The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is an important part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). EASO’s purpose is to facilitate the harmonisation of asylum systems within the EU and strengthen cooperation among Member States. EASO became operational on 19 June 2011 and is based in Malta.
EASO helps its Member States to pursue a more just and consistent asylum policy. For instance, it helps States to determine and share best practices in the asylum procedure, it organises joint training courses for national authorities, and it coordinates the exchange of country-of-origin information among Member States.
EASO also supports Member States when their asylum systems are subject to serious pressure. In order to do this, it sends support teams to the States concerned. These teams provide technical and operational support to the authorities, for example, by encouraging the reorganisation of an area of activity or by training local staff.
Since 2015, support teams have intervened in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Malta. EASO has also been present since the end of 2015 in the various hotspots that have developed in Greece and Italy, where it supports the national authorities.
As EASO is not part of the Schengen and Dublin systems, Switzerland is not obliged to participate in it. However, the Federal Council approved Swiss involvement in EASO and passed the agreement between Switzerland and the EU on EASO participation on 26 March 2014. This agreement came into effect on 1 March 2016.
EASO participation allows Switzerland to prove its solidarity and contribute to a more effective and fairer asylum system in Europe. It may also help to reinforce the Dublin System. This is in the interests of not only Switzerland and the other Dublin States, but also of the migrants in need of protection.
In specific terms, Switzerland has access to a large volume of information, and benefits from the expertise of other Member States, sharing its own information with them. In addition, participating in EASO allows Switzerland to take part in missions organised by the Office and various other activities (board meetings, workshops, conferences, etc.).
On 4 May 2016, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation to transform EASO into a European Union asylum agency (EUAA) with extended competences. The transformation of EASO into EUAA is not a Schengen / Dublin development that Switzerland should automatically adopt. The modalities of a possible participation of Switzerland in the new agency are currently being analysed. Uncertainty currently surrounds the adoption of this proposal. Everything depends on discussions on the reform of the asylum system at European level, which will take place soon.
Last modification 23.04.2021