An interesting set of draft Council conclusions on convergence in asylum decision practices obtained by Statewatch sets out a roadmap towards greater consistency in asylum decision making. There is a lot of work to do on this front, as shown by IRIN in their excellent and infographic heavy piece Playing the EU asylum lottery. See these charts for examples of the spread across different EU countries for all asylum claims and Afghan asylum claims:
The first step agreed is use of common country of origin information, followed by common policy positions on key countries. One of the agreements is to the creation of:
a senior-level policy network, involving all Member States and coordinated by EASO, tasked with carrying out a joint assessment and joint interpretation of the situation in main countries of origin, based on common COI and in the light of the relevant provisions of the asylum acquis, in particular the Qualification Directive and the Asylum Procedures Directive, taking into account the content of EASO training material and EASO practical guides where appropriate
The senior level policy network will interpret these reports and deliver guidance notes to Member States for making “case-by-case assessments of applications for international protection.” The network will also propose “modifications to the terms of reference for future COI reports on countries of origin.” Afghanistan has been selected to pilot this new approach.
It sounds a lot like EASO is being commandeered by whoever is appointed to this “senior-level policy network.”
EASO is the European Asylum Support Office, headquartered in Malta. I confess that I had not noticed, but EASO has started to produce country of origin reports, including on Afghanistan, Somalia, sex trafficking in Nigeria and on some other countries. The one on Pakistan at first glance looks a LOT like the old comprehensive Home Office country of origin reports.
EASO is now being tasked with doing more country reports, so we can expect more of this in future. Another of the agreements is to create:
a more structured and streamlined EASO COI production process that covers all main countries of origin and thematic issues by strengthening the resources available for EASO COI production, including national resources made available within the framework of EASO’s COI Network Approach, and, if needed, additional budget for EASO through redeployment of financial resources, and by sharing national COI production plans, where available
The procurement pages on the EASO website do not reveal which other countries might be next. However, EASO is recruiting and anyone interested in working with EASO as a consultant expert might want to take a look at the call for expressions of interest, which appears to remain open.
Hat tip to Steve Peers for spotting this: