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Note on the ‘Messina Model’ applied in the context of ad hoc relocation arrangements following disembarkation

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The ‘Messina model’ can be understood as the practical modus operandi that was developed, applied and tested in Messina, Sicily during the Seawatch 3 disembarkation / voluntary relocation in March 2019.

This model has subsequently been applied in several other disembarkations / voluntary relocations in / from Malta and Italy and has proved to be a robust but flexible mechanism. Three of these operations are still on-going (Ocean Viking in Malta and Open Arms and Eleanor in Italy).

Under this model, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) deploys an Asylum Support Team or teams to the requesting authority upon the Commissions’ request and provides the following support:

  • Information Provision access to procedure and on relocation.

  • Development and subsequent application of relocation matching criteria. The cascaded criteria applied include: i) application of the Dublin criteria and urgent vulnerable cases; ii) family links iii) cultural links; iv) subsequent fair and proportional allocation system among participating Member States.

  • Pre selection interviews with cultural mediation and preparation of proposed matching list for Commission for distribution to Member States.

  • Support for Member State selection missions – logistics, coordination and cultural mediation, support for cultural orientation sessions and general back office support.

  • Conducting of selection missions on behalf of certain Member States.

  • Support for remote selection missions where requested (virtual connection and remote interpretation).

  • Support for registration of applicants in Eurodac & host MS databases (e.g. Vestanet in Italy).

  • Support for coordination between Member States.

  • Support for UAMs and other vulnerable groups where requested in terms of vulnerability assessments and social work support.

  • Support for the respective Dublin Units in terms of take charge support, travel documentation support, relocation notifications and related information provision for relocation applicants.

The Messina model requires and foresees that the legal basis of the intervention should be article 17 of the Dublin Regulation.

It should be noted that the vast majority of persons do apply for international protection, which renders them eligible for relocation and triggers the applicability of article 17 of the Dublin Regulation. However, the assessment of the need for international protection takes place after relocation in the Member State of relocation and this is therefore not part of the process that EASO is involved in.