In order to harmonise protection and reception standards across the EU, a series of minimum standards were established between 1999 and 2004 for the principal aspects of the asylum process. This is the so-called asylum package, which consists of the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations, the Directives on Asylum Procedures, Qualification and Reception Conditions, and the Temporary Protection Directive.
A step further was taken in a second phase, between 2009 and 2013, when member states no longer aimed to achieve minimum standards, but to establish common rules.
In May 2015, the European Commission launched a global approach (Agenda on Migration) to improve migration management. This agenda includes a package of policy measures regarding asylum, including new legislative proposals, about which no agreement has however been reached yet.
On the basis of its technical expertise, the CGRS contributes to the negotiations about new legislative tools, mainly in the Asylum Working Group of the Council of the European Union. This concerns in particular a revision of the Qualification and Asylum Procedures Directives and of the Regulation establishing the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
In the meantime, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union have developed, mainly through preliminary rulings, an authoritative body of case law that is also contributing to harmonisation.
The CGRS closely follows European case law and provides relevant input whenever Belgium acts as an intervening party.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) was set up in 2010 in order to coordinate more efficiently all practical cooperation activities between EU member states. With headquarters in Malta, this European agency helps member States put EU legislation into practice, offers support to member states under significant asylum-related pressure and reinforces the operational cooperation between national asylum bodies. Since its inception, EASO has grown considerably and has played an increasing role towards harmonisation and cooperation between member states. EASO has developed a series of important instruments, such as common training modules, joint COI reports, reliable and up-to-date statistics on asylum, common tools and policy guidelines. On a more concrete level, EASO also organized several support missions in EU member states, mainly those with an external border (Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus…) and plays a significant role in so-called hotspots in Greece and Italy, but also in Malta and Cyprus, where it is currently assisting the domestic asylum authorities with the registration and further processing of applications for international protection.
The CGRS is an important partner of EASO. Dirk Van den Bulck, who is Belgium’s representative at EASO’s Board of Directors, promotes practical cooperation as a spearhead of his European policy. The CGRS is closely involved in the development of a whole series of EASO products, in particular relating to COI, training of staff and quality. Several experts from the CGRS have taken part in support missions, primarily in hotspots in Greece.
The AMIF is a European fund created with a view of improving the management of migration flows and reinforcing a common policy in the matter of protection and migration. For the period 2014-2020, the AMIF has made 89 million euros available to the EU member states. This budget is intended to facilitate the implementation of the asylum acquis by member states and to improve the exchange of information and best practices between them.
The CGRS makes grateful use of this fund, first of all in order to be able to contribute actively to EASO and to initiatives towards a further harmonisation at EU level. Examples of projects: a project to improve the assistance provided to groups with special procedural needs (children, …), projects regarding COI and the use of new media…
The CGRS also uses AMIF funds to guarantee a high-performance asylum system, e.g. training courses for its own staff and for interpreters, coaching and leadership paths, digitisation of the asylum process…
The European Migration Network (EMN) provides up-to-date, objective, and reliable information from Belgium and the EU on asylum and migration in order to support policy making in the EU.
The EMN is a network coordinated by the European Commission and comprising national contact points in every EU member state. The Belgian EMN Contact Point consists of a representative of the CGRS, the Immigration Office (with a coordinating role), Fedasil and Myria (the Federal Migration centre).
The CGRS also ensures a follow-up of the broader international asylum and migration context and is active in other international forums, such as the General Directors' Immigration Services Conference (GDISC) and the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC).
The CGRS also closely collaborates with the UN refugee agency, mainly to carry out its resettlement policy, but also on other issues regarding international protection.
The CGRS would also contribute to improving the protection of refugees in their region of origin, for instance by participating in capacity building projects, whether in collaboration with EASO or not.