European Asylum Support Office elects executive director

In its first management board meeting, the European Asylum Support Office selected Dutchman Rob Visser as its executive director.

Visser has considerable experience in migration and European affairs and is currently the Director General for Immigration, Legal and European Affairs at the Dutch Ministry for Justice. Visser also acted as a special advisor to the Dutch Prime Minister on migration and European Affairs.

Visser will not be invited to appear before the competent Committee of the European Parliament.

Announcing the appointment, Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said it was her “pleasure to congratulate Mr Visser for his selection as the agency's first Executive Director. The 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.”

She added: "The success of the Support Office will make a substantial contribution to a system which is able to provide protection to those in need, in line with the European humanitarian tradition. I see the EASO as an indispensable tool for implementing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), based on solidarity and fairness. The European Council set 2012 as the target for establishing this system and I call on all Member States and the European Parliament to seek a reasonable compromise on the Asylum package, in order to achieve our objective within the given deadline".

The EASO will support Member States in their efforts to implement a more consistent and fair asylum policy, for example by helping to identify good practices, organising training at European level and improving access to accurate information on countries of origin.

It will also provide technical and operational support to Member States facing "particular pressures" (i.e. Member States receiving large numbers of asylum claims), via the deployment of asylum expert teams, thus contributing to alleviate some of the pressure on their systems.

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

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