20 June 2011
There is currently an estimated 43 million refugees around the world. Today, on World Refugee Day, EU Commissioners Cecilia Malmström and Kristalina Georgieva underline that "offering asylum to those in need is an obligation", and request greater efforts from all EU Member States to agree on a Common European Asylum System during next year.
"All of the EU's Member States are signatories of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. The events in North Africa have confirmed the importance of a comprehensive and coherent European asylum system, based on solidarity and shared responsibility", say the Commissioners, and continue: "We hope that the European Council will send a clear signal this week, and call for an effective, fair and protective Common European Asylum System". Read their joint statement in full.
Yesterday the new European Asylum Support Office, EASO, was formally inaugurated in Valletta, Malta. They will provide assistance to the EU Member States, not least in their efforts to implement well-functioning asylum policies nationally, but also by helping to identify best practices, by organising training, and by helping EU States that find themselves under particular pressures. One of the main priorities of the Support Office in 2011 is to coordinate the provision of support to Greece in implementing its National Action Plan on Asylum Reform and Migration Management.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström took part in the inauguration ceremony together with, among others, the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, and EASO Executive Director Robert Visser. Read Cecilia Malmström's speech, read more on EASO in the press release and the memo, and watch a film from the ceremony itself.