Think EU-MED

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Proposal for the establishment of European Asylum Support Office

On 18 February, the European Commission proposed a Regulation to establish a European Asylum Support Office (EASO) which could be running by 2010. The establishment of a new agency is in line with the Policy Plan on Asylum adopted by the Commission in June 2008 which proposed an extension of European legislation on asylum. The EU’s objectives are to build up administrative cooperation between the Member States and to abolish the differences in the national asylum policies.

With the increasing numbers of asylum seekers in Europe, the mayor tasks of the EASO will be to support Member States in their efforts to implement a more consistent and fairer asylum policy. The agency will support practical cooperation on asylum, assist Member States under particular pressure through possibly deploying asylum support teams and contribute to the implementation of the Common European Asylum System.

This regulatory agency will take the form of an independent European body without decision-making powers.
The Office's structure will consist of a management board, an executive director, an executive committee and a consultative forum. The management board will be composed of representatives of the Member States and the Commission. UNHCR will be present on the board, although without voting rights. NGO influence is only possible through the consultative body.

EU Press Release: Setting up of European Asylum Support Office proposed by the Commission

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Obama meets Al-Arabiya

On his first day in office, US President Barack Obama put an end to the controversial U.S foreign policy towards the Middle East during the Bush administration. Bush's "war against terrorism" should be replaced by a new diplomatic strategy of dialog and cooperation with the whole region including Syria and Iran.
The reactions in the Middle East were divided: some expressed pessimism about the capacity of the Obama administration to bring about real change in the region, others were optimistic that Barack Obama is able to devise a more balanced role in the region.

In Obama's first interview since taking office, the new president said that the U.S. are not the enemy of the Muslim world and that Israel and the Palestinians should resume peace negotiations. US President Obama offered to the Islamic world a "new partnership in mutual respect". In his "greater Middle East" strategy Obama will use credible and active diplomacy that employs "all instruments of US power".
The crucial question will be whether Obama will succeed in translating his words into direct actions for the benefit of the region.

The Middle East experts Amr Hamzawy and Marina Ottaway conclude in a publication of Carnegie Endowment:

"Obama’s election was a public diplomacy triumph for the United States, the first real success the United States has won in the Arab world in a long time, and probably the most important one since President Eisenhower backed Egypt’s efforts to regain control of the Suez Canal in 1956. Yet the success could prove short-lived: Arabs were reacting to concrete change, not to words, and are likely to revert to the old hostility unless Obama’s words are backed by concrete changes in U.S. Middle East policies."

Check out Obama's first interview with the Arab satellite station Al Arabiya: