Developed by the European Commission from 2007 to 2011, the COI Portal was transferred to EASO in 2012. The EASO founding Regulation foresees that EASO will "manage, further develop and maintain a portal for gathering information on countries of origin" (Article 4).
Initially, the COI Portal was designed to provide a common and restricted access point to COI for EU+ states (EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland)’ asylum administrations, but also to offer additional resources, particularly for Member States with less elaborate or non-existent COI systems. Via automated connections to national COI systems (currently Finland, France, Ireland, Norway, Sweden) and manual storage of COI for those countries not connected, the COI Portal was built to provide access to national products and third-party documents in various languages.
In 2014, following requests from various stakeholders, and in cooperation with EU+ states, EASO began redesigning the COI Portal. The aim was to increase COI transparency for all actors in the asylum process, to keep pace with technical standards and to re-focus the platform as a specialist application for COI produced by EU+, EASO, and EU Institutions.
To achieve this, EASO developed a more user-friendly and up-to-date interface and improved the search capabilities. It also focused its platform on COI authored by the COI services of national asylum administrations and on COI produced by EASO and other EU institutions or agencies. COI originating from other organisations (non-governmental or international, research institutes, etc.) is not provided since such information can be easily accessed via other complementary platforms such as ecoi.net or Refworld. EASO also opened a public section on its new platform for non-registered users.
The new Portal, renamed the EASO COI Portal, was launched in early 2016. Currently, in its initial version (BETA), it will continue to evolve to better serve the needs of asylum practitioners
The EASO COI Portal today
The EASO COI Portal is a gateway to Country of Origin Information (COI) produced by EU+ states and EASO in the context of asylum procedures. It also provides selected COI authored by EU institutions, such as the European Parliament and the External Action Service (EEAS). COI produced by other organisations (non-governmental organisations, international organisations, research institutes, etc.) is not collected in the Portal since such information can be easily accessed via other complementary platforms such as ecoi.net or Refworld.
It provides carefully selected information on countries of origin to assist asylum practitioners (COI researchers, caseworkers, decisions and policy makers, lawyers, legal aid providers and judges). It allows users to be updated on COI events and publications and on COI workshops or conferences organised by EASO.
The EASO COI Portal offers a search engine that operates across all languages and non-roman alphabets.
Its advanced search function enables users to refine a query by:
- Country of origin
- Publication date
- Document type(s)
Various filters allow users to easily refine or broaden their list of results.
Users have the possibility to conduct searches which are not country specific (in such a case, "country of origin" will not be selected).
The news section informs users about recent publications or upcoming EASO workshops/conferences relevant to COI.
Maintenance and development
The COI Portal is developed and maintained by EASO in cooperation with the national asylum authorities of EU+ states. All COI products provided by EU+ countries, EASO or EU institutions are carefully selected according to European COI standards as enshrined in the EASO COI Report Methodology (such as, for example, neutrality and transparency). For the purpose of the COI Portal, additional criteria apply such as relevance to the asylum field and publication date (documents not older than 10 years, with some exceptions).
National asylum authorities are responsible for selecting the national COI products delivered to the COI Portal on the basis of the standards listed above.
In national asylum authorities, the "National COI Portal Administrator" (NCPA) is the focal point between national asylum services and EASO. EASO is responsible for checking all documents against European COI standards. EASO selects information provided in the news according to its relevance to the COI and asylum fields.