European Asylum Support Office to be inaugurated on Sunday

European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Valletta.

The new office began some of its activities in November 2010, and as of this Sunday it is now fully operational.

The EASO was established with the aim of enhancing practical cooperation on asylum matters, and helping Member States fulfil their European and international obligations to give protection to people in need.

"I am very happy to open the European Asylum Support Office. By dealing with practical and operational issues regarding asylum and migration, the Support Office offers valuable support to Member States by facilitating practical cooperation in all aspects of the assessment of asylum claims and in the reception of asylum seekers,” Malmström said.

The Commissioner said the EASO It will provide support to Member States confronted with unexpected inflows of asylum seekers and to those which simply need to make their asylum system more fair and efficient. It is an indispensable instrument to help achieve a more comprehensive and protective Common European Asylum System.

“Practices for receiving asylum seekers still vary considerably from one EU country to the other and much more needs to be done to achieve a greater convergence of approaches. The Support office will have an important role in that", said Cecilia Malmström.

The inaugural event will take place on Sunday 19 June at the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta, in the presence of Commissioner Malmström, the Prime Minister of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi, and the Maltese Minister of Justice and Home Affairs,Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. Representatives of the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies of the Council, MEPs, EU Ambassadors, and the deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will also participate in the celebrations.

The EASO Management Board will meet on 20 and 21 June 2011 at which time the Executive Director, Rob Visser, will present the state of play of implementation of the Agency's work programme for 2011 and will also propose an outline for the 2012 work programme.

Work has already started and the recruitment of the staff to the Support Office is approaching its final phase. The Agency has already formed a pool of approximately 350 experts from all EU Member States who are available in emergency situations. These teams provide interpreting services, information on countries of origin and know-how on managing asylum cases.

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I fear that this initiative will be as useful for locals and immigrants alike as Frontex Ferry boat and Voluntary Burden sharing. The problems must be solved at the source and not in a nearly bankrupted continent with little natural resources.