Prime Minister inaugurates European Asylum Support Office

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi inaugurates permanent European Asylum Support Office premises - 'privilege for Malta to play host to such an agency.'

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi inaugurating the new EASO premises.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi inaugurating the new EASO premises.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this morning inaugurated the permanent European Asylum Support Offices (EASO) within Transport Malta's premises in Marsa.

EASO has been set up in the form of a regulatory agency but independent European body. The European Commission and EU Member States will be represented on its management board (its governing body) and will work closely with the authorities responsible for asylum, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Fundamental Rights Agency, FRONTEX, and consult with civil society. EASO's Executive Director, Rob Visser, will be in charge of the day-to-day management of the agency.

Gonzi highlighted the fact that Malta had set a new benchmark with the hosting of the EASO offices in Malta and added that it was indeed a privilege and honour as a Prime Minister to inaugurate these offices.

"I am truly honoured to have a European agency located on our island and that in the end we had presented the best bid to host the agency.

"Malta had made a remarkable achievement in such a short span of being an EU member," Gonzi told a packed house, which comprised of members of EASO staff, its executive director Rob Visser, former permanent EU representative Richard Cachia Caruana, former Home Affairs minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici, Martin Bugelli, head of the European Commission delegation to Malta, and Prof. Edward Scicluna (MEP), a representative of the European Parliament.

Gonzi also said that if it weren't for the support of Cachia Caruana and Mifsud Bonnici, this achievement would have never been possible.

"Both Cachia Caruana and Mifsud Bonnici played a vital role in our bid to host the agency's offices in Malta. This all came through due to their sterling work," the prime minister said.

The former ambassador and minister resigned their posts when two Opposition motions of no confidence were passed with the vote of two Nationalist MPs.

Gonzi recalled that a year ago, Malta had provided temporary offices to the agency's staff comprising of two people only. "One year down the line, and the agency's new offices are hosting 50 members of staff."

"The EU has made a giant leap forward in creating a common European asyslum system. In its commitment to hosting EASO in Malta, I feel that the Maltese government has delivered in this regard. We will offer the agency our constant support to help it reach its objectives," Gonzi added.

Meanwhile, in a video message, Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, said that "EASO will play a crucial role as a centre of expertise on Member States' asylum systems. It will be able to contribute to better implementation of the asylum legislation by the Commission and Member States and sharing of best practices."

"One year ago in Valletta, I formally inaugurated the agency and now EASO has its home," Malmstrom said.

"Many people are running away from violence in their country of origin and some are turning to member states to seek shelter. In a world filled with xenophobia, it's no easy task to fulfil our obligations, especially in such an economic climate. We will strive to continue with our work to implement a fair and generous asylum system despite the many obstacles and challenges that lie ahead."

"When we finally reach our aim, we will send a political signal to all 27 Member States," she said.

Visser, the agency's executive director, thanked the Maltese government, especially the Prime Minister, for providing the agency's offices, while also extending his gratitude to former Home Affairs minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici and former perm rep. Richard Cachia Caruana who "played a highly significant role in helping accomplish our objective."

 

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We have lost of offices for this and that, but the Prime Minister didn't open an office for those discriminated by the Nationalist Administration during the last 25 years. What do the EU say about this or EU's interest is that we host all illegal imigrants and asylum seekers and isn't interested in what is supposed to be the EU's nationals?