The EASO Annual Report on the situation of asylum in Europe 2012 marks a significant improvement on the EASO Annual Report 2011, in that the current report provides a more complete overview of the situation of asylum in the EU, as the main trends, as defined by EASO, are highlighted and useful references are made to key national and European jurisprudence, State practice and legislative amendments. ECRE nevertheless stresses that the report should be more analytical rather than descriptive with regard to these elements and pressures on national asylum systems. This analysis would allow a more useful and comprehensive overview and facilitate the identification of potential protection gaps.

Furthermore, ECRE regretted the section relating to the integrity of the international protection system is predominantly presented from the perspective of combating abuses in the asylum field. What constitutes “abuse” is open to interpretation and the report does not seem to indicate how abuse should be understood, let alone defined. In this respect, ECRE recalls that safe country concepts are likely to undermine rather than safeguard the integrity of the international protection system.

ECRE also finds that the fact that in the EASO report six countries in the Western Balkans region are grouped together when discussing the main countries of origin of asylum seekers is misleading . There are varying recognition rates for asylum seekers from each country and in order to ensure an accurate analysis of the situation of asylum in the EU, it is vital to consider the situation with regard to asylum applications from the countries concerned individually.

Regarding the sources used for the report, ECRE welcomes the fact that more civil society sources were used, but stresses that the majority of information is provided by States or by the UNHCR. In order to provide an accurate overview of the asylum situation in the EU, it is necessary that more information gathered by NGOs working closely with asylum seekers and refugees is used.

ECRE’s comments were made as part of a consultation launched by EASO on its Annual report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union in 2012.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 13 September 2013.

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