Friday, 27 November 2015

EASO Practical Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan

     Source: Khaama Press

On the 2nd and 3rd of December the European Asylum Support Office will be hosting its Practical Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan in Valletta, Malta. Our team members Ejona and Ingebjørg will be participating, and will produce reports on each day of the Conference.

If you have any specific queries or issues you would like to have us raise during the event, just get in touch with us.

Provisional Agenda:

2 December 2015

Security situation in Afghanistan
• Presentation by the Lenny Linke (Afghanistan Analysts Network)
• Panel discussion and Q&A: Alexander Mundt (UNHCR); Hervé Nicolle (Samuel Hall); Ali M. Latifi (LA Times, Al Jazeera)

The situation of Afghans in Pakistan
• Presentation by Indrika Ratwatte (UNHCR Representative in Pakistan)
• Q&A

Socio-economic situation in Afghan urban centres
• Presentation by Hervé Nicolle (Samuel Hall)
• Panel discussion and Q&A: Ali M. Latifi (LA Times, Al Jazeera); AAN; Alexander Mundt (UNHCR)

The situation of Afghans in Iran
• Presentation by Zuzanna Olszewska
• Q&A

3 December 2015

The situation of IDPs and returnees in Afghanistan
• Presentation by Alexander Mundt (UNHCR Assistant Representative in Afghanistan)
• Panel discussion: Hervé Nicolle, Ali M. Latifi, AAN
• Q&A

Situation of Afghans in Turkey
• Presentation by Esra Kaytaz
• Remarks by Ali M Latifi
• Q&A

Regional Afghan refugee issues, return and reintegration
• Overview by Ali M Latifi on Afghan refugees from the Cold War until now
• Presentation by Nassim Majidi (Samuel Hall – via teleconference)
• Panel discussion and Q&A: AAN, UNHCR, Hervé Nicolle

Situation of Afghans in southern Europe
• Presentation by Alessandro Monsutti (via teleconference)
• Remarks by Ali M Latifi
• Q&A

Monday, 16 November 2015

EASO 5 Year Conference

On 23 September EASO organised a conference in Malta under the theme: 5 years of EASO and the CEAS; results and perspectives. In its event description, EASO depicted its development in the last 5 years as an ‘evolve[ment] into an independent and impartial centre of expertise’, its role being that of ‘providing comprehensive and timely support to requesting Member States’.

The information presented and discussed at this conference was later published in a separate report. This report provides a straightforward overview of EASO’s functions as well as its cooperative efforts with other agencies. In terms of ‘results and perspectives’, as the title of the conference promised, the report in entirely descriptive and as such, offers no critical insight into the outcomes of EASO’s efforts. As such, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of analysis and ‘perspectives’.

5 years of EASO: where are we now?

As stated above, the report offers a terrific overview of EASO’s functions as it has evolved over its 5 years of existence. However, it is rather uncritical of its own effectiveness.

During its time, EASO has provided operational support to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden. The extent of the report is understandably not sufficiently capacious so as to allow for detailed accounts of each of these operations. Nevertheless, when an EU agency offers a report of its 5 years of functioning, the mere insistence of the provision of ‘guidance’, ‘tailor-made’ efforts, and the ‘strengthening [of] reception capacity’ is a lacklustre proffer. This reiterates a recurring point on the EASO Monitor, that EASO largely operates behind closed doors, and its Operating Plans remain elusive. As has been stated by us previously, this is unacceptable.

The 5 Year Conference and its consequent report staged an opportune setting to rectify this to some degree. Nevertheless, the accountability and transparency of the Agency remain severe issues.

Monday, 9 November 2015

EASO Monitor Returns

Dear readers,

We are delighted to announce that a new team has joined the aditus foundation to take over EASO Monitor. We are Law graduates, currently pursuing Master’s degrees in European Law at Leiden University, with a particular interest in the legal, practical and human aspects of migration. You can read more about us here.

We will keep in line with the spirit of this blog, as one that offers a critical insight into EASO’s work, yet we also have a few new ideas that we hope will work towards making EASO, its activities, and our comments more accessible to all of our readers.

Our main aim is to keep you informed about EASO’s activities. The Agency’s website and newsletter are quite good at offering pure information, however, we will also be offering our thoughts on what is working and what is not. In short: what are the ins and outs of EASO and what are the ups and downs.

We encourage discussion and debate in the Comments section so please do comment and feel free to contradict us and tell us what your views are.

Before we start sharing our posts, it might be useful to remember what EASO is and what it is not, as we feel that lack of access to certain significant information might have led to an obfuscation of the Agency’s actual role. The European Asylum Support Office is a regulatory agency of the European Union, based in Malta and established in 2010. According to the establishing Regulation, EASO’s mandate is to help Member States as they operate, within the framework of the Common European Asylum System. EASO supports Member States’ activities by gathering information and data, publishing technical reports, and providing specialised training and expertise. Furthermore, EASO assists those Member States facing particular asylum pressures. EASO’s more recent role includes the coordination of the establishment and implementation of the so-called ‘hotspots’ in Italy and Greece.

We provide a more in-depth description of EASO here but we also recommend their website where you can access EASO’s previous reports and news for yourself.

We are also active on Facebook and Twitter so please do join us over there as well!

Until next time,
Ejona, Ingebjørg & Geraldine

Monday, 9 February 2015

Time to close the EASO Monitor

It's been months since we posted an update to the EASO Monitor Blog...a very clear sign that this post, sadly, is going to be the last.

On the one hand, it's about us. We've grown immensely since our establishment as a Maltese human rights NGO, with several projects and on-going activities that inevitably must take priority over this blog (have you checked out our new site?).

On the other hand, it's about EASO. In the beginning, our blog was the primary information provider on its activities whilst at the same time we tried offering a critical approach to our monitoring activities. EASO is now a massive (relatively speaking of course) organisation with its own information portal and generating too much work for us to keep track of. 

Having said this we're convinced monitoring activities remain necessary, and now more than ever. EASO still suffers from some very serious short-comings, and we're afraid that nobody is proactively asking the questions that need to be asked, and demanding accountability and transparency.

For example:

  1. EASO's largely operates behind closed doors. Whilst the (much improved) Newsletter gives us a glimpse of the work being done down in the Marsa offices, we still know close to nothing of the information it gathers, the way it gathers it and what conclusions (if any) are reached on its basis. We know that EASO is continuously asking Member States to provide statistics, data, facts, legal information, etc. What happens with this data? Is data accuracy matched against other, possibly non-official sources? How is this data being used by EASO, by the Commission, by Member States? Your guess is as good as ours.
  2. Access to the Operating Plans, the documents explaining EASO's substantial work in Member States like Greece, remains elusive despite these being based on public funds and having a direct impact on the fundamental human rights of persons. This is unacceptable, and should be followed up.
  3. Does EASO have a Fundamental Rights Policy, that states the Agency's principles and ensures it operates (internally ad externally) within a fundamental rights framework? If our memory is correct, the answer is no. 
  4. In 2014 the Consultative Forum moved its Plenary meeting from Malta to Brussels, possibly in an attempt to attract higher participation levels. But what is the real engagement level between EASO and civil society, beyond the yearly plenary meeting?
Do we need to spell out the recurring theme under these 4 queries? No, but we can reiterate what we think is a possible solution: EASO needs to move away from Member States and start acting like a truly European agency, where supporting Member States is not interpreted as meaning an exclusive consideration of Member State sensitivities.  

We've always stressed our position that EASO is an agency we want and should be working with. Stopping this blog is definitely not a sign of lack of interest, but more a decision to prioritise our very limited time and resources in order to focus on those activities closer to our own mission. 

We've tried passing on the EASO Monitor to other entities, including academic institutions...but without success. If you're interested, do get in touch with us as we'd be delighted to pass it on! 

A big big thanks to all our readers and's been great working with you at this end!

Director, aditus foundation

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

EASO Management Board meetings - We have the agendas!

Following our letter of 9 June, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) replied to us the following day and sent us the agendas of all the Management Board meetings held to date! You can find them all here.

While we are very happy for having received them, we would still like to reiterate that these agendas should be made directly accessible to the public, as clearly required by Article 12 of the Management Board Decision No. 6 laying down practical arrangements regarding public access to documents.

As for the Operating Plans, EASO makes them available online ( as long as the relevant national authorities agree with the release of the document or once the activities related to the Operating Plans are fully executed.

We actually think the opposite scenario ought to be the norm: it is during the implementation of these activities that civil society and other stakeholders’ contributions could be most valuable.

Finally, regarding our question on the electronic register of documents, we were informed that it is available in two different links: and

We are also following up our request for the agendas of the expert meetings and hope to post these as soon as we receive them.

Enjoy the reading of all the available documents!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Apologies for earlier incorrect info...& a revised letter asking for document access

We really must apologise for providing incorrect information in our earlier post regarding access to EASO documentation. 

In our letter to EASO requesting access to a series of documents, we incorrectly stated that Management Board Decision No. 6 laying down practical arrangements regarding public access to the documents of EASO is not available on EASO's website. We would like to correct this statement (happily) by confirming that the Decision is in fact available on the EASO Site, in the Background Information section.

In view of this error, we also revised the letter we had sent to EASO. The revised letter more clearly specifies the documents we are requesting to be granted access to, and requests that pending the creation of a system for the publication of the Management Board Meeting Agendas, we be given access to them.

We sincerely apologise for the errors in our letter and related post, and thank EASO for kindly bringing them to our attention in order for us to rectify them.

Friday, 6 June 2014

As yet unpublished documents... Yet again we ask for their publication!

It’s a recurrent topic here in our blog: access to documentation (see some of our posts here).

In the past, we have asked for the disclosure of the Greek Operating Plan, the Luxembourg Plan and the Seat Agreement signed with Malta. We were only successful with the latter. With the Luxembourg and Greek Plans, our requests were rejected. It should also be mentioned that in the meanwhile the Luxembourg Operating Plan was also published, but only because the operation was over.

We will continue reiterating that we feel it is imperative for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to disclose the Plans and other key documents, as we believe that these documents are actually the best starting points civil society has to ensure a completely informed and critical commentary/monitoring of EASO’s work. And not only civil society.

Therefore, this time round we wrote a letter to EASO asking for the publication of three sets of documents: all the Operating Plans, Management Board meeting agendas and – possibly the most important document – Management Board Decision No. 6 laying down practical arrangements regarding public access to documents.

That’s right: the main tool laying down practical details on how to access EASO documents (Management Board Decision No. 6) is itself quite inaccessible! And we must say that we found it (here), at last, but not on EASO’s website.

So, here’s the letter we wrote to EASO. Feel free to share with us any similar experiences and the results of your efforts for publication of EASO’s documents!