Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Asylum Support OfficeI haven't heard about this initiative, so let's have a short look at it.
In 2007, the Commission issued a "Green Paper on the future Common European Asylum System". Then, in April 2008, the Council requested a more specific initiative by the Commission in this matter. And now, on 18 February 2009, the Commission has finally proposed (full proposal: COM(2009) 66 final) the setting up of the European Asylum Support Office:
The Office will support Member States in their efforts to implement a more consistent and fairer asylum policy, for example by helping to identify good practices, organising training at European level and improving access to accurate information on countries of origin. It will also be responsible for coordinating support teams made up of national experts that will be deployed at the request of Member States faced with a mass influx of asylum seekers into their territory. It will also provide scientific and technical assistance for the development of asylum policy and legislation.The Office will be yet another agency, and is supposed to start work from 2010. Quite an optimistic timeframe, though, taking into account the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Over the first four years (2010-2013) it will cost 40 Million Euro, starting with about 5 Million in 2010 and reaching 15 Million in 2013.
Other concerned actors have already reacted: UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond expressed his organisation's approval of the initiative, which is not unimportant since the new agency will need to co-ordinate its work with the UNHCR.