Member States Operations

Greece
 

Jette Christiansen

Coordinating Officer

Following a request by the Greek government, in February 2011, EASO agreed to support Greece in establishing its  new Asylum Service, First Reception Service, Appeal Authority, and a reception system in general, as well as supporting the reduction of case backlog with the deployment of Member States experts as part of Asylum Support Teams (AST). Following a request by the Greek Government  for further support, EASO continued its support until December 2014. In this second phase EASO deployed AST to support Greek officials with training on the establishment of nationality (in close cooperation with Frontex), on the collection and analysis of statistical data,  and in the field of Country of Origin Information (COI), as well as in providing support on EU funding See the Press Release (OP) and the Press Release (SSP) 

On 13 May 2015, following a request by Greece to further improve and enhance the Greek asylum and reception system, the EASO Executive Director decided to provide Special Support to Greece by providing expertise from EASO and EU Member States up to the end of May 2016. This was extended by an Amendment until 31 December 2016. The request for further support by EASO resulted from the will to ensure sustainability of the good results achieved within the context of EASO support to Greece until then . New support included training of staff, setting up an effective guardianship system for unaccompanied minors, in particular within the asylum procedure, enhancing the quality of the asylum and reception procedures, as well as support for the better management of EU funding complementing the national budget. 

Operations Greece

In September 2015, immediately after the launch of the relocation programme, EASO and Greece also signed the EASO Hotspot Operating Plan to Greece. This document laid down the conditions and objectives of EASO’s specific technical and operational support to Greece. EASO support was further increased by Amendment no 1 (December 2015) and Amendment no 2 (April 2016). 
 
In particular, EASO provided support with the provision of relevant information to potential relocation candidates and the registration process at the Asylum Service, handling outgoing Dublin take charge requests, including relocation, detection of possible document fraud and implementation of the admissibility procedure. 

In December 2016, EASO continued to support Greece and its capacity building process in the framework of a Special Operating Plan to Greece. 
 

EUAA Greece

See Press Release 
 
In December 2017, EASO and the Government of Greece signed a new Operating Plan outlining the technical and operational support measures that the Agency planned to implement in the country in 2018. The Operating Plan built on the previous operational support provided by EASO to Greece and aimed to respond to the pressure on its asylum and reception systems as well as to sustain the full implementation of the EU asylum acquis.  
 
See Press Release 

EASO’s support to Greece continued in 2019 based on a new Operating Plan. In this framework, EASO continued to perform a wide range of operational activities including support in processing of applications under the border and the regular asylum procedure, information provision, handling outgoing Dublin 'take charge' requests, supporting the enhancement of the Greek Asylum and Reception system and training Greek personnel.  

See Press Release 

Operations Samos

 

Under the 2020 Operating Plan EASO doubled its operational presence throughout Greece, continued to support the Asylum and Reception system through a wide range of activities and expanded its operations to include 7 new sites on the Greek mainland. With an amendment to the Operating Plan signed in May, EASO introduced the Voluntary Relocation Programme from Greece to EU+ Member States. 

EUAA Operations

In the 2021 Operating Plan, EASO continued to expand its operations in Greece, introducing new activities to support the dedicated Taskforce for improved reception and asylum management, including the Joint Pilot Project for the establishment of a Multipurpose Reception and Identification Centre on the island of Lesvos. In addition, a new sub measure was introduced in the field of reception, to support the national Strategy on Unaccompanied Minors. 

On 9th December 2021 the Executive Director of EASO and the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum signed the 2022-2024 Operational Plan, which constitutes the longest one in the Agency’s history to date.

The 3 year long 2022-2024 Operational Plan aims at contributing to the enhanced capacity of the Greek Authorities in processing asylum applications and providing reception conditions in line with CEAS, for persons in need of protection in Greece.

The EUAA will provide support to the National Asylum and Reception Authorities in governance, strategic planning, quality and procedures.

Regarding asylum, the Agency will support the asylum processing of applications for international protection at first and second instance, the Relocation programme and the processing of Dublin requests.

Concerning reception, the EUAA will continue supporting first and second line reception national authorities, including in the development and implementation of a national pre-integration strategy.

Through the introduction of a new measure in the Plan, the Agency will also support the National authorities in providing protection to Unaccompanied Children.

Funding, training and capacity building remain horizontal activities across all operations.

EUAA currently operates in around 45 locations throughout Greece with more than 680 personnel of various capacities.

Main National Partners  
Ministry of Migration and Asylum (MoMA)

The Ministry is responsible for general coordination, establishment, management and supervision of relevant authorities and policymaking. Presidential Decree 4, Gov. Gazette A' 4/15.01.2020 regulates the establishment of the Ministry on Migration and Asylum. Within the Ministry, the following Secretariats are established: 

  • General Secretariat for Migration Policy 
  • General Secretariat for the Reception of Asylum Seekers 
  • Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors 
  • Special Secretariat for the Coordination of Stakeholders
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, (MoLSA)   The Ministry is responsible for the definition of labour and welfare policies of the Greek Government. Law 4554/2018 on Guardianship of Unaccompanied Minors defines the responsibilities of the Ministry related to unaccompanied and separated minors. Law 4538/2018 on Foster Care and Adoption prescribes the outline for the National Foster Care System from which unaccompanied and separated children will be benefited as well. 
 
General Secretariat for Migration Policy (GSMP)  As established under Presidential Decree 18, Official Gaz. A'34/19.02.2020 on Renaming and Establishment of General and Special Secretariats at the Ministry of Migration. 
 
Asylum Service (AS)   The Asylum Service is an independent body under the General Secretary for Migration Policy established under Law 3907/2011. According to Law 4375/2016, the Asylum Service is the competent authority for the implementation of asylum Law and other forms of international protection of third country nationals and stateless people. The Asylum Service comprises the Central Asylum Service and the Regional Asylum Services, which include the Regional Asylum Offices (RAOs) and the Independent Asylum Units.
Appeals Authority (AA)  The Appeals Authority is an independent body under General Secretary for Migration Policy. It examines at second instance administrative (quasi-judicial) appeals lodged against decisions issued by the Asylum Service (first instance). It is composed of Appeals Committees.
 
General Secretariat for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (GSRAS)   As established under Presidential Decree 18, Official Gaz. A'34/19.02.2020 on Renaming and Establishment of General and Special Secretariats at the Ministry of Migration. 
 
Reception & Identification Service (RIS)   The Reception and Identification Service is an independent body under the General Secretariat for the Reception of Asylum Seekers. Its mission is to manage third country nationals who cross the Hellenic borders without legal documents and/or procedures, in an effective manner and under conditions that respect their dignity, by placing them in first reception procedures. It is constituted by the Central Service and the Reception and Identification Regional Services. The Central Service is registered in Athens, has the responsibility of programming, planning and coordinating the activities that are taking place in the Regional Services, ensuring the unrestricted exercise of their function. The Central Service is responsible for ensuring the necessary conditions in order to implement the project of the Regional Services. Apart from planning, the Central Service is responsible to supervise/oversee the implementation of actions that are in line with the National Legislation (National Strategy) as well as with the international commitments of the country. The Central Service cooperates with European and International Organizations, while participating in actions and programmes financed by the E.U. and other institutions. 
 
 
Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors (SSPUAM) 

As established under Presidential Decree 18, Official Gaz. A'34/19.02.2020 on Renaming and Establishment of General and Special Secretariats at the Ministry of Migration. The SSPUAM is responsible for the protection of unaccompanied minors and separated minors.

National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA)  The National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) is a supervised organization of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which coordinates the network that provides social support services, care and solidarity to populations experiencing crises or are in need of emergency social aid (par.2, article 6, Law 3106/2003). Under Law 4554/2018, EKKA is responsible for the recruitment and management of professional guardians, additionally according to Law 4756/2020 EKKA is responsible for the representation of unaccompanied minors. Furthermore, EKKA is responsible (Law 4538/2018) to supervise the on-line matchmaking system that supports foster care and adoption procedures remain impartial and ensure the accountability of relevant actors.

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission and EURTF 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

EURTF the European Regional Task Force, is a coordination mechanism jointly developed by EASO, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in identification, registration, asylum support and return of third country nationals, as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which take place either in ports or in specific reception centres. The first EURTF was set up in June 2015, in Catania, Sicily. 

UNHCR

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2019

  576 Personnel
  11 Locations

2020

  639 Personnel
  43 Locations

2021

  689 Personnel
  50 Locations

Figures refer to aggregated data collected during the year. Locations are counted as cities i.e., Athens as one and not as offices (Katehaki, Piraeus, Keranis etc). The same for Thessaloniki, Lesvos and Korinthos. 

Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency delivered full-scale support to Greece through the deployment of multi-disciplinary teams, adapted workflows, and flexible modes of intervention, across more than 40 different locations on mainland Greece and its islands.

Support was provided to the Reception and Identification Service through the establishment of a Queries Helpdesk on the islands and in mainland Greece. The Agency played a leading role in the coordination of the new voluntary scheme for the relocation of UAMs, vulnerable children, and their families. The outbreak of COVID-19, in addition to other contributing factors, greatly impacted the number of new arrivals in Greece. This led to an approximated 50% drop (40,500 applications) in the number of new applicants for international protection compared to 2019 figures. Despite the decrease in the number of new applicants, EASO supported over 5,000 outgoing Dublin requests and assisted in the preparation of 3,400 files for appeals (second instance). 

Greece Operations achievements

In 2020 the Agency dramatically increased its operational support and presence in Greece when compared to 2019 levels. This had a significant impact on the implementation of the 2020 Operating and Technical Assistance Plan for Greece. In total, 639 distinct experts with different profiles were deployed in Greece in 2020. The new asylum law, which was adopted by the Greek government in 2019, brought a major change of scenery for the operational coordination and the role of EASO’s asylum support teams (ASTs). Following this change, and in line with the new operational modalities, the ASTs worked under the direct supervision of the responsible Greek authorities. The Agency also worked closely with the national authorities to reduce the backlog of applications in the north of Greece (Project North). Almost 18,500 interviews were conducted as part of this effort, and 16,400 concluding remarks were drafted by EASO personnel. At the same time, the backlog of interviews across most of the Greek islands was cleared before the end of the year. 

Specific attention was also given to the planning and management of the national system supporting the Greek Reception Service. 

To this end, the Agency deployed multi-disciplinary teams - vulnerability, reception, and experts on UAMs - to all Reception Identification Centres (RICs) on the islands and in mainland Greece to take over the management of 32 different sites. 

As of June 2020, the Agency also began assisting in the new voluntary relocation scheme for UAMs, vulnerable children, and their families. A total of 4,627 interviews were conducted by the Agency and more than 4,440 assessments were concluded. This facilitated the support of more than 3,352 individuals under this scheme using established criteria to determine to which relocating Member State an applicant for international protection could be transferred. By the end of 2020, more than 1,850 transfers were carried out from Greece to 10 participating Member States. 

Italy
Stefano Pes

Stefano Pes

Coordinating Officer

An increase in immigrant arrivals, the implementation of a new EU asylum package, and the need to maintain a high standard in asylum and reception processes motivated Italy to ask EASO for assistance. 

EUAA activities

In June 2013, EASO and Italy signed the first Special Support Plan with a duration until the end of 2014. This Plan covered a number of prioritised areas, such as data collection and analysis, Country of Origin Information (COI), Dublin system, reception system, emergency capacity and training of independent judiciary, as well as further professional development of the National Asylum Commission. 

Italy support office

In March 2015, a new Special Support Plan was signed to continue support activities, whereas in December 2015 - after the launch of the relocation programme as part of the “hotspot” approach - EASO and Italy signed the EASO Hotspot-Relocation Operating Plan to Italy. The Plan laid down the conditions and objectives of EASO’s technical and operational support to Italy. In particular, EASO provided support by joint-processing asylum cases through deployment of asylum support teams (ASTs), composed of national experts. Activities included support with information provision, registration of applications for international protection in view of relocation and handling Dublin 'take charge' requests. 

In 2017 and 2018, EASO extended its activities in Italy on the basis of an Operating Plan for 2017 with its first amendment and an Operating Plan for 2018. EASO provided support to the Italian authorities with provision of relevant information to potential applicants for international protection; handling registration of applicants for international protection; handling Dublin 'take charge' and 'take back' requests through a dedicated support to the Dublin Unit in Rome; strengthening the reception capacity, in particular with regards to unaccompanied minors; professional development activities and study visits for the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration (MOI), activities in the field of COI; and strengthening the Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents in implementing protection measures for unaccompanied children. 

 
Italian Office

In December 2018, EASO, the Italian Ministry of the Interior and the Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents signed a new Operating Plan for 20191. Through this framework, the Agency provided support to the Italian authorities in the following areas: designing an information provision system and developing SOPs, referral pathways and monitoring system for Dublin cases; lodging of applications for international protection; processing of first instance decisions and follow-up with regards to appeals at Territorial Commissions; processing of the Dublin procedures at the Dublin Unit; strengthening the Italian COI Unit in standardising high quality COI used in the asylum decision process; implementing a system to monitor and manage the reception system; supporting the Italian Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents with capacity building activities for volunteer guardians; organising training activities aimed at boosting the technical capacity of immigration police in registering asylum requests. 

SAR support and Relocation

With regard to the 2020 Operating Plan, EASO’s deployments to Italy were reduced as the country had made significant progress in addressing its backlog in first instance and pressure on reception facilities was eased due to decrease in arrivals. As such, EASO shifted its focus to supporting the reduction of backlog of appeals to first instance decisions. The Agency also continued to provide capacity strengthening (although not operational) support on quality reception and asylum. 

In 2020, EASO continued to be heavily involved in ad hoc disembarkations stemming from SAR (Search and Rescue) events and voluntary relocations based on the Standard Operating Procedures which were agreed to in Malta in the autumn of 2019. Furthermore, EASO continued to support the quality and standardisation of asylum procedures and the monitoring of the Italian reception system, also supporting the standardisation of procedures and data collection. 

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, an amendment to the 2020 Operating Plan to Italy has been agreed and signed by all beneficiaries. 

Operations

The migratory situation in Italy and the national policy environment in the field of asylum and migration have experienced substantial changes over the past years, with a new wave of changes brought by the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020. 
The health emergency and the increase of sea arrivals put the Italian reception system under pressure, with significant impact on the management of the system. 

The Agency support in 2021 builds on the results achieved in 2020, and continued addressing the consequences of the disproportionate pressure on the Italian asylum and reception system, also in view of the Covid-19 health emergency. Specifically, in the 2021 Operating Plan, the following areas were be prioritized: 

  • Quality and standardisation of access to asylum procedures, including in emergency situations and ad hoc disembarkation events; 
  • Support the quality and standardization of Dublin procedure and asylum determination procedures;  
  • Support the management of judicial backlog; 
  • Support the quality management and monitoring of the Italian reception system; 
  • Support the coordination mechanisms amongst Italian asylum authorities and the efficiency and standardisation of procedures through the development and management of information systems. 

See Press Release (1), Press Release (2), Press Release (3), Press Release (4), Press Release (5) 

To ensure a higher impact on its operations, the EUAA agreed with Italian authorities a 3 year Operational Plan in Italy. From 2022 to 2024 – in accordance with the operational situation and needs assessment carried out with the main Italian stakeholders – the following operational objectives and results will be pursued:

  • Enhanced capacity of the Italian authorities to ensure timely and harmonised access to the asylum procedure in compliance with the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
  • Enhanced quality and standardisation of Dublin and asylum determination procedure in Italy.
  • Enhanced capacity of the Italian authorities to manage the judicial backlog regarding asylum cases.
  • Enhanced quality and sustainability of the Italian reception system.
  • Improved coordination of the cooperation and solidarity mechanism among EU MSs and of post SAR disembarkation activities for timely implementation of the Voluntary Relocation process as per Standard Operating Procedures (under the 2019 Malta Declaration).

The Operational Plan was signed by the Head of Department of Public Security and the Vice Head of Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration within the Ministry of Interior, by the Head of Department of Judicial Organization, Personnel and Services of the Ministry of Justice, and by the EASO Executive Director.

[1] See corrigendum 

Main National Partners  
The Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration

The Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration, within the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for the organisation of the assistance and reception of irregular migrants, of applicants for international protection and beneficiaries of international protection. 

The Department for Public Security The Department for Public Security, within the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for the coordination of all activities related to the management of order and public security, technical and operational coordination of the police forces, the directorate and administration of State Police and the management of technical support. 
 
The National Asylum Commission (NAC) The National Asylum Commission (NAC) is responsible for the coordination of the Territorial Commissions (TCs) in which applications for international protection are dealt with in first instance, for the Country of Origin Information (COI) Unit, provision of guidelines and training of TCs’ staff and for the management of database on applicants for international protection. 
The Specialized Sections on Immigration and International Protection of Tribunals  The Specialized Sections on Immigration and International Protection of Tribunals are responsible for immigration, international protection and free movement of EU citizens in 26 Tribunals, managing asylum seekers’ appeals against decisions issued by the Territorial Commissions. 
The Court of Cassation The Court of Cassation is in charge of ensuring the observance and harmonised interpretation of the law, as well as compliance with the limits of the various jurisdictions. 
 

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission and EURTF 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

EURTF the European Regional Task Force, is a coordination mechanism jointly developed by EASO, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in identification, registration, asylum support and return of third country nationals, as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which take place either in ports or in specific reception centres. The first EURTF was set up in June 2015, in Catania, Sicily. 

UNHCR 

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM  IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2019

  297 Personnel
  20 Locations

2020

  208 Personnel
  45 Locations

2021

  264 Personnel
  51 Locations

Figures refer to aggregated data collected during the year. Locations are counted as offices and not cities.

Italy remained the second largest beneficiary of EASO operational support in 2020.

Sustained support to quality and standardisation of asylum procedures was ensured through the implementation of coaching missions, the setting up of a helpdesk service for remote immigration offices, and the deployment of Reception Information System officers to the prefectures mostly affected by the increase of arrivals in 2020. The successful implementation of a pilot project in support of six tribunals at the beginning of 2020, resulted in the extension of the support measure to 26 Specialised sections of the tribunals as well as to the Supreme Court of Cassation and its General Prosecutor’s Office. 

Italy Operations - achievements

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the introduction of temporary restrictive measures in Italy, all face-to-face activities were suspended in mid February 2020, considerably impacting the implementation of measures under the 2020 Operational and Technical Assistance Plan for Italy. The situation led to the adoption of contingency plans in March 2020, and a subsequent amendment to the 2020 plan, reflecting innovative and safe working modalities in the interest of the Agency personnel and applicants for international protection, particularly in the reception centres.

The Agency support at first instance was scaled down in 2020, and efforts increasingly shifted in support of 21 ad hoc disembarkations and voluntary relocations in line with standard operating procedures (100% of all requests by Member States and the European Commission). In January 2020, a pilot project was launched under the 2020 Operational and Technical Assistance Plan for Italy in support of specialised sections of the Italian tribunals and the reduction in the backlog of cases at second instance. The deployment of 55 Research Officers ensured the processing of appeals at second instance of more than 10,000 persons (mostly through the preparation of files for judicial hearings, preliminary study of cases, judicial research, and scheduling in preparation of hearings). In October 2020, The Agency also began supporting the Supreme Court of Cassation and its General Prosecutor’s Office, focusing mainly on file preparation. 

achievement italy

Support towards the strengthening of the internal procedures and case management of the National Asylum Commission (NAC), under the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration, was facilitated by the Agency through enhanced quality of COI research and the development of operative tools for the quality management of financial and procurement procedures. 

Targeted support towards the improvement of quality and the standardisation of registration procedures continued in 2020. The sustained deployment of EASO experts in the Dublin Unit contributed to the processing of 1,883 Dublin outgoing requests, and the development of informative material and tools in support of Dublin procedures

Targeted support towards the improvement of quality and the standardisation of registration procedures continued in 2020. 

Malta
Bart Vandenbroucke

Bart Vandenbroucke 

Coordinating Officer

The Agency has been assisting Malta since 2017 in an effort to further enhance the quality of the national asylum system. The main focus of the collaboration with the Maltese government was directed towards the revision of the age assessment procedures, the organisation of trainings for the local authorities and the dissemination of best practices for lodging applications for international protection.  

Malta operations

In 2018, EASO continued its support to the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, now International Protection Agency, by providing training sessions to Caseworkers and Dublin Officers.  

In 2019 EASO and Malta cooperated on ad hoc voluntary relocation exercises taking place on the Maltese territory. This cooperation included support for the registration of applications for international protection, information provision, support for vulnerability assessments, and support for the Dublin Unit. 

During the same year, according to data of the Ministry of Home Affairs, sea arrivals more than doubled compared to 2018. An EASO assessment confirmed that the increased number of arrivals was putting the Maltese asylum and reception system under disproportionate pressure, by straining the capacity and resources across a number of areas, including the registration of applications for international protection, first-instance determination and Dublin procedure, second-instance determination and reception. The volume of applications grew proportionally and the first seven months of 2019 registered an increase of 83% compared with the same period in 2018. Accordingly, the average number of monthly applications also increased. 

Malta operations offices

Since 2020, EASO increased its operational support to Malta in the field of registration and, for the first time, reception. EASO personnel started supporting the Maltese authorities through the deployment of Vulnerability Assessors and technical support concerning reception, including age assessment procedures. Additionally, EASO continued to support the Maltese authorities with ad hoc disembarkations and voluntary relocations. 

As early as January 2020 the number of cumulative irregular arrivals to Malta surpassed those recorded in the same period of 2019 and, despite a ban on entry, showed a significant increase. Successively, the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the exacerbation of conflict and fighting in Libya, affected the arrivals in the country and, broadly speaking, irregular migration along the central Mediterranean route. In line with nationwide Covid-19 prevention measures, face-to-face registrations in Malta were interrupted for nine weeks before restarting in the second half of May remotely.

Malta_operations

Operating in the offices of the Refugee Commissioner, EASO personnel resumed support to the registrations of asylum cases, the renewal of asylum seeker documents and administrative work. Prior to the suspension of registrations, applications almost doubled compared to 2019. During that period, EASO supported the Maltese asylum authorities in handling the increased pressure and registering 8 out of every 10 applications. In parallel, EASO kept providing support to the Malta Dublin Unit during the pandemic.   

The high number of arrivals registered in 2019 and early 2020 placed the reception system under pressure. The situation was further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the biggest reception centre on the island, the Hal Far Tent Centre, a mandatory quarantine had been imposed following several positive Covid-19 cases found in the centre in early April 2020.   

EUAA Operations

With the 2020 Operating Plan, EASO started supporting the Maltese authorities by carrying out vulnerability screening and referrals.  Towards the end of 2020, the Operating Plan was amended so that EASO would also start providing support to age assessment procedures.  

Several tools were reviewed with EASO’s support, namely:

  • a Referral Form, used to refer vulnerable people to the  Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS);
  • a Vulnerability Assessment Tool;
  • a Dry Screening Tool to prioritise cases of registered applicants that need to be assessed;
  • a screening tool to prioritise cases that need to be assessed from the residents that did not have access to the asylum procedure;
  • and a recording tool to keep track of the stage of each referral.  

In cooperation with the Maltese authorities and external stakeholders, a new multi-annual Operating Plan was drafted and signed in December for the period 2022 – 2024.

Building on the progress achieved through the operational and technical assistance provided since 2019, and assuming that the number of arrivals will remain at similar levels as in 2021, the Agency may initiate, in cooperation with the Maltese authorities, phasing out from specific support areas (such as decreasing direct support to asylum processing) towards the end of 2022, with a possible carry over into early 2023.

The 2022 Operational Plan, in this perspective, foresees a shift of activities involving information provision, where sessions will no longer be supported by the EUAA, but support in developing content and tools will take its place.

Secondly, the activity involving support to the Care Team of AWAS (Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seeker) through age assessments was withdrawn.

All other activities that were supported by EASO during the 2021 OP will continue into 2022 with the following outcomes:

  • Expected Outcome 1: Enhanced capacity of the Maltese Authorities to ensure swift access to international protection procedure and reduce the backlog at first instance
  • Expected Outcome 2: Enhanced capacity of the Agency for Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) in identifying, prioritising, and supporting asylum applicants residing in Malta.

Due to the multi-annual nature of the Plan, the agreed measures may be subject to annual and/or ad-hoc reviews as necessary to ensure their continued relevance and added value.

Main National Partners  
International Protection Agency (IPA)  

After an initial trial period where the International Protection Agency (IPA) worked alongside UNHCR, on 1st January 2002 it became fully operational and started to deal with applications for international protection completely on its own. IPA's main responsibly is to receive, process and determine applications for international protection in Malta. This Agency is also bound by the obligations assumed by Malta under the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.  

IPA's 's fundamental objective is to ensure a totally independent, fair, efficient and swift eligibility determination process while, at the same time, guaranteeing the best quality possible regarding the hearing, analysis and determination of applications. EASO collaborates with IPA to improve the access to asylum procedure in Malta and increase the capacity to manage the asylum backlog at first instance determination. In doing so, EASO personnel supports IPA in the field of registration, Dublin Regulation and Country of Origin Information. 
 

Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) 
 

The Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) was legally set up in 2009 and falls under the responsibility of the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security. AWAS is responsible for six open centre accommodation's residents who have received protection status or are in the process of having their claim for asylum processed. Additionally, AWAS also manages the guardianship of unaccompanied minors. The Agency implements the national legislation and policy concerning the welfare of refugees, persons enjoying international protection and asylum seekers.  

In practice, AWAS manages reception facilities, provides information programmes in the area of employment, housing, health, welfare and education, and promotes government schemes related to resettlement voluntary returns. Accordingly, EASO supports AWAS in enhancing its capacity to implement reception standards in line with the Common European Asylum System, providing technical assistance in vulnerability assessments, social work, age assessment and information provision. 
 

Detention Services (DS) 

In Malta, persons detained in terms of the Immigration Act are held in facilities specifically designated for this purpose, which are situated inside army or police premises, such as Safi Barracks. The centres are administered by a specially established civilian force known as the Detention Service (DS), which is run by army officers, and is under the authority of the Ministry for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement.  
 
The Detention Service was set up to run the operations of all closed accommodation centres, provide secure and humane accommodation for detained persons and maintain a safe and secure environment. Immigrants are kept in detention pursuant to the issuance of a detention order by the Principal Immigration Officer in accordance with applicable legislation. 

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission and EURTF 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

EURTF the European Regional Task Force, is a coordination mechanism jointly developed by EASO, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in identification, registration, asylum support and return of third country nationals, as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which take place either in ports or in specific reception centres. The first EURTF was set up in June 2015, in Catania, Sicily. 

UNHCR

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2019

  40 Personnel
  1 Locations

2020

  85 Personnel
  4 Locations

2021

  140 Personnel
  7 Locations

Figures refer to aggregated data collected during the year

Operational support to Malta was significantly increased in 2020, with EASO deployed experts registering over 90% of all applications lodged. EASO initiated support to the national reception authorities in the field of age assessments, which will continue in 2021 under the agreed Operating Plan signed between the Agency and Malta. 

Support to Malta was stepped up during the second half of 2020, following the gradual easing of restrictive measures imposed during the early months of the year as a result of COVID-19. Support in addressing the backlog of applications at first instance resulted in eight out of 10 decisions being supported by evaluations carried out by the Agency case officers. The Agency also provided support to the Malta Dublin Unit in the evaluation of procedures and other related activities, including the carrying out of all take charge requests to EU+ countries. Towards the end of 2020, the Agency extended its support to include the drafting of appeals submissions to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, which will continue in 2021. In June 2020, the Agency facilitated the establishment of a COI helpdesk in Malta, with the recruitment of dedicated personnel to work on queries received from the field. The helpdesk also delivered country briefings on Bangladesh, Libya, and Venezuela. 

Eight new office containers were set up towards the end of 2020 in an effort to increase EASO’s capacity to run registrations and conduct interviews. 
Eight new office containers were set up towards the end of 2020 in an effort to increase EASO’s capacity to run registrations and conduct interviews.
Photo Credits: EUAA

As part of the planned support to the Maltese authorities in the management of the reception system, EASO experts also started conducting vulnerability screening of the resident population in open centres. This measure resulted in the completion of over 200 vulnerability assessments by the end of the year. On 10 September, EASO and Malta signed an Amendment to the Operating Plan, which included, amongst other measures, support to the reception authorities in devising and undertaking age assessments. By the end of 2020, the age assessment standard operating procedures were drafted
with the first field support activities planned to commence in 2021. In December 2020, the Operating Plan for 2021 was agreed between EASO and Malta with focused support on asylum (improved access to the asylum procedure in Malta and increased capacity to manage the asylum backlog at first instance determination) and reception (enhanced capacity to implement reception standards in line with the CEAS).  

EASO also supported the national authorities in six voluntary relocation exercises, involving arrivals from 16 SAR events. 

Cyprus
Francesco Torcoli

Francesco Torcoli

Coordinating Officer

EASO’s support to Cyprus dates back to June 2014, with the establishment of a Special Support Plan. The Plan  allowed EASO to support in a number of areas such as training of staff, support to managing vulnerable groups, advice on age assessment procedures, enhancing the reception conditions, as well as concerning data collection and analytical capacities (i.e. statistics and information technology). Since then, Cyprus continued to request EASO’s support to face the growing  pressure on its asylum system. 

Cyprus Operations

The Operating Plan 2021, signed on 17 December 2020, thus follows eight years of continuous cooperation between EASO and the Republic of Cyprus.  

The 2021 Operating Plan focuses on supporting and enhancing national capacities in the areas of registration of applications for international protection and access to asylum procedure, reception, backlog reduction for first instance and second instance asylum cases. 

Cyprus Operations

The Pournara First Reception Centre continues to be one of the main beneficiaries of EASO support, namely the so-called ‘Safe Zone’, the Examination Centre for interviews and the Registration area.  Activities supported by EASO include   enhancing the system’s efficiency and effectiveness through digitalization and remote working modalities, strengthening the attention on best practices especially in relation to vulnerability and quality, and contributing to the creation and implementation of a national reception model and strategy. The Agency provides technical support and capacity building activities, along with increased operational support, to reduce existing backlog of first and second instance asylum cases, in order to reduce the pressure that the Cypriot asylum system has been experiencing in the last years.

Cyprus Operations

The 2022-2024 Operational Plan, the first of the multi-annual plans to be signed in Cyprus, signed on December 13, 2021 between EASO, the Minister of the Interior and the Chief Registrar of the Republic of Cyprus. The plan aims to continue contributing to the enhanced implementation of the EU Asylum Acquis and EU reception standards for persons in need of protection in Cyprus.  

The 2022 Operational plan provides support to Cypriot authorities in line with the assistance previously provided in 2021,  under 3 measures: Support to Asylum (registration, first instance and determination at appeal), Support to Reception and Cross Cutting Support (applicants with special needs, quality, capacity building digitalization and transfer procedures). 

Regarding Support to Asylum, the EUAA aims at strengthening the capacity of the Aliens and Immigration Unit of the Police (AIU) and the Cyprus Asylum Service (CAS) to respond to registrations and arrivals primarily at the First Reception Centre ‘Pournara’. The Agency will also continue assisting CAS with processing applications at first instance and enhancing the capacity of the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) to manage and reduce the backlog at second instance.  

Concerning Support to Reception, the EUAA will continue to implement activities in the Kofinou Reception Centre (i.e. social work, reception support, info provision). Following the development of the integrated national reception strategy in 2021, the EUAA will supports its operationalization and implementation. 

Lastly, the 2022-2024 Operational Plan outlines Cross Cutting Support which the EUAA will be providing to the relevant authorities, to inform practices across asylum and reception. The support provided focuses on streamlining procedures, developing tools and providing the resources for support to applicants with special needs, quality assurance mechanisms, capacity building, digitalization and relocation exercises. 

Throughout the implementation of the Plan, the Agency in Cyprus also plans to begin engaging with, and supporting additional stakeholders, including: the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD), Ministry of Health (MoH) and Social Welfare Services (SWS). 

Main National Partners   
Asylum Service, Ministry of the Interior 

The Asylum Service is responsible for the first instance determination of asylum applications, including the examination of the Dublin III Regulation criteria. In case an application is rejected by the Asylum Service (even if subsidiary protection is granted), the applicant has the right to lodge an appeal against this decision, before the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC), which must examine both points of law and substance. The decisions are based on the Refugee Law 2000 (6(I)/2000) and its subsequent amendments. The Asylum Service is also responsible, by the Refugee Law, for the operation of reception and accommodation centres for asylum seekers, as well as for coordinating all other competent authorities on asylum issues. 

Aliens and Immigration Service to the Police, Ministry of the Interior The Aliens and Immigration Service to the Police (AISP) is primarily responsible for receiving and registering applications for international protection on behalf of the Asylum Service (including fingerprinting for EURODAC and Dublin purposes). The AISP is also responsible for implementing detention and deportation orders issued by the Director of the Civil Registry and Migration Department.  
Civil Registry and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior  Civil Registry and Migration Department is the result of the consolidation of the Migration, Registration and Election Services, which were part of the Ministry of Interior and it is competent for civil registry and migration related matters, such as issuance of residence permits to third country nationals who are holders of an international protection status, handling applications for family reunification and issuing of entry and residence permits.
Social Welfare Services, Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance The Social Welfare Services (SWS) carry the responsibility for the provision of social welfare services to applicants and beneficiaries of international protection. Where the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the Director of the SWS acts as the guardian of the minor during the asylum procedure and takes all measures necessary under the Refugee Laws and the Regulations under it on the minor’s behalf and on his best interest including in respect of the asylum procedure.
Ministry of Health 

According to the Refugee Law, applicants for international protection are entitled to any pharmaceutical treatment free of charge at public hospitals and health centres, when the applicant does not have sufficient funds. Obligatory medical screening examinations are also taking place at public hospitals upon the submission of the application for international protection. 

General Secretariat for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (GSRAS) As established under Presidential Decree 18, Official Gaz. A'34/19.02.2020 on Renaming and Establishment of General and Special Secretariats at the Ministry of Migration. 
International Protection Administrative Court   The International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) began operating as of 18 June 2019, and appeals were submitted before the court as of July 2019. IPAC is competent for examining appeals relating to provisions of the Refugee Law. Appeals have a suspensive effect, and both facts and points of law are examined. With a constitutional amendment, in September 2020 the time limit to appeal before the International Protection Administrative Court was reduced from 75 to 15 days. 
Supreme Court       The Supreme Court of Cyprus is the highest court of the Republic. All appeal decisions taken by IPAC can be further appealed before the Supreme Court. At this level, they will not have a suspensive effect and only points of law are examined. 

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission and EURTF 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

EURTF the European Regional Task Force, is a coordination mechanism jointly developed by EASO, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in identification, registration, asylum support and return of third country nationals, as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which take place either in ports or in specific reception centres. The first EURTF was set up in June 2015, in Catania, Sicily. 

UNHCR

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2019

  86 Personnel
  8 Locations

2020

  123 Personnel
  7 Locations

2021

  164 Personnel
  6 Locations

Figures refer to aggregated data collected during the year.

In 2020, EASO initiated support to second instance authorities - the International Protection Administrative Court - to reduce the backlog and improve the quality of file preparation through the secondment of research officers, peer-to-peer information exchange, and judicial professional development activities. 

Cyprus Operations achievements

In the first two months of 2020, prior to the temporary suspension of registration activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak, migration pressure on the Cypriot asylum system remained high. The Agency provided support to the Cypriot national authorities in the registration of 75 % of all applications lodged in 2020. The share of applications supported by the Agency continued to increase compared to previous years (55% in 2018 and 70% in 2019), affirming the key role of the Agency in supporting the Cypriot registration capacity. More than two-thirds of all registrations carried out by EASO personnel related to persons who had entered Cyprus illegally.  

The Agency initiates support for the second instance authorities. Development and implementation of remote workflows for the interview procedure, alongside a full digitalisation of EASO asylum files. Support to the Cypriot authorities in the ad hoc relocation of 30 vulnerable individuals (14 UAMs and 16 members of single-parent families) from Cyprus to Finland. Consistent with previous years, the majority of arrivals in Cyprus were detected at the Green Line (92%), and close to 500 migrants arrived by sea. The Agency continued to support the Cypriot Asylum Service (CAS) in both the management and reduction of the backlog of first instance cases. In response to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Agency quickly explored alternative solutions to efficiently process applications for international protection. From April 2020, EASO case officers successfully conducted asylum interviews remotely, with other face-to-face interviews conducted in full adherence to national social distancing frameworks. With the deployment of additional EASO case officers, the number of interviews conducted during the summer increased significantly, declining later in November 2020 due to the second wave of the pandemic. By December 2020, the numbers gradually increased again when remote working modalities were fully reintroduced. The Agency also supported the CAS in improving reception conditions through community and social work activities in Kofinou. 

Retrieve from 2020 EASO Annual General Report

 

Spain
Santos Begoña

Santos Begoña 

Coordinating Officer

On the 17th of December 2020 EASO`s Executive Director Nina Gregori and the Secretary of State for Migration, Hana Jalloul Muro, signed the very first Operating Plan between the Agency and Spain. This followed extensive consultations since the summer of 2020.  

With this Operating Plan EASO now supports all the major Member States of first arrival – Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Spain. EASO and the Secretary of State for Migration carried out a Joint Rapid Needs Assessment in the autumn in order to identify needs in the area of reception. Actions for support were subsequently formulated and agreed upon in an Operating Plan. The focus of the Plan is broad support to the development of a new model for reception and the related structural and organisational changes, including training. EASO also committed to work with the Spanish authorities in the Canary Islands where arrivals had risen substantially to over 23,000 by the end of 2020. The Operating Plan also includes an inception phase for cooperation in the area of resettlement.

Spain Operations

On the 17th of December 2021 EASO`s Executive Director Nina Gregori and Secretary of State for Migration Jesús Perea Cortijo signed an Operating Plan for the years 2022 and 2023. This cooperation will build on the very first Operating Plan between the agency and Spain implemented (and assessed) throughout 2021.

Actions for support have focused, and will continue to focus, on broad support to the development of a new model for reception and the related structural and organisational changes, including aspects such as data management and funding. EASO also remains committed to working with the Spanish authorities in the Canary Islands and increasingly in other areas of Spain which see high numbers of arrivals.

In addition to broadening and deepening the work on information provision and vulnerability procedures, contingency planning and reception conditions monitoring, the EUAA will seek to provide support to the development of new reception centres throughout the Spanish territory – and to the improvement of existing ones. Cooperation in the area of resettlement, in particular with regard to info materials and training, will continue after successful initiatives in 2021.

Training of a wide range of stakeholders in the area of reception remains overall a key pillar of the new two-year Operating Plan; training activities will cover induction, specific reception-related topics and training of trainers with the aim to strengthen capacity among the authorities.

Main National Partners   

Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations (MISSM) 

Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones (MISSM) 
 

Royal Decree 497/2020 of 28 of April establishes in its Article 7.1(a) the basic organisational structure of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. It replaces the former Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security, in accordance with the Royal Decree 2/2020 of 12 January 2020. Article 21 of the Royal Decree 139/2020 of 28 of January establishes that the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration is responsible of the State Secretary for Migration in charge of developing policies on foreigners, immigration and migration.   

Royal Decree 286/2021 of 20 April amends the Royal Decree 139/2020 and Royal Decree 497/2020 and stablishes a new organisational structure. 

State Secretary for Migration-(SEM) 

Royal Decree 497/2020  in it’s article 5 stablishes that the State Secretary for Migration is responsible for developing policies on foreigners, immigration and migration. Royal Decree 286/2021 amends article 5 and establishes a new organizational structure under the State Secretary for Migration, divided in 2 Directorates Generals (Directorate-General for Migration and  Directorate-General for International Protection Programs and Humanitarian Assistance and 3 Sub-Directorates (Sub-Directorate General for Migration Analysis, Sub-Directorate General for Economic Management and European Funds and Sub-Directorate General  for Legal Affairs). 

Directorate-General for International Protection Programs and Humanitarian Assistance 
 

Dirección General de Programas de Protección Internacional y Atención Humanitaria 

Directorate-General for International Protection Programs and Humanitarian Assistance former Directorate-General for Inclusion and Humanitarian Assistance (DGIAH). The new organizational structure is divided in 2 Sub-Directorates:

  • Sub-Directorate General for Programs  
  • and Sub-Directorate General for Emergencies and Migration Centres.  

The main competences of the new Directorate are:

  1. the planning, development and management of the national reception system and humanitarian assistance programs
  2. the planning, development and management of the reception facilities
  3. management in cases of arrivals of third country nationals.

Sub-Directorate General for Programs  

Subdirección General de Programas

According to Royal Decree 286/2021 of 20 April, the Sub-Directorate General for Programs is responsible for:
  1. the planning, development and management of the national system for the comprehensive reception and integration of asylum seekers, refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection, stateless persons and people under the temporary protection regime.
  2. The management of grants and collaboration with public and private entities whose activities are related to the reception and integration.
  3. The planning, development and management of humanitarian assistance programs for immigrants and urgent intervention for exceptional situations.
  4. The management of grants and collaboration with public and private entities whose activities are related to the protection of migrant’s human rights.
  5. The development and management of voluntary return and family reunification programs and the reception and inclusion of migrants with a VISA for job search in close cooperation with the General Secretariat for Inclusion and Social Welfare Objectives and Policies 

Sub-Directorate General for Emergencies and Migration Centres  

Subdirección General de Emergencias y Centros de Migraciones 

According to Royal Decree 286/2021 of 20 April, the Sub-Directorate General for Emergencies and Migration Centres is responsible for:

  1. the coordination and planning of emergency interventions in case of exceptional situations and humanitarian emergencies, in collaboration, where appropriate, with the autonomous communities, Government Delegations and Sub-delegations, local corporations, as well as with public and private entities.
  2. The agreement with other ministerial departments, autonomous communities, local entities and public and private entities of reception and inclusion interventions addressed to migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection and, where appropriate, stateless persons and individuals under the temporary protection scheme, in coordination with the General Secretariat for Inclusion and Social Welfare Objectives and Policies.
  3. The planning, management and monitoring of migration centers, as well as referrals from these centers to other resources or programs.
  4. The management of movable assets and immovable resources for the migration centers, their inventory; the management of leases and, where appropriate, the, the adaptation and conservation of the centers for the reception of migrants and the maintenance of their facilities; as well as the planning, coordination, preparation and management of works projects that affect migration centers.
  5. The proposal for the contracting of works, services and supplies necessary for the operation of the centers. 

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission and EURTF 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

EURTF the European Regional Task Force, is a coordination mechanism jointly developed by EASO, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in identification, registration, asylum support and return of third country nationals, as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which take place either in ports or in specific reception centres. The first EURTF was set up in June 2015, in Catania, Sicily. 

UNHCR

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2021

  21 Personnel
  8 Locations

Figures refer to aggregated data collected during the year.

In response to an initial request from Spain, EASO and the Spanish authorities agreed to conduct a joint rapid needs assessment of the national reception system, in conjunction with the Ministry of Inclusion.

This exercise was conducted throughout September and October 2020 and closely followed with an agreement and signature of an Operating Plan – Special Support on Reception in December 2020. The Operating Plan was built on five specific measures (four in the field of reception and one on resettlement): Facilitated support to the Spanish authorities in the transition towards a new model for reception. 

Spain Operations achievements

Organisational structures and related systems to be developed in order to implement the new reception model for the Spanish reception system.  

  1. Spain Joint Rapid Needs Assessment concluded with the Spanish authorities in the field of reception. 
  2. First Operating Plan – Special Support on Reception signed by EASO and Spain in December 2020. 
  3. Strengthened capacity within the Spanish reception system through professional development, tools, and materials.  
  4. Enhanced capacity to offer reception services in locations subjected to particular pressure (with a firm focus on the Canary Islands).  
  5. Inception of support for the Spanish authorities to facilitate the fulfilment of their resettlement pledges. 
  • Address of main EASO office in Madrid: Jose Abascal, 39. Madrid – In addition, EASO is also offering support in the Canary Islands mainly in Canarias and Tenerife. 
Lithuania
Alessandro Abate

Alessandro Abate

Coordinating Officer

In the summer of 2021, following an unprecedented increase of irregular migration flows, Lithuania registered a significant rise in the number of asylum applications, which put particular pressure on its asylum and reception systems. 

Lithuania_vilnius

 

In July 2021, Lithuanian authorities requested the Agency’s support to carry out asylum and reception related procedures. EASO conducted a rapid assessment exercise together with the national authorities, that led to the signature of an Operational Plan, further amended on 14th September 2021 with a duration until 30th June 2022. 

The Agency’s response to the particular pressure faced by Lithuania combines immediate support to the asylum and reception systems, through the rapid deployment of asylum support teams and provision of interpretation services, together with a medium-term intervention focusing on building the capacity of Lithuanian authorities to cope with the changed context and its possible future evolution. 

On 14 September 2021, EUAA signed a new Operational Plan with the Republic of Lithuania to replace the one signed in July and to last until 30 June 2022. The current Operational Plan aims at providing immediate support to the local asylum and reception systems through the rapid deployment of operational personnel and interpreters, together with a medium-term intervention focusing on enhancing the capacity of Lithuanian authorities to cope with the changed migratory context.

Main National Partners   
Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania  

The Ministry of the Interior (MoI) is the main institution responsible to coordinate the implementation of the Lithuanian policies and regulations on migration. In particular, the following tasks fall under the coordination of MoI: migration, asylum and citizenship procedures; issuance and record-keeping of documents proving personal identity and citizenship; travel documents; residence permits; free movement of persons. 

Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania  The Ministry of Social Security and Labour (MoSSL) is responsible to analyse economic migration phenomena, including evolution of needs and trends, and implementation of regulatory measures related to economic migration. MoSSL is further responsible 
to coordinate and foster integration of beneficiaries of international protection and third country nationals legally present in Lithuania. MoSSL is also responsible for the management of the Refugees Reception Centre in Rukla, which also accommodates unaccompanied 
minors as well as vulnerable asylum seekers in case other reception facilities have reached the capacity limits. 
Migration Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania   The Migration Department (MD), under the MoI, is the main institution implementing state policy in the area of migration. With regard to international protection, the MD implements asylum procedures and is responsible for issuing decisions on the applications for international protection. The MD makes decisions regarding granting (or refusal to grant) an asylum also collects and analyses information on the countries of origin of the asylum seekers and, in case of a need, coordinates joint action, related to asylum procedures, implemented by the state institutions, other institutions and non-governmental organisations. 
State Border Guard Service under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania 
 
The State Border Guard Service (SBGS) is established under the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Lithuania. SBGS is responsible for the enforcement of public safety in the fields of State border guard and, within the scope of competence, to manage irregular migration. The main tasks of SBGS are: to ensure the inviolability of the State border and implement the policy of State border guarding; to implement international agreements, laws and other legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania establishing the legal regulations of the State border; to prevent, detect and investigate criminal activities and other violations of law; to protect human rights and freedoms and ensure public peace and security. SBGS is also managing closed reception facilities at 20 border crossing points where asylum applicants (who are not yet allowed entrance into Lithuanian territory) are accommodated. In addition to the above, SBGS is also tasked to manage the temporary reception facilities that were established to respond to the influx of irregular migrants: 1 tented reception facility erected in Foreigners’ Registration Centre territory (Pabradė), 1 temporary reception facility which houses asylum seekers in SBGS School dormitory (Medininkai). Several temporary reception facilities (tents) are set up in frontier stations.  
Foreigners' Registration Centre (FRC) of the State Border Guard Service  
 

The Foreigners’ Registration Centres (FRC) are reception facilities for asylum seekers and irregular migrants during the processing of their asylum applications. FRCs are managed by the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) and consists of permanent and temporary reception facilities. There are currently three such Centres – in Pabradė, Medininkai and Kybartai.

Refugees’ Reception Centre  The Refugee’s Reception Centre is a budgetary institution which first of all acts as a coordinator of the national integration programme for foreigners granted protection and as a guardian for unaccompanied minors. The Centre also accommodates asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, other persons that are relocated during humanitarian operations. Refugee’s Reception Centre has also recently become a dedicated facility for reception of vulnerable asylum seekers. There are currently two reception sites falling under this Centre – in Rukla and in Vilnius (Naujininkai).

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

UNHCR

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2021

  17 Field Support Officer
  61* Personnel

*Total number with interpreters

N/A

Latvia
Alessandro Abate

Alessandro Abate

Coordinating Officer 

In the summer of 2021, due to unprecedented increase in arrivals, the asylum and reception systems of the Republic of Latvia reached their capacity limit, which resulted, on 10th August 2021, in a declaration of a state of emergency in four administrative territories (Ludza, Krāslava, Augšdaugava and Daugavpils). On 18th August 2021,  Latvia requested the support of the Agency to implement asylum and reception procedures in a timely manner.  

On 8th September 2021, following a needs assessment conducted with the national authorities, EASO and Latvia signed an Operating Plan for an initial duration until 31th December 2021. The Plan addressed the operational needs of the Republic of Latvia in the identified priority areas. It foresaw the deployment of teams of interpreters with the aim to improve effectiveness and efficiency in processing asylum applications and in providing reception services for applicants of international protection. 

The Plan is now extended until the end of March 2022. The Operational Plan foresees the deployment of teams of interpreters in support of the Latvian authorities with aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in processing asylum applications and in providing reception services for the applicants of international protection.

EUAA notebook

 

Main National Partners   
Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia 

The Ministry of the Interior (MoI) is the main institution responsible to manage and to coordinate the implementation of the Republic of Latvia’s policies and regulations on migration and international protection.  

Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Republic of Latvia   The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) is established under the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia. The OCMA is the national institution responsible for the implementation of the national migration and asylum policies. In particular, the OCMA performs the following functions: development and implementation of the state policy on migration and asylum; maintenance of the population register and registration of residents in the accommodation centers; determination of the legal status of individuals in the country and naturalization; issuance of personal identification and travel documents. 
State Border Guard of the Republic of Latvia 

The State Border Guard Service (SBG) is established under the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia. The SBG is responsible for the enforcement of public safety in the fields of State border guard and, within the scope of competence, to manage irregular migration. In this framework, the SBG implements the procedures associated to the management of entry, residence, exit and transit of third country nationals and stateless persons, according to the provisions of the national legislation on migration and asylum.

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

 

UNHCR 

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM  IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

2021

  1 Field Support Officer
  10 Interpreters
  1 Location

N/A

Patveruma Mekletaju Izmitinasanas Centrs - Mucieniki
Jaunceltnes iela 2-8, Jaunceltnes-2, Ropažu novads, LV-2135, Latvia
Belgium
Alessandro Abate

Alessandro Abate

Coordinating Officer 

Office EUAA

 

The Operational Plan with Belgium was signed by the Executive Director of EASO, Nina Gregori, and the Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi on 16th  December 2021.

The Agency will work with the Belgian federal asylum agency, FEDASIL, to increase short and medium-term reception capacity while ensuring that reception standards are in line with the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
 
The EUAA operational support to Belgium  in 2022 will be based on two pillars:

  • First response to address emergency reception needs, notably by increasing the number of reception spaces available and improving the quality of existing emergency reception facilities.
  • Medium-term response to increase reception capacity, by conducting an evaluation for, and supporting the establishment of, a modular emergency reception centre, as well as the enhancement of arrival processes.

 
In the short term, EUAA will provide up to 150 reception units in the coming months in order to support an increase of Belgian reception capacity. This may be supplemented by additional units in the medium term, based on a further needs assessment in respect of the development of a modular emergency reception centre. 

Up to 100 EASO personnel may be deployed throughout the period, including Site Management Experts, Information Provision Experts, Social Workers, Trainers, Child Protection Experts, a Reception Center Designer and interpreters.

Main National Partners  
Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers 

Fedasil is responsible for the reception of applicants for international protection and other target groups and guarantees high-quality reception and conformity within the various reception structures. Fedasil coordinates the various voluntary return programmes. 

State Secretary for Asylum and Migration  Policy-making on asylum and reception, proposes measures to the Council of Ministers. 
Immigration Office Responsible for the registration and lodging of asylum applications, involved in the workflow of the arrival centre in Brussels. 
Fedasil partner organisations  Currently: Croix Rouge Belgique, Rode Kruis Vlaanderen, Samusocial [municipal emergency service providing assistance to homeless and asylum seekers], Mutualités socialistes [mutual insurance company], Caritas International, Le CIRE, private partners. Management of collective reception centres, contracted by Fedasil.

 

Main International Partners  
European Commission 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

UNHCR 

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM  IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 
Romania
Gabriel Stanescu

Gabriel Stanescu 

Coordinating Officer

Background

The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) signed an Operational Plan with the Romanian Ministry of Interior on 28th March 2022, thus setting the framework for the provision of technical and operational assistance by the EUAA to Romania until December 2022.

Romania is one of the main entry points for those seeking temporary protection following the war in Ukraine. In addition, the country has experienced an increase in the number of applications for international protection over the last three years, resulting in extraordinary pressure on its asylum and reception systems.

Prior to the establishment of the Plan, a rapid needs assessment was conducted by EUAA, focusing on needs of the asylum and reception systems in Romania, potential application of temporary protection concept, the scope of an EUAA intervention and definition of a potential intervention.

Operation

EUAA operational and technical support to Romania

The agreed areas of intervention and support are: support in implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive, reception support for applicants of international protection and support the implementation of voluntary transfers from Romania to other EU Member States of displaced persons falling under the Temporary Protection Directive. The responsible authorities and main national partner of the EUAA, are the General Inspectorate for Immigration (GII) through its Directorate for Asylum and Integration (DAI).

The EUAA foresees the deployment of up to 120 EUAA staff, experts, and interpreters as an immediate response to the needs identified, in locations such as Bucharest, Radauti, Somcuta Mare and Galati. Training activities are currently planned to be implemented in the short and medium term to deployed staff and experts. Further training needs at local and regional level will be assessed, with a view to provide support and coaching on registration procedures in the framework of the Temporary Protection Directive to staff deployed by GII.

The EUAA and the Romanian authorities have collaborated on updating the information related to temporary protection found on the official website of the General Inspectorate for Immigration. They have also conducted a quality assurance exercise of information related to temporary protection found on commonly used websites. 

The EUAA is also conducting a mapping exercise of the workflow related to registration of temporary protection at all locations supported by the Agency. This workflow description is in turn supporting the development of dedicated information provision material, including posters, at all locations supported by the Agency. 
 

Stakeholders

Main National Partners  
General Inspectorate for Immigration – Directorate for Asylum and Integration (IGI-DAI) -Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrari – Directia Azil si Integrare (IGI-DAI)

Access to procedure First instance determination Subsequent application Registration of Temporary Protection  and Management of complex cases (incl. court proceedings where applicable) 

General Inspectorate for Immigration (GII) Directorate for Migration – Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrari – Directia Migratie Legal migration Irregular stay & returns Registration of Temporary Protection
General Inspectorate for Border Police – Inspectoratul General pentru Politia de Frontiera Management of the borders First contact for Temporary Protection & asylum seekers
Department for Emergency Situations / General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations -  Departmentul de Stat pentru Situatii de Urgenta / Inspectoratul General pentru Situatii de Urgenta   Set-up and Management of emergency temporary camps for accommodation and humanitarian assistance. Coordination of support for Ukrainian nationals fleeing conflict
Main International Partners
European Commission 

The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, it develops and translates into policies and initiatives the EU strategy. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. It was established in 1958 and its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

UNHCR 

UNHCR the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to aid and protect the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It was founded in 1950 in response to the refugee crisis following World War II, and currently operates in 135 countries. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. In recognition of its work, UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

IOM  IOM the International Organization for Migration is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and received its current name in 1989. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the United Nations. As of March 2019, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and eight observer states. It is the only global migration agency dealing with all aspects of migration. 
 

Location

Past Operations

EASO's support to Bulgaria

EASO and Bulgaria signed on 17 October 2013 an Operating Plan which provided for EASO support to Bulgaria, until September 2014, in a number of areas, such as: identification and pre-registration of mixed migration flows; registration of asylum seekers and referral of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable persons to the appropriate asylum procedure; supporting the asylum decision process; providing Country of Origin Information; delivering core training in EASO Curriculum Modules for newly hired staff and; offering expertise on the absorption of emergency financial support to Bulgaria under EU Funds (SOLID Programme). Following a request made by the Bulgarian government in October 2014 for further support, EASO continued to support Bulgaria until June 2016. As outlined in the Special Support Plan, EASO currently focused on institutional capacity building, quality assurance mechanisms and responding to the special needs of vulnerable groups.

See the Press Release (OP), the Stock-taking report and the Press Release (SSP).

On 10 June 2016, an Amendment no 1 was brought to the Special Support Plan to Bulgaria, prolonging EASO support until 30 June 2017. Based on changed needs, the implementation of Measure BG 4: Support in the provision of procedural safeguards and improved reception conditions for children and unaccompanied minors, Measure BG 6: Support with capacity building in COI and EASO Measure BG 7: Support with developing practical training tools for interpreters in the asylum determination procedure were no longer foreseen. EASO and Bulgaria agreed to cooperate in new areas such as: practical application of quality tools in the asylum procedure, statistics and data analysis, contingency planning, professional development in 1st instance and judicial instance, training in the regulations of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Given the specific request of the State Agency for Refugees, EASO support to Bulgaria was further extended until 31 October 2017 (Amendment no 2)

On 27 October 2017, EASO and the Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees agreed on Amendment no. 3, which provides for an adjustment of needs in the scope of the support measures and the extension of the duration of the Plan until 31 October 2018.

More information is available here.

EASO's support to Luxembourg

Signing of the Operating Plan with LuxembourgOn 10 January 2012 EASO received a request for support from the Minister of Labour, Employment and Immigration of Luxembourg, Nicolas Schmit. Following this request, on 11 January 2012, the Executive Director of EASO pledged Asylum Support Teams to Luxembourg. On 26 January 2012 the operating plan on the Deployment of Asylum Support Teams to Luxembourg was signed. EASO Asylum Support Teams were deployed in Luxembourg from 30 January to 8 February 2012.

See the Press Release.

EASO's support to the Swedish Migration Board

EASO and the Swedish Migration Board (SMB) signed a Special Support Plan on 21 December 2012. The Special Support Plan was a result of indications in the EASO Early Warning and Preparedness. Support was rendered from December 2012 to February 2013. Support measures included training sessions by EASO experts.