Staff at the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office have complained about harassment and a “culture of irresponsibility”, even claiming they are subjected to “psychological violence”.

The complaints on the state of the agency and the way it is being managed were made in e-mails employees circulated among colleagues. Just a few weeks ago, the management board instructed EASO director José Carreira not to make human resources and procurement-related issues before obtaining the chairman’s clearance in writing.

The Times of Malta reported earlier this year the agency was being investigated by the European anti-fraud office, Olaf, following allegations of irregularities, with the focus being Mr Carreira.

He is strongly denying accusations of misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in human resources management and possible breaches of data protection.

The EASO provides support to member states facing immigration problems, monitors the situation and offers training relating to the implementation of the common European asylum system. The agency has been sited in Malta since 2011 and is now focused on ‘hotspots’ in Italy and Greece.

Read: Auditors clear all EU agencies, except Malta-based one

Brussels-based newspaper Politico reported on Thursday that head of the human resources division, Emmanuel Maurage, let it be known via e-mail he was stepping down, saying “the rule of law” at the agency was absent and commenting that what happened at the EASO would not occur at any other EU institution.

Mr Carreira said the e-mails originated from “three employees and do not in any way constitute an objective or authoritative analysis of the state of affairs at the agency”.

“I have made every effort to work constructively with all my staff since taking up my post, in the best interest of EASO and, while I respect the divergent opinions of all my staff members, I am confident that the reflections contained therein do not reflect the sentiments of the large majority of EASO staff,” he said.

Mr Carreira insisted it was not right for the staff members to “have made their allegations” without taking the necessary steps to clarify them, especially considering that Olaf investigations were still in progress.

“The presumption of innocence of any staff member until proven otherwise is a fundamental tenet of the EU and is fully applied at EASO,” he said.

The agency's former head of operations and the second highest ranking staff member after Mr Carreira, Joanna Darmanin, was dismissed by last year and has since launched a case against the agency for unfair dismissal at the European Court of Justice.

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