The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), one of the EU’s essential tools in asylum management, was up for scrutiny again in the European Parliament. During a second attempt to grant discharge on the way the institution has spent its budget in 2017, S&D MEPs have decided to abstain on the vote.
OLAF investigation and the European Court of Auditors’ audits have revealed serious irregularities for 2017, consisting in managerial misconduct, harassment, favoritism, irregularities in recruitment procedures, breaches of procurement rules and of financial regulations and data protection rules.
These serious wrongdoings by EASO management and the insufficient evidence for substantial improvements by the office in 2018 were the reason for the S&D Group to support postponement of granting discharge to EASO in March 2019.
On 4 September a hearing of the new Executive Director of EASO Ms. Nina Gregori was held in camera by members of the committee on budgetary control.
The strong commitment of the new EASO Executive Director and the information presented for positive developments and improvement in the EASO management and functioning were recognized by all political groups.
S&D members acknowledge the fact that the current management of EASO has taken significant steps in improving the institution’s financial irregularities and reputation, and have expressed their support for the new leadership to continue strengthening and further improving EASO governance and functioning.
“EASO is of crucial importance for the S&D Group, as managing asylum and migration and avoiding human tragedy is a hard task to say the least. Regrettably, financial and operational irregularities have distracted from EASO’s mission in the past. We are pleased to see the progress made by the office’s new management, and we are confident that in the near future we will be able to give a positive discharge opinion,” explained Lara Wolters, S&D Group negotiator on the EASO discharge.
“While we need to call out the financial irregularities that EASO has faced in 2017, we also need to recognize that the office is now on a new path, with real steps being taken to improve its management operations. Ms Gregori, EASO’s new Executive Director, was able to build an accountable and transparent management structure and restored credibility and trust. Under the new management and with the corrective measures taken, I believe we are on the right path for EASO to become the fully-fledged EU Asylum Agency we need. Attacks on EASO from politically motivated right wing groups are a hindrance to the important work that needs to be done to deliver a fully-functioning common European asylum system,” said Claude Moraes MEP, S&D vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental rights.