reception authorities in these countries with almost 2,000 staff members.

“Its new reserve of 500 experts will also provide more effective support to national asylum systems facing a high caseload, making the overall EU migration management system more efficient and sustainable,” the Commission also points out.

The EU Council’s presidency and Parliament’s representatives reached an agreement on the new asylum agency back on June 30, 2021. At the time, the decision was welcomed by all Member States, in particular those as Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain, which are most often targeted as ports of entry into the EU by migrants.

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