Due to protracted procedures due to migration pressure over the past few years, more than one million applications for asylum are still pending before the competent authorities of the EU member states, said Jamil Addou, temporary agency director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Brussels on Wednesday.
Addou, at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), on the presentation of the 2017 EASO report on the EU asylum situation, said that the number of cases under investigation shows that the asylum situation is far from dissolving in Europe.
Although overall, the number of applications considered increased, mainly by submissions in previous years, he said.
As you said, a protracted crisis is still facing the EU countries with serious difficulties. This is despite the fact that last year, compared to the previous year’s figures – when the number of applications submitted exceeded the pre-crisis level – 44 percent less, about 700,000 asylum applications were submitted to EU member states. It has been highlighted since the first time since 2013, that the number of asylum seekers was decreasing. According to data recorded in the first quarter, the decline will continue in 2018, he said.
According to the information, in 2017, nearly half of the Member States started processing their applications as in 2016. He pointed out that although the number of cases initiated in Germany dropped by some 500,000 and that the number of asylum applications in Italy fell by half, in France it increased by about 100,000, and in Spain the number of asylum applications doubled and a significant increase was also registered in Cyprus.
According to him, the EU Office finds that while some Member States are trying to improve the speed of the proceedings through information, legal advice or broadening the possibilities of interpretation, others, including Hungary, are trying to limit access.
He pointed out that illegal immigration generally showed a declining tendency for Member States reacting to closure of offices and accommodation, but limited reception capacity poses risks because of the smuggling of human smugglers, “said Jamil Addou.
Following the report, Péter Niedermüller, EP representative of the Democratic Coalition (DK), on the Commission’s proposal to reform EASO, which is part of the common European asylum reform, points out that fewer refugees are applying for EU countries, constantly and continually talking about migratory pressure, “political hysteria is getting more and more intense”. The EU’s migration and asylum policy has become a prisoner of manipulations – the MEP added.
The purpose of the European Commission’s proposal is to provide the EASO with the tools it needs to transform its implementation facilitation and to the Agency to improve the functioning of the Common European Asylum System. In this regard, it complements the legal and policy instruments of asylum, in particular asylum procedures, standards for the protection of individuals with regard to international protection, the Dublin system, relocation and resettlement.
In the opinion of the Committee, the agency is helping to effectively overcome the structural shortcomings of the EU asylum system: the shortcomings first appeared when migrants and asylum seekers came to the EU in large numbers and uncontrolled in recent years.
New elements of the proposal include the full operational support of asylum procedures, including the conduct of the entire administrative phase of asylum procedure. It is thought that groups of joint EU migration management will help Member States to be needed and, where requested, for example at EU hosts and control centers. The European Commission will coordinate the work of the European Border Guard, EASO and the EU Police Co-ordination Coordinator, Europol’s experts. They will be able to handle the arrival of arrivals, the separation of those in need of protection and non-defense, as well as all the tasks related to asylum and expulsion procedures under the supervision of the host Member State.
The Commission’s proposal also calls for an extension of the Agency’s financial instruments so that EASO can fulfill its increased responsibilities, the EU Commission proposes a budget of EUR 321 million for 2019-2020 and EUR 1.25 billion for the period 2021-2027.