EASO is increasingly supporting the Western Balkans administrations and Turkey, both at a national and regional level, including through a European Union-funded multi-country programme (IPA II, “Regional Protection Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey, phase II”). EASO will continue to do so in the newly started phase 2 of the project (June 2019 - June 2021), where project implementation remains shared with FRONTEX, UNHCR and IOM. Close coordination with the European Commission, EU Delegations, EU Member States and other relevant stakeholders is also taking place to ensure synergies and avoid a duplication of efforts.
The aim of this EU-funded project is to support the Western Balkans and Turkey in protection-sensitive migration management as well as to further align with relevant EU legislation and practices in the area of asylum and reception of asylum seekers.
In the second half of 2019 EASO organised specific regional events focused on Country of Origin Information (COI). In October, a workshop on COI for Western Balkans members of courts and tribunals was organised in Belgrade, and in December a regional workshop on Country of Origin Information focusing on Pakistan and Iraq was organised in Sarajevo, specifically targeting case officers. Both events were very well received.
In the first half of 2020, trainings on EASO core modules are planned both at a regional and national level, to continue supporting the quality of the asylum processes and decisions in the Western Balkans.
At a national level, EASO has developed a closer cooperation through the implementation of two Roadmaps with Serbia and North Macedonia (2017-2019) that are now currently under revision. These documents outline EASO’s activities that will strengthen the national administration in the area of asylum and reception of asylum seekers in the Western Balkans. EASO is also currently reinforcing cooperation with Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A number of missions took place in these four countries to agree on future Roadmaps and identify where EASO’s expertise will be of added value.
Within this framework, EASO has translated its tool for Identification of Persons with Special Needs (IPSN) into Macedonian and Serbian. EASO's IPSN is a publicly available support tool for practitioners who encounter applicants for international protection on their day-to-day work. This was designed to assist in the timely identification and assessment of special needs, and in providing guidance on the special guarantees which need to be put in place.