The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has led to an increase in the use of digital tools in the asylum procedure. While the use of such technologies was imposed as an urgent need to limit human contact, these tools might be here to stay and thus pose a new reality to asylum. In recent years, different authorities have launched pilot projects or resorted to digital tools with the aim of expediting applications for international protection, managing a higher caseload of applications, and supporting the swift provision of certain services. Several European countries have thus confirmed their interest and willingness to further invest in new technological solutions.
This comparative report, compiled by ECRE, provides an overview of the use of digital tools and remote working methods in 23 European countries based on ECRE’s Asylum Information Database (AIDA), as well as other relevant publications from ECRE, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the European Migration Network (EMN) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It questions the risks and benefits of the use of digital tools in asylum processes and highlights several fundamental guarantees and procedural safeguards which must continue to apply to ensure that they do not infringe the existing CEAS framework.