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"

The Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union is pressing ahead with plans for the collective expulsion of refugees and asylum-seekers even though the the Council Decision has not yet been adopted. The proposal on "joint flights for removals" was agreed by the Council on 6 November 2003 but the European Parliament has not yet adopted its report on the question. Over 100 NGOs have called on the European Parliament to reject the proposal (see: EU: Appeal to European Parliament Against Humiliating Chartered Flights: Report)

The implementation of the Council plan was discussed at length at the Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Dublin on 22-23 January 2004 and the conclusions are set out in a Presidency Note to the Working Party on Migration and Expulsion (see text below). The Irish Presidency is proposing that "one or more joint flights as a pilot projects" should be planned.

European Commissioner, Mr Vittorino, told the Informal JHA meeting that:

"joint flights are key to rationalising resources at EU level and to giving effectiveness to the overall asylum system. He called on Member States to educate their citizens that joint flights have nothing to do with collective expulsion"

The meeting welcomed that fact that the Commission was proposing to set up a "30 million euro Framework Preparatory Action" to fund expulsions.

Currently Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Italy organise joint flights.

The meeting also "favourably received" the idea that the planned Border Management Agency should coordinate joint flights.

Council document, 6144/04, 10.2.04: Implementing Council Decision on the shared organisation of joint flights for removals (pdf)

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