Statewatch Observatory
Archive 2003-2004: EU asylum and immigration policy


EU: Special Report: EU biometric visa policy unworkable

- insertion of chips would lead to "collisions" with visa chips from other countries
- ePassport chip would be "killed" by eVisa chip
- current deadline cannot be met, proposal unworkable

Vetoes, Opt-outs and EU Immigration and Asylum law - Statewatch briefing - revised 23 December

EU: At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council today (22.12.04) in Brussels the Council adopted a Decision on the transition to qualified majority voting and codecision procedure for certain areas covered by Title IV of Part Three of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The Decision will take effect as from 1 January 2005: Full-text of the decision (15226/04).

Green Paper from the European Commission on: An EU approach to managing economic migration (link)

UK: House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union: Government responses to its reports. (pdf) This includes 5th Report: Fighting Illegal Immigration: Should Carriers Carry the Burden? 6th Report: Future role of the European Court of Justice (pdf), 11th Report: Handling EU Asylum Claims: New Approaches Examined (pdf)

EU: Biometric passports: General Affairs Council adopted Regulation on mandatory facial images and fingerprints in EU passports at its meeting in Brussels on 13 December 2004: Full-text (pdf) After the Regulation is published in the Official Journal an "Article 6" Committee will be set up by the European Commission with representatives from 22 members states (excluding Ireland, the UK and Denmark). This committee will decide on the "details" such as how many fingerprints are to be taken, the equipment needed and the costs. After it has finished its work new (and replacement) passports issued will have to contain a "facial image" within 18 months, and fingerprints within three years. The UK government put on record its anger at being excluded from taking part in the adoption of the Regulation. Under the Protocol the UK can ask to "opt-in" but on this occasion the Schengen states stood firm as the UK has not signed up to border controls aspects of the acquis: See: "Unilateral United Kingdom Statement": 15918/04 ADD 1 (pdf)

UK: The appeal court in the House of Lords (the highest in the land) has ruled that the Home Office scheme started in July 2001 to put immigration officers in the Czech Republic to check all Roma people trying to board a flight to the UK was unlawful. The operation ended when the Czech Republic joined the EU in May 2004. One of the judges, Baroness Hale said that the "operation was inherently and systematically discrinatory and unlawful". Full-text of judgement (pdf) "Asylum operation racist, say law lords": Guardian (link)

JHA Council, 2 December 2004: Conclusions of "best practices" for voluntary or forced "return of refugees (agreed but not in press release)

EU governments blackmail European Parliament into quick adoption of its report on biometric passports

- the Council of the European Union (the 25 governments) has told the parliament it can have full powers of "co-decision" after it adopts its report on biometric passports - how many national parliaments were re-consulted after the decision to make fingerprinting mandatory? - the costs are completely unknown and the "details" will be decided in a secret committee - the EU has no legal powers to introduce such a Regulation

EU biometric passports and mandatory fingerprinting: Statewatch legal analysis questions the legality of the proposed Regulation - "no powers conferred upon the EC by the EC Treaty, taken separately or together, confer upon the EC the power to adopt the proposed Regulation"

EU governments demand that the European Parliament rushes through mandatory finger-printing and biometric passports Is an "urgent" decision justified? Why does the European Parliament not question the legal basis of the measure? Why does the parliament's draft report accept the need for biometric passports

EU Plan of Action on Combating Terrorism - Update (doc no 14330/04, 19.11.04). For previous version see Statewatch's Observatory in defence of freedom and democracy See also: Statewatch's "Scoreboard" finding that 27 out of 57 EU proposals have little or nothing to do with tackling terrorism – they deal with crime in general and surveillance: Statewatch Scoreboard (pdf) Statewatch Timetable of measures updated: 29 October 2004 (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 19 November 2004, Brussels: a: Council agrees "Amended Council Directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status" (pdf)

b. But Council puts off trying to agree a list of "safe countries of origin" in Africa until next year when it will be pushed through by "qualified majority voting" (QMV). A number of member states and the European Commission lodged strong objections to human rights records and democratic standards and even the country reports of those governments declaring countries "safe" were critical. The list, once agreed under QMV, will be binding on all 25 member states. The Decision to put off the vote: 14383/04 (pdf) See Statewatch's in-depth analysis: EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin"

1.
Press release (27 September 2004) 2. Statewatch Analysis: EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin" - the list should be scrapped (pdf)
3.
Appendix to this report with full details of all the EU member state responses (pdf) 4. Sources/documents, including member state responses

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Our analysis showed how initial decisions were made, with too little time, too little information, and no public debate. To determine the fate of people fleeing from poverty and persecution on the basis of such a shallow process is an insult to any sense of humanity or moral responsibility, let alone legal obligations. To put off the decision so that a majority of governments can impose the list on all combines immoral decision-making with cynical political manoeuvring"

EU: Commission 4th report on citizenship (COM 695, main report) Commission fourth report on citizenship (Annex, pdf)

Target of Blair deportation intervention gets substantial compensation (18.11.04) Original Statewatch Special Report: UK: Egyptian national “unlawfully detained” after intervention by Prime Minister (16.11.04)

Statewatch Special Report: UK: Egyptian national “unlawfully detained” after intervention by Prime Minister (16.11.04)

"We should use whatever assurances the Egyptians are willing to offer, to build a case to initiate the deportation procedure”, Tony Blair’s office. When the Egyptian government rejects Foreign Office request for written assurances - on the death penalty, ill-treatment, a fair and public hearing and legal representation , Tony Blair writes: "Why do we need all these things?"

Statewatch launches new searchable database With over 23,000 items it includes everything on the existing database including all news, features and sources from the Statewatch bulletin since 1991 PLUS all news, analyses and news in brief from Statewatch News Online - with all the links to documents (ie: pdf files) preserved. Bulletins will be added as they are published and News Online updated regularly. It has advanced search, data ranges, printer friendly pages PLUS a "Features Library" bringing together all the features on key subjects from the bulletin and analyses from News Online.

Vetoes, Opt-outs and EU Immigration and Asylum law - Statewatch briefing - revised 8 November (8.11.04)

The British media in particular have focussed on the extent to which the ‘Hague Programme’, the multi-annual programme for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) law and policy approved by the EU summit meeting (European Council) on 5 November 2004, will change the current system for vetoes and opt-outs from EU immigration and asylum law, particularly for the UK. The purpose of this briefing, by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex, is to outline:

a) the current extent of Member States’ national vetoes over EU immigration and asylum law;
b) the extent to which the UK (along with Ireland and Denmark) can ‘opt-out’ of EU immigration and asylum law;
c) the links between (a) and (b), especially for the UK, Ireland and Denmark;
d) the extent to which the ‘Hague Programme’ will affect the current position; and
e) the impact of the proposed EU Constitution on these issues.

An Annex to this briefing sets out the possible practical implications of the change in decision-making agreed as part of the Hague Programme for specific pieces of legislation.

EU: The "Hague Programme": (5.11.04)

1. Full-text: The "Hague Programme" on "freedom, security and justice" adopted at EU Summit in Brussels on 4-5 November 2004 (pdf)
2. Statewatch: Annotated text of the final "Hague Programme" (prepared by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex, pdf)
3. Statewatch: Timetable derived from the adopted Programme (pdf)

UK: Report from the parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee on the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Specification of Particularly Serious Crimes Order) 2004 (pdf) The Order made under s.72(4)(a) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 states that it applies for the purpose of the construction and application of Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention. Article 33(2) provides for exceptions to the principle that refugees cannot be returned to persecution (“the principle of non-refoulement”). The concern is that this would allow people convicted of serious offences to have their asylum claims dismissed unless they can prove they are "not a danger to the community". The Order specifies a wide range of offences for this purpose and the Committee is concerned that the Order as drafted is ultra vires the order-making power because it includes within its scope a number of offences which do not amount to “particularly serious crimes” within the meaning of Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention, properly interpreted. (3.11.04)

Draft report by rapporteur Jean Lambert MEP to the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights in the European Parliament on "access to durable solutions" (EU funded camps) (3.11.04)

EU: Today, 2 November, the General Affairs Council of the European Union (25 governments) is adopting Council Conclusions on a common readmission policy (pdf) and Council Conclusions on improving access to durable solutions (pdf) - this includes so-called "Regional Protection Programmes" and the issue of EU-funded external camps (both sets of Conclusions are related to the "Hague Programme")

EU: European Commission Staff Working Paper (SEC(2004) 1349, 25.10.2004). Annual report on the development of a common policy on illegal immigration, smuggling and trafficking of human beings, external borders, and the return of illegal residents (pdf) (1.11.04)

Update: :Justice and Home Affairs Council, Luxembourg, 25-26 October: Press release - full version (pdf). As predicted by Statewatch the Council overturned the 8 June decision and agreed that fingerprints as well as a facial image will be mandatory for EU passports: See for analysis and documentation: EU: Compulsory fingerprinting for all passports This change in the draft Regulation will mean that it will have to be re-submitted to the European Parliament. (26.10.04)

Vetoes, Opt-outs and EU Immigration and Asylum law - Statewatch briefing

British media are focussing on how the planned "Hague Programme" would change the current system for vetoes and opt-outs from EU immigration and asylum law, particularly for the UK. This briefing by Professor Steve Peers concludes that the UK does not have a "veto", it has an "opt-out" which is not the same
(25.10.04)

EU: Compulsory fingerprinting for all passports (24.10.04)

- EU to back demand by Italy, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, Malta, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia for mandatory fingerprinting
- only Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia oppose move
- UK and Germany want to have a third biometric - "iris scans" too in addition to facial scans and fingerprints
- EU Data Protection Commissioners are: "fundamentally" opposed to the creation of an EU-wide database

Update: Now includes Statewatch annotation of text (24.10.04) EU - "The Hague Programme" on justice and home affairs. Pogramme to be adopted on 5 November leaving no time for parliaments and civil society for react - Draft Programme and Timetable

Italy: Journalist sentenced for smuggling himself into reception centre

UK: Harm on Removal: Excessive Force against Failed Asylum Seekers - report by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (pdf) (13.10.04)

Europe: Jesuit Refugee Service Europe: Detention in Europe - Observation and Position Paper 2004 (pdf) (13.10.04)

Exclusive: Statewatch Analysis of secret documents shows: EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin"
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Our analysis provides an insight into how EU decisions are made, with too little time, too little information, and no public debate. To determine the fate of people fleeing from poverty and persecution on the basis of such a shallow process is an insult to any sense of humanity or moral responsibility, let alone legal obligations - the list should be scrapped."

1. Press release (27 September 2004)
2.
Statewatch Analysis: EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin" - the list should be scrapped (pdf)
3.
Appendix to this report with full details of all the EU member state responses (pdf)
4. Sources/documents, including member state responses

EU: Study on "The transfer of protection status in the EU, against the background of the common European asylum system and the goal of a uniform status, valid throughout the Union, for those granted asylum" for the European Commission: Full-text of study (pdf) (28.8.04)

EU: New Commissioner for "Justice, Freedom and Security" talks of the EU being "swamped" by immigration "time-bomb" (23.8.04)

A matter of fear or death by Emma Ginn & Harmit Athwal. David Blunkett has blamed campaigners for encouraging an Iraqi asylum seeker to sew up his lips: IRR News Service (20.8.04)

EU: European activist network publishes map of centres to detain foreigners (20.8.04)

17.8.04: EU: New Commissioner supports setting up external refugee detention centres: Report

8.8.04: UK: The controversial asylum law has come into effect: Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (link to Act)

7.8.04: Italy: Seven migrants escape from the detention centre in Bologna: Report

French NGOs press release on Cap Anamur asylum-seekers: Press release

EU: European Commission published first annual report on migration and integration: COM 508 (pdf)

EU: European Commission Communication on: A single asylum procedure (pdf) and a further SEC document containing Annexes to the Communication (pdf) and also Single aslyum procedure study (link, note pdf is 4MB)

EU: Council Conclusions on joint flights for removals: Report and documentation

EU: Statewatch analysis: "Dismantling refugee protection in the EU": Refugees and protection in the EU (pdf). The European Commission has developed the controversial UK plan to keep refugees outside the EU by giving so-called protection in the region and resettlement. There is no clear legal basis for scheme. It has been set out in a form that allows officials to simply proceed without any consultation of national or European parliaments. Full-text of Commission Communication (pdf) The analysis concludes:

"The EU has already exported its responsibility for countless refugees through the development of buffer-states and readmission agreements. By funding "protection in the region", border controls and "migration management" in developing countries it will export responsibility for countless more."

Background

1. EU buffer states and UNHCR "processing" centres and "safe havens"
2.
UK asylum plan for "safe havens": full text and reactions
3.
Asylum in the EU: the beginning of the end?
4.
Legal opinion on removing aylum-seekers from the EU
5. Report from the European Union Committee, House of Lords: "Handling EU asylum claims: new approaches examined":
Report with evidence, full-text (pdf)

27.6.04: Italy: Update: MSF accused of 'disloyalty' over CPT report: Report

10.6.04: Spain: Migrant lock-in evicted by police: Report

6.6.04: Statewatch analysis: Implementing the Amsterdam Treaty: Cementing Fortress Europe: Analysis Analysis as a: pdf file

The five year deadline for agreement on the common EU immigration and asylum policy expired on 1 May 2004. This article examines the key decisions, how they were taken and what they will mean for asylum-seekers

3.6.04: Italy: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) denied access to identification centres for asylum seekers: Report

EU: The Commission has put forward a Communication and draft Regulation on EU border controls - internal and external - which will "consolidate all existing laws including the Schengen "acquis" on this issue. It is intended to "compliment" the planned EU Border Management Agency. The proposal says that "people may cross borders at all times without being checked" except where member states invoke threats to public order, public health or internal security. It is based on Article 62 of the EC Treaty: Communication and proposed Council Regulation establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (pdf, 832 MB)

Europe: Detention in Europe - paper from the Jesuit Refugee Service (April 2004): Detention (pdf)

Netherlands: Ill treatment in a deportation prison - testimony of a former inmate: Report

EU: At the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 29 April a "general approach" was agreed on the proposed Council Directive on minimum standards on procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status" subject to national parliamentary scrutiny reservations from Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Due to the number of changes the European Parliament is to be re-consulted (which cannot take place until the new session in the autumn).

a) The full-text as agreed by the JHA Council (29.4.04): Minimum standards on procedures: 8771/04 (pdf)
b) Full-text at 27.4.04:
8415/1/04 REV 1 (pdf)
c) Full-text at 23.4.04:
8415/04 (pdf)

30.4.04: UK: Report from the European Union Committee, House of Lords: "Handling EU asylum claims: new approaches examined": Report with evidence, full-text (pdf)

27.4.04: EU: Amended proposed Directive on minimum standards on procedure for granting and withdrawing refugee status: Full-text (23.4.04, pdf) and draft "Minimum common list of safe countries of origin" Full-text (21.4.04, pdf). The countries named are: Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, Mali, Mauritius, Senegal, Uruguay in addition to Bulgaria and Romania - though there are suggestions that the list may be dropped as there is not agreement on it.

EU: Full-text of EC Directive on definition of a refugee and content of status, agreed by Justice and Home Affairs Council, 30 March 2004: Directive (pdf file)

29.3.04: EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, 30 March 2004 in Brussels: Background document (pdf). In "Brussels-speak" the "orientation debate" on minimum standards on procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status means there are still disagreements between the EU governments on its final form - see: Leading EU NGOs calls for the withdrawal of the Directive on minimum standards on prcoedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status: Letter (pdf)

24.2.04: Germany's refugee politics and its deadly consequences: 1993 to 2003: Anti Racist Initiative Berlin publishes its annual report documenting deaths and injuries of refugees, in more than 3,400 individual cases, that resulted directly and indirectly from Germany's refugee policy: Report

23.2.04: EU planning joint expulsion flights - even though decision not yet adopted. Commissioner Vittorino calls on member states "to educate their citizens that joint flights have nothing to do with collective expulsion": Report

11.2.04: EU: Asylum procedures package - latest proposals from the Irish Presidency:

Orientation debate on safe countries of origin (doc no: 5712/04) (pdf)
Minimum standards for people needing international protection (doc no: 5926/04) (pdf)
Orientation debate on appeals (doc no: 5970/04, 9.2.04) (pdf)
see also: Statewatch analysis: EU law on asylum procedures: An assault on human rights?
Analysis

6.2.04: Italy: Medici Senza Frontiere (MSF) publishes a damning report on conditions in Italy's detention centres for foreigners:
Report

3.2.04: Germany: Police on trial over death of Sudanese asylum-seeker: Report

23.1.04: UK to require biometric data for visas from five African countries: visa applicants and those with 1951 Convention travel documents to be fingerprinted before departure: Report

19.1.04: Spain: A land of asylum? article by Delia Blanco
president of the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR): Article

14.12.03: Belgium: Four Belgian police officers guilty over the death of Semira Adamu: Report

27.11.03: Ireland: Appeal for support of non-national parents and their Irish citizen children: Report and appeal

26.11.03: EU: Appeal to European Parliament Against Humiliating Chartered Flights: Report

24.11.03: New Statewatch analysis: Cover-up! Proposed Regulation on European Border Guard hides unaccountable, operational bodies: Analysis and documentation

UNHCR and Amnesty International criticise proposals on asylum procedures to be discussed at the meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on 27 November in Brussels: UNHCR calls for proposals to be withdrawn: UNHCR Aide Memoire UNHCR press release Text of letter to Berlusconi
Amnesty International:
EU Office backs UNHCR criticisms see also: Statewatch analysis: EU law on asylum procedures: An assault on human rights? Analysis

Spain: Immigrant minors to be interned and deported: Report

(updated 19 November 2003) Statewatch analysis: EU law on asylum procedures: An assault on human rights? Analysis

"The Council is nearing the deadline of December 2003 set by EU leaders for agreement on a proposed Directive on asylum procedures. This Directive, along with a parallel proposal on the definition of 'refugee' and subsidiary protection status, is at the heart of refugee law. However, there are disturbing developments in the final months of negotiations on the Directive. It appears that the Council is likely to agree a Directive which in many respects will fall below the minimum standards set by human rights law, with Member States not merely permitted and encouraged to lower their existing standards but in one area even required to lower those standards."

Finland: Outrage over three asylum seekers - two of them children - given forcible injections: Report

EU: Mass deportations by charter flight - enforcement and resistance: Report

Afghanistan: UNHCR imposing compulsory iris-scans on returning refugees over six years old: Report UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: "Article 16 (1) No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence"

Special: Italian Presidency proposes that officers in plainclothes drive unmarked police cars across the EU to deport migrants: "any possible legitimate "measure" [may be used] to prevent or terminate acts of resistance" and does the EU care more about cattle than people? Report and documentation

"Nothing is true, nor is it a lie?" by Nieves Garcia Benito. A powerful and moving essay on the indifference of Europe to dead migrants whose lives end on Spain's beaches (Special report): "Nothing is true, nor is it a lie?"

EU: Updated "Roadmap" on "illegal" immigration, external borders, relations with third countries following up Seville conclusions (6023/4/03), 5 May 2003: Roadmap

"Migration, development and the EU security agenda" paper by Ben Hayes & Tony Bunyan: Paper See also: The Seville Summit

Statewatch analysis: EU immigration and asylum discussions - Seville Summit

Statewatch Analysis: Proposal on family reunion by Steve Peers, Reader in Law, University of Essex

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