European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for asylum and reception officials

logo EUAAThe European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), formerly EASO, is an agency of the European Union that was established to implement the Common European Asylum System. Since 2011, it has been supporting the member countries in carrying out consistent and transparent asylum procedures. In order to assist even more effectively and empower member states to  improve the quality of services provided by asylum and reception officers, the EUAA has developed the European qualifications framework for educational standards and the framework for professional standards in this field.




Common European Asylum System

Asylum is the care given to a foreigner by the state that owns the territory in which the foreigner finds himself. An asylum seeker can be called a person who has made an official request for asylum in another country because they fear that their life is in danger in their home country. Currently, third-country nationals must apply for protection in the first EU country they arrive in. Submission of the application is equivalent to their status as an asylum seeker. According to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ensuring the right to asylum is an international obligation for states that have ratified the 1951 Geneva Convention for the Protection of Refugees. In the EU, which is an area of open borders with free movement, member states have committed themselves to a common asylum policy. In 1999, the EU established a legislative framework - The Common European Asylum System (CEAS). In 2020, the European Commission proposed to reform this system through a comprehensive approach to migration and asylum policy.


Refugee crisis

The year 2015 is seen as the beginning of the migration crisis in Europe. The mass arrival of refugees and migrants on the continent in 2015-2016 is the largest such phenomenon since World War II. According to Eurostat, the European Union member states received more than 1.2 million asylum applications in 2015, more than double the number in 2014[1]. Germany, Hungary, Sweden and Austria are the countries that have received more than half of the asylum applications across the European Union. The main countries from which refugees came were Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq[1]. In 2016, the number of asylum applications fluctuated around 1.1 million. Although, as of 2017, there has been a decrease in the number of  applications submitted by half of previous years - it was approximately half a million per year[2]. However, the war in Ukraine in 2022 has a major impact on increasing these statistics.

The European Union Agency for Asylum

An important stage in the development of a common refugee policy was the establishment of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in 2011. Its main task was to provide practical cooperation between the EU member states in the field of the implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), and at the same time to support national institutions serving asylum seekers and refugees. EASO, and from 2019 The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), is an EU agency offering legal, technical and advisory support as well as operational support at the request of the member state concerned.  A number of member states struggling with complex refugee issues in recent years have benefited from the EUAA assistance, including Luxembourg or Sweden (2012); Bulgaria, Italy (2013); Cyprus (2014) and most recently Romania, whose national asylum system has come under increased pressure in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The EUAA assistance to Romania includes, i.a., the gradual deployment of its staff and interpreters in the requesting country, as well as provision of crucial training and support in registering applicants for temporary protection. The EUAA is currently providing operational support (among others: experts on refugee issues, interpreters) to nine member states in the wake of Russia's aggression against Ukraine[3].

It should be emphasized that the activities of the EUAA are supportive and advisory in nature, with national authorities overseeing the process of granting asylum or the reception of refugees, and taking full responsibility for their procedures and their implementation in this regard.

Why and how the European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for Asylum and  Reception Officials was created?

The ongoing refugee crisis, as well as the constant need to improve the quality of the work of reception and asylum officials for migrants in the member states, has been a challenge for the EUAA experts. It was clear to them that only properly standardized and effectively implemented procedures could provide refugees with the necessary protection. Moreover, the actions taken by officials in all the member states should be harmonized to the highest degree and should not differ from each other in terms of transparency, fairness, quality and efficiency.

With this goal in mind the EUAA has begun work on developing the ESQF - the European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for Asylum and  Reception Officials. Together with EU member states the EUAA identified all of the services provided by asylum and reception staff in each country. The tasks were sorted into related groups of competence areas for generic, specific and supervisory and management skills. For each group of competence areas the knowledge, abilities and responsibilities have been identified and the level of complexity has been determined.

ESQF - what can it be used for?

Structured compilation of occupational standards simplified the process of identification of the required learning outcomes necessary to carry out occupational tasks. The learning outcomes have been also classified into competence areas and levels, and then, more specifically, into knowledge, skills and responsibilities and autonomy. This grid of educational standards along with occupational standards formed European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for Asylum and Reception Officials - ESQF.

The European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for Asylum and  Reception Officials intended to be a reference for EUAA's training designed for asylum and reception officials, including tasks performed by those managing asylum processes and refugee admissions to member countries. With the help of the ESQF clearly defined and structured tasks are expected to prevent errors in training design. Based on the ESQF, the curricula will be designed to accurately reflect learners' job tasks. Moreover, the structure of the framework can be helpful in dividing tasks into modules and will enable the development of flexible curricula.

Both occupational and educational standards in the European Sectoral Qualifications Framework for asylum and reception officials are available on the EUAA website and have been translated into 21 European languages.


European Sectoral Qualifications Framework: Occupational Standards     European Sectoral Qualifications Framework: Educational Standards    



[1] Record number of over 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2015 (ENG) EUROSTAT

[2] First-time asylum applicants up by a quarter in 2021 (ENG), EUROSTAT