Analyses

03 July 2024

Visa sanctions to increase deportations

Changes to the EU’s rules on visa issuance that came into force in 2020 have made it possible for sanctions to be introduced against states that fail to cooperate with deportations. For example, non-EU states that consistently fail to provide identity documents for their own nationals facing deportation from the EU can have visa fees increased, or the examination of applications slowed down. The tool appears to be popular with EU institutions and member states, and changes are on the way to “improve” its functioning. This analysis examines the mechanism itself, measures proposed or adopted under the mechanism, and recent proposals to develop and reform the system, and considers the way in which the idea of “solidarity” (between EU member states and EU bodies) is used as a weapon against third countries.

03 July 2024

A bottomless pit: billions more euros for externalised border controls

In view of the recently concluded mid-term review of the EU’s budget, funding for the externalisation of migration control has been at the top of the political agendas of EU member states and institutions. In the words of the European Commission and the European External Action Service, funding “ensure[s] that the actions undertaken… continue delivering results.” A substantial increase in the EU budget is on the cards, at the same time as a possible shift towards a supposedly new “preventive model” for external migration control.

06 June 2024

Automating the fortress: digital technologies and European borders

The fortification of Europe’s borders is inherently linked to the use of digital technologies. Indeed, the process would be unthinkable without them. From the biometric passports and automated gates used at border crossing points to the drones, sensor systems and detection technologies used to prevent and detect unauthorised migrants, digital technologies are crucial to a political project that seeks to give state authorities increased knowledge of – and thus control over – foreign nationals seeking to enter the EU. Vast quantities of public funding have been used to develop and deploy these technologies, and unless there is significant public and political opposition to the project, it is likely that the EU will provide far more money in the years to come. Given the harm caused by the ongoing reinforcement of Fortress Europe, and the myriad more beneficial ways in which those funds could be spent, that opposition is urgently needed.

22 May 2024

From Cutro to Pylos: what two shipwrecks reveal about Europe’s deadly migration policies

The anniversary of the shipwreck in Crotone on 26 February was marked by relatives and supporters of at least 94 people who died on the morning of that same day in 2023. They gathered on the beach in Cutro, in the city of Milan, and elsewhere in Italy: the names of the dead were read at public events, and survivors gave their testimonies.Three months later, it will also be the first anniversary of the Pylos shipwreck, in which at least 500 people lost their lives, and similar events will mark that anniversary. [1]

29 April 2024

The politics behind the EU-Mauritania migration partnership

On 7 March, the EU and Mauritania signed a landmark “migration deal.” This January note from the European Commission makes the case for the deal to EU member state representatives in the Council. Dated 26 January, and therefore preceding both the public announcement of the deal on 7 February and its signing one month later, the note offers insight into the politics behind the migration partnership deal between Mauritania and the EU.

29 April 2024

Charting a course through the labyrinth of externalisation

“Migration is a European challenge which requires a European response” has become a favoured refrain of EU officials and communiques. While the slogan is supposed to reinforce the need for a unified EU migration policy, it also masks the reality of the situation. The EU’s response to migration – in particular, irregular migration – is increasingly dependent on non-EU, and non-European states. Billions of euros and huge diplomatic efforts have been expended over the last three decades to rope non-EU states into this migration control agenda, and the process of externalisation is accelerating and expanding. Understanding the institutions and agencies involved is a crucial first step for anyone working for humane EU asylum and migration policies.

25 April 2024

Putting the cart before the horse: the Commission’s proposal to increase Europol's powers

Hounded by criticism from civil society and EU member states over its new proposal to increase the powers of Europol, the European Commission has belatedly published an “analytical document” in lieu of a formal impact assessment. The new proposal would lead to the storage of vast quantities of information by Europol on human smuggling and trafficking cases, intended to increase investigations and prosecutions. However, the Commission’s document offers a minimal analysis of the potential impact on individual rights, particularly of people in vulnerable situations, and the data protection safeguards at Europol are inadequate for the proposed changes.

22 March 2024

European money for the war in Gaza: how EU research funding supports the Israeli arms industry

Technologies developed with financial support from Europe are being used in the current war in Gaza, as they have been previously in occupation of Palestinian territory and marginalisation of the Palestinian people.

28 February 2024

The case of Civipol: commodified mobility policing in West Africa and its colonial continuities

Current European attempts to outsource migration control to West Africa mirror historical entanglements between colonial logics, corporate interests and policing. This article looks at the place of public-private relations in French colonialism in order to historically situate the activities of Civipol, a French public-private actor owned both by the French state and major security companies, that has specialized in building African states’ internal security capacity.

28 February 2024

Environmental activism under the EU counter-terror microscope

Next week, EU and member state officials will discuss “the role of climate change and environmental concerns in violent extremist and terrorist radicalisation.” A discussion paper for the meeting, obtained by Statewatch, considers the threat posed by “violent left-wing and anarchist extremism” – a heading under which a number of prominent environmental protest groups are mentioned. The inclusion of peaceful but disruptive groups in the paper may legitimate further police surveillance and infiltration, legal harassment and government crackdowns – a problem identified as “a major threat to human rights and democracy” by a UN Special Rapporteur.

27 February 2024

Border security with drones and databases

The EU’s borders are increasingly militarised, with hundreds of millions of euros paid to state agencies and military, security and IT companies for surveillance, patrols and apprehension and detention. This process has massive human cost, and politicians are planning to intensify it.

30 January 2024

Frontex and deportations, 2006-22

Data covering 17 years of Frontex’s deportation operations shows the expanding role of the agency. We have produced a series of visualisations to show the number of people deported in Frontex-coordinated operations, the member states involved, the destination states, and the costs.

08 January 2024

Germany: Fatal police shootings in 2022

For the year 2022, the official firearm usage statistics of the Conference of the Ministers of the Interior recorded a total of 54 shots fired at people. 11 individuals were killed as a result. This is three more than the previous year. Legally, these shots were classified as self-defense/emergency aid. 41 people were injured due to police firearm use.

23 November 2023

Digital rights and the protection of the right to asylum in the Charter of the European Union

The right to asylum, as delineated in Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) (‘the Charter’), does not grant the right to asylum to every individual seeking it. Instead, it articulates that everyone is entitled to have their application for international protection examined in line with international and EU law. This principle is reinforced by Article 19 of the Charter, which strictly prohibits collective expulsions and forbids the removal, expulsion or extradition of any person ‘to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.

19 September 2023

The new proposal on the security of EU information: a wider but incomplete legal framework for classified information

Part 3 of a series /// The proposal on security of EU information, as introduced, would create a legal framework for classified information with a number of gaps and loopholes that would prevent the European Parliament and the Court of Justice from exercising their roles as set out in the EU treaties. Changes are required to fix these problems.

12 September 2023

The proposal on security of EU information: how to burst the bubble and open the EU fortress

Part 2 of a series /// The Commission's proposal on security of EU information threatens to fatally undermine the rules on access to documents, which are essential for transparency, openness and public participation in democratic-decision making. The European Parliament and the Council need to take action to fix the proposal on security of information. At the same time, there are clear steps they could take to improve the access to documents rules, ensuring that legislative deliberations are as open and transparent as required by the treaties.

07 September 2023

The proposal on security of EU information: transforming the “bubble” into a “fortress”?

Part 1 of a series /// EU institutions are currently discussing a proposal for a new law "on information security in the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union." While the objective itself may be legitimate, the proposal as it stands seeks to extend to other EU institutions and agencies the secrecy and opacity that has for so long characterised the work of the Council. It undermines existing legislation on public access to official documents and would fatally undermine the treaty obligation for the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the EU "to conduct their work as openly as possible." At the same time, the proposal fails to ensure the interinstitutional and interagecy cooperation necessary to ensure an effective administration.

08 August 2023

Telling the story of EU border militarization: messages, principles and language

Addressing and preventing European border violence is a huge but necessary strategic challenge. This guide offers framing messages, guiding principles, and suggested language for people and organisations working on this challenge. It emerges from a process of discussion online and in-person between over a dozen organisations working in the European migrant justice space.

19 July 2023

International police data-sharing: what are the UK and EU cooking up?

For the last few years, British and European officials have been seeking ways to regain the ability to instantly share police data across borders – an ability that was lost after the UK left the EU at the end of 2020. The plan currently under development is to build a new data-sharing architecture encompassing the UK, the EU and other “international partners,” but substantive details of it are being kept under lock and key. The implications go beyond privacy and data protection, and raise questions about the potential uses of a new system to crack down on the right to protest, as well as the right to seek asylum.

13 June 2023

Externalisation of migration control: from the 1990s to the present

A talk given by Statewatch researcher Yasha Maccanico at the TransBorder Camp in Nantes, July 2022.

 

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