FAQ

EASO is an agency of the European Union set up by Regulation (EU) 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The agency:

  • acts as a centre of expertise on asylum;
  • contributes to the development of the Common European Asylum System by facilitating, coordinating and strengthening practical cooperation among Member States on the many aspects of asylum;
  • helps Member States fulfil their European and international obligations to give protection to people in need;
  • provides practical and technical support to Member States and the European Commission;
  • provides operational support to Member States with specific needs and to Member States whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure;
  • provides evidence-based input for EU policymaking and legislation in all areas having a direct or indirect impact on asylum.

For more information about EASO visit : http://easo.europa.eu

Country of Origin Information (COI) refers to information on countries from which applicants for international protection originate. COI is essential during the asylum determination process as it assists asylum officials in assessing and substantiating claims for international protection at all stages of the procedure.

COI assists asylum practitioners in answering questions about:

  • Culture, religion, nationality, ethnicity
  • Human rights and security situations
  • Political, societal and legal situations
  • Humanitarian, economic and geographical conditions
  • Specific events taking place in countries of origin.

In the field of COI, EASO “shall organise, promote and coordinate activities relating to information on countries of origin” (EASO Founding Regulation, article 4).

EASO aims to contribute to the harmonisation of COI practices and products, to raise quality standards, and to strengthen information-sharing and COI cooperation among all Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland (hereafter “EU+ countries" or "EU+ ").

According to the May 2015 European Agenda on Migration, “EASO will step up practical cooperation, developing a role as the clearing house of national Country of Origin Information”; in other words, EASO is to become a point of reference in providing centralised COI.

EASO:

  • establishes and manages COI Specialist Networks based on EU+ information needs. The COI networks are composed of national COI researchers specialised on a specific country or region of origin. The networks aim to exchange information, harmonise practices and contribute to drafting or reviewing joint EASO COI reports. Currently, the following networks are active:
    • Afghanistan
    • Eritrea
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Pakistan
    • Russia
    • Somalia
    • Syria
    • Ukraine
  • organises bi-annual COI Strategic Network (composed of heads of services or persons responsible for COI in EU+ asylum authorities) meetings;
  • facilitates and coordinates the joint production of COI reports on main countries of origin at EU level;
  • develops methodologies and guidance, such as the EASO COI Report Methodology, and COI practical guides;
  • organises COI workshops/conferences on specific countries or topics;
  • coordinates the drafting and ensures the quality of responses to COI queries;
  • assists EU+ states in COI capacity-building.

COI Products include: COI reports (country or topical reports; fact-finding mission reports), factsheets, responses to specific queries, chronologies, lists of sources, power-point presentations delivered during workshops/conferences, conference reports or proceedings. Guides/manuals on COI research methodologies, tools or quality are also considered as COI products.

  • COI products (co-)authored by EU+ national COI services[1]; this may include COI products jointly produced by national COI services and civil society;
  • EASO COI products;
  • Selected COI products authored by external experts invited by EASO in the framework of EASO workshops or conferences;
  • Selected COI products produced by EU institutions (for example, the European External Action Service. See FAQ 10).

[1] This includes COI units independent from the national authorities, but mandated by national authorities to deliver COI.

  • All COI products provided by EU+ states, 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 Common 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.

Information available in the COI Portal comes from:

  • EU+ national COI services: All national COI services can provide documents according to well-defined criteria (see FAQ 7). If you are looking for COI from a specific EU+ country, just insert the name of that country from the document source drop down list and all relevant COI produced there will be displayed. 
  • EASO
  • Selected EU institutions (European External Action Service/EEAS, European Commission, etc.See FAQ 10-11).

COI published by EU+ countries may not be available on the web or may be scattered in various public portals. COI produced by EU institutions is often less well-known to those working in the field of asylum as this type of information is not always easily found on EU websites. Yet documents published by these bodies are often useful for COI researchers and case workers and contribute to the diversity of sources essential to a balanced COI product. As an agency of the European Union, EASO considers it essential to raise awareness on this type of COI and to contribute to its dissemination by providing a single point of access. COI from NGOs, the UN and other organisations is not collected in the COI Portal since such information can be easily accessed via other complementary platforms such as ecoi.net or Refworld. (See FAQ 12)

The following EU institutions have been identified as COI providers:

  • EU External Action Service (EEAS)
  • The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
  • The European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO)
  • The European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development

In the future, more EU institutions may be added to EASO’s list of EU Institutions providing COI.

The EU External Action Service (EEAS), for example, publishes reports following election-observation missions in several countries. The European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) produces factsheets on countries where it is operational or on which it works. The European Commission publishes country progress reports for candidate countries, in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

COI authored by non-governmental organisations, international organisations, research institutes, etc. is not collected in the COI Portal since such information can be easily accessed via other complementary platforms such as ecoi.net or Refworld.

However, some COI services in EU+ states produce joint reports with civil society. These products are available on the COI Portal.

Also, COI products authored by external experts invited by EASO in the framework of EASO workshops or conferences may be made available here.

An internal user is an employee of a national asylum authority or any body mandated by the national government to carry out COI research. This person must either be:

  • a member of the national COI unit;
  • a member of an EASO COI Specialist Network (e.g. Somalia Network);
  • a COI researcher, in those cases where a dedicated COI unit does not exist in a national asylum administration.

Each national asylum administration is responsible for granting this type of access to a COI specialist as defined above.