The latest ECRE Policy Note Agent of protection? Shaping the EU Asylum Agency comments on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 showing potential shortcomings and offering policy recommendations’.

The Regulation proposes to strengthen the role of EASO, which will become the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), and will play a more central role in shaping the Common European Asylum System. Against the backdrop of the unprecedented increase in asylum applications in the EU, operational weaknesses and limitations in the Agency’s mandate which constrain its response to operational challenges have become evident.

The Commission proposal would boost the Agency’s role in technical and operational support; information collection and analysis, including on countries of origin; and coordination of practical cooperation to enhance convergence of asylum practices across Europe. Some of these proposals raise fundamental questions in relation to the Agency’s accountability, impartiality and independence.

While ECRE acknowledges the potential of the proposed Agency, it raises human rights concerns linked to the current proposal and urges that the reform of the Agency cannot take place in isolation from the rest of the asylum package. ECRE  recommends  strengthening the monitoring and assessment mechanism, the establishment of an Independent Expert Panel on country of origin information (COI) that takes into account the most recent UNHCR eligibility guidelines and ensuring that personal data is kept confidential. Finally, given the serious conflict of interests that may raise, third party officials must be excluded from processing applications on the territory of Member States.