European Asylum Support Office EASO

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. It has its headquarters in Valetta (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 common training for the national authorities, and it coordinates the exchange of country-of-origin information among Member States. Another important task is support for Member States subject to particular pressures, e.g. from a high number of asylum applications. EASO may temporarily dispatch Asylum Support Teams to the States concerned. These teams provide technical and operational support to the authorities. For example, they may support the reorganisation of a particular area or train staff in making their procedures more efficient. Since 2015, such teams have intervened in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria. EASO has also been present since end-2015 in the various hotspots that have developed in Greece and Italy, where it supports the relevant national authorities.

As EASO is not part of the Schengen and Dublin Agreements, Switzerland is not obliged to participate in it. However, the Federal Council has spoken in favour of participating 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 will allow 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 the migrants in need of protection. In concrete terms, for example, Switzerland will be able to continue its existing cooperation in country-of-origin information. Also, by participating in EASO, Switzerland can officially send experts to join the missions established and participate in the various activities organised by the European office (meetings of the management board, themed 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 analyzed.


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