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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6-7.10.15


Secret EU plan to throw out thousands of migrants (The Times, link):

" Hundreds of thousands of failed asylum seekers will be deported from Europe within weeks under secret plans leaked to The Times. Brussels will threaten to withdraw aid, trade deals and visa arrangements if countries such as Niger and Eritrea refuse to take back their economic migrants. The proposals also envisage EU states detaining thousands of migrants to prevent them from absconding to avoid deportation.....

Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch, an EU civil liberties watchdog, said: “Refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The returns policy proposed is not going to work,” he said. “It cannot be seriously expected that Turkey would accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

See: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015

EU ministers to fast-track migrant deportation (euobserver, link):

"EU ministers are coming up with plans on how to best to use the deportation of failed asylum seekers as a deterrent for others. A leaked paper from the Council, representing EU member states, says some €800 million will be set aside on larger efforts to remove people without the proper paper work from the EU back to their home countries....

"The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws", said Statewatch director Tony Bunyan."

EU HOTSPOT" APPROACH UNDER ATTACK: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:EU migration policy will fail unless comprehensive and grounded in human rights – Zeid (link):

"He raised particular concerns about the nature of the ‘hotspot’ approach.

“These ‘hotspots’ seem to be conceived not simply as a means of registering new arrivals, but also as a way of preventing them from moving further until it is decided whether they are in need of international protection or should be returned,” the High Commissioner said. “While we welcome the efforts of the EU to offer support to the frontline Member States receiving large numbers of migrants, States must ensure that these ‘hotspots’ are not, in effect, detention centers in disguise.”

“Italy and Greece have both reduced the use of immigration detention. It is important to guard against a return to, or expansion of, a practice which is fraught with human rights concerns centred on the legality and conditions of detention,” he added. “I urge the EU and its individual Member States to avoid the ugly spectre of arbitrary or prolonged detention of people who are not criminals, and to ensure the adoption of human rights-based alternatives to detention.” "

EU-Africa: The 'Khartoum Process': beefing up borders in east Africa

The 'Khartoum Process' is intended to limit the number of people travelling to Europe via the "Horn of Africa migration route" and involves east African states, EU Member States, the European Commission and the African Union. Formally known as the 'EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative', it has been criticised by the human rights organisation AEDH as attempting "to arrange the material conditions to avoid that they [migrants and refugees] come to Europe, especially by establishing asylum processing centres" within African countries. The 'Process' foresees, amongst other things, the enhancement of law enforcement powers and border controls in east African states.

EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf): Note it is a "Draft":

"The Action Plan identifies a series of collaborative actions to be implemented as a matter of urgency by the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Turkey with he objective to assist Turkey in managing the situation of massive influx of refugees and preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU....

Prevent further arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey and irregular departures of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU...

Ensure prompt return to the point of origin of irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection and who were apprehended by the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States or Turkey and support the reintegration of returnees to the countries of origin....

Support Turkey to strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling, notably by reinforcing the Turkish Coast Guard patrolling and surveillance capacity...

The implementation of the Action Plan is set to start immediately; it will be jointly steered and monitored by the European Commission and the High Representative / Vice President and the Turkish government through the establishment of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogue on migration."

and Press release (pdf)

And see: "“The contents of this are not agreed,” said the Turkish official, who insisted the plan represented a European wishlist. “We see it differently from the EU. The EU is in a crisis and it wants things done very quickly. We don’t have the same urgency. And it’s basically money and nothing else that they are offering.” (Guardian, link)

European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration,asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: RETURNS POLICY: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015. Includes:

"The visa regime in Turkey was a source of concern for many delegations. Both Egypt and Algeria have introduced visa requirements for Syrian nationals. Turkey maintained visa-free travel, which has been identified as a source of concern. Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey." and

"The Council invites the Commission and the EEAS, and the Member States, in particular through their representations outside the EU, in close cooperation with the liaison officers mentioned in paragraph 9, to promote the EU laissez-passer (standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals) which should become the travel document commonly accepted for return purposes by third-countries. Moreover, Member States commit to using more regularly the EU laissez-passer in return operations." (Point 14, emphasis added])

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Commission and the Council have never understood that refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws.

This is compounded by the Council is relying on 1994 Recommendations as the legal basis for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

The returns policy proposed is not going to work. There are currently 17 readmission agreements in place and national lists of "safe countries of origin". Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either list of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously expected that Turkey - a transit country- would accept the return hundreds of thousands of refugees."

Currently 17 readmission agreements (link) are in force with the following countries: Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Pakistan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Cape Verde and the "safe countries of origin" list (pdf) to which people can be returned. Very few of the refugees who have arrived in the EU come from either lists of countries - with the exception of Turkey which has a readmission agreement and it cannot be seriously proposed to return refugees there - only Bulgaria has Turkey on its list of "sate countries of origin. The Council of the European Union is proposing that Turkey be included - the European Parliament is opposed to this move. To return refguees to many African countries the EU has to rely on the controversial Article 13 in the Cotonou Agreement which " commits all participating States to readmit their own nationals without further formalities."

European Parliament failure to bring proceedings against Hungary: "According to internal European Parliament emails seen by Playbook (Politico), the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, chaired by Claude Moraes from U.K. Labour, has rejected a request by the Liberal faction ALDE group supported by Greens, far-left parties and Italy’s Five Star Movement to trrigger an “Article 7.1 procedure” against Hungary for its behavior towards refugees. The move was blocked by the two big parties, who instead put to a vote a Socialist proposal to request that the Commission follow through on a June request that it “present a proposal to establish an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.”

News (7.10.15)

Europe will end if it's not united, Hollande warns (The Local.fr, link): "In an historic speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday French President Francois Hollande warned of the "end of Europe" if EU member states failed to remain united to tackle a number of crises...."I acknowledge that Europe was slow in understanding that tragedy in the Middle East or Africa could not but have consequences for Europe itself," he said." and EU refugee rules are 'obsolete': Merkel (The Local.de, link)

Denmark eyes series of immigration law changes (The Local.dk, link): "The government has released an overview of 182 law proposals it hopes to pass this session and a large number of them focus on foreigners in Denmark. "

GUE/NGL MEPs on Turkey: We need to help refugees, but not Erdogan (GUE, press release, link)

Migrant crisis: EU to begin seizing smugglers' boats (BBC News, link)

CCC campaigns to provide Internet access to refugees in Germany (EDRI, link): "German EDRi member Chaos Computer Club (CCC), along with free network associations Freifunk Berlin and the Förderverein freie Netzwerke, is running a fundraising campaign in support of the non-profit organisation Refugees Emancipation (RE). The project, initiated by asylum-seekers, aims to prevent the isolation and enhance the connectivity of refugees in Germany by enabling their access to the Internet. To do this, RE has established several self-organised Internet cafés and offers computer courses in refugee accommodations."

Hungarian Roma regularly prevented from boarding Canada-bound flights (cbbcnews, link): "Air Transat, CBSA wouldn't comment on specific cases but advocate suspects Canada wants to curb refugee claims"

My Escape From Syria: Europe or Die (VICE, link) with video: "Syria's brutal civil war has created hundreds of thousands of refugees, civilians who have been forced to leave everything behind at home and travel in search of a new life in Europe. Ismail, 25, filmed his journey to Germany with 19-year-old Naeem, capturing the most dangerous parts of a perilous trip, including the boat crossing from Turkey to Greece where hundreds of refugees have died this year. In this exclusive footage, VICE News gives an insight into a desperate trek, as Ismail and Naeem give first-hand accounts of their journey, the life they left behind, and their hopes for the future."

IOM figures 6 October (link): "Mediterranean arrivals now stands at 557,899 – virtually double 2014’s full-year total of 219,000 migrants... 421,341 to Greece."

Refugee ‘hotspots’ to be operational within 15 days, EC says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece’s refugee “hotspot” centers will be operational within the next fifteen days, the European Commission has said. During comments made Wednesday, the EU executive’s deputy chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva also said that Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had spoken on the telephone with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann who called for additional staff and experts to assist the bloc's border agency Frontex." and First migrant hot-spots in Greece to be ready in two weeks, EU Commission's Andreeva says (amna.gr, link)

EU to crack down on people refused asylum (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union countries are set to agree a crackdown on migrants refused entry into the bloc and move to swiftly send them home. More than 500,000 people have arrived this year seeking sanctuary or jobs, sparking the EUs biggest refugee emergency in decades. But some 40 percent of people who fail to obtain asylum or residency in the 28-nation EU over the past several years have been sent home. EU interior ministers will agree on Thursday that “all measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return”

Roberta Metsola: EU leaders must show more responsibility in dealing with refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)

Majority of German people want border control (New Europe, link)

Romania Withdraws Bid to Join Schengen Area (Balkan Insight, link): "Romania has abandoned hope of being invited to join the passport-free Schengen zone on Thursday, as it became clear that Bulgarian and Romanian admission is on hold"

EU starts military operation against ‘mafia of the sea’ (euractiv, link): "A military operation to catch migrant traffickers begins today (7 October), with European warships patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean to arrest smugglers dubbed the "mafia of the sea". The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced last month that EUNAVFOR MED, an operation launched to dismantle the network of smugglers abetting the migrant boat crisis, was to enter its second phase."

Commission details offer to Turkey to tackle refugee crisis (euractiv, link): "The EU has offered Turkey a plan under which it would resettle more refugees, but only if Ankara establishes new camps and boosts its coastguard to slow the flow of people to Europe, officials said on Tuesday (6 October)."

EU wants ‘stepped up’ action on migrants - New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey.(Politico, link): "New plan promises greater resettlement effort on asylum seekers in Turkey."

German anti-immigrant protests revive — and radicalize - “Lying” media targeted in weekly protests centered on Dresden (Politico, link)

News (6.10.15)

The CJEU’s Ruling in Celaj: Criminal penalties, entry bans and the Returns Directive (EU Law Analysis, link)

President Erdogan shames EU with Turkish stance on Syrian refugee crisis - Mr Erdogan wants to solve the refugee crisis by training the Syrian opposition, declaring a safe zone along the border in northern Syria, and creating a no-fly zone (Independent, link)

How the EU migration crisis will transform border security (defenceiq.com, link): " “I have never seen anything like this in my 40 years of border management,” says Tony Smith CBE, Former Director of the UK Border Force and now CEO at Fortinus Global. He is talking about the wave of migration hitting European soil as millions continue to flee war-torn Syria and North Africa in an exclusive interview"

Erdogan tells EU: Act in Syria, or get ready to accept more refugees (euractiv, link): ""The root cause of the refugee crisis today is the war in Syria," Erdogan told reporters following a series of meetings in Brussels with top EU officials. He called on the EU to do more to train rebels, set up a protected zone inside northern Syria, and enforce a no-fly zone to Assad's aerial attacks on civilians. The European Union, meanwhile, said Turkey must do more to stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have landed on its shores in the worst such crisis since World War II."

Turkey warns 3 mln more refugees may be headed to EU from Syria (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey has warned the European Union that 3 million more refugees could flee fighting in Syria as the EU struggles to manage its biggest migration emergency in decades. Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities."

EU seeks to contain migration flows, relocation program set for launch (ekathimerini.com, link): "According to sources, an estimated 600 staff will be posted across Greece’s “hotspots.” Operating under the Poseidon umbrella, these centers will help register and fingerprint new arrivals and start the process of relocating Syrians and others likely to be granted refugee status in other EU states. Meanwhile, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, called for 374 additional experts to be deployed in Greece and Italy to support asylum procedures in the two countries."

Tricky talks with Erdogan in Brussels (DW, link): "The EU is turning to Turkey for help with the refugee crisis. The political price is likely to be high, though, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the opportunity for his own ends. Barbara Wesel reports."

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