EU
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
22.09.2015


UNHCR: 120,000 people the bloc is seeking to share equivalent to just 20 days' worth of arrivals at the current rate .(ekathimerini.com, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: COUNCIL DECISION establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (pdf):

The decision is for the resettlement of 120,000 people over two years from Greece and Italy> Hungary no longer part of mechanism. In the first year, 66,000 people from Italy and Greece will be resettled and Hungary will also have to take some of these asylum seekers (its 'quota' has been set at 1,294 people over the two years). The 54,000 people who were to be resettled from Hungary will theoretically be allocated to Greece and Italy in the second year.

Commission press release: European Commission Statement following the decision at the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council to relocate 120,000 refugees (pdf) contains little new detail on what was agreed. 120,000 people are to be relocated over 2 years.

JHA Council enforce migration plan by majority voting: Migrant crisis: EU ministers approve disputed quota plan (BBC News, link):

"EU interior ministers have approved a controversial plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent over the next two years. It will see migrants moved from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against accepting mandatory quotas. After the vote, Slovakia's prime minister said he would not accept the new quotas. Finland abstained from the vote. Poland, which had opposed the proposal, voted for it.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris said it was highly unusual for an issue like this - which involves national sovereignty - to be decided by majority vote rather than unanimous decision."

Comment: So far the EU has agreed to relocate 40,000 refugees who arrived on or after 15 August 2105 over a 1 year period and now 120,000 over 2 years. But the UNHCR says that : "477,906 people have arrived in Europe via sea so far this year" . The European Commission states that "Syrians, Eritreans, Iraqis" are to be prioritised - which leaves out the tens of thousands who have fled from Afghanistan. The Commission also states that: "Initial screening of asylum applicants [to be] carried out in Greece, Hungary and Italy" - where does this leave the tens of thousands of refugees who already passed through Greece and Italy since March this year?

EU backs refugee plan in teeth of east European opposition (euractiv, link): The European Union approved a plan on Tuesday (22 September) to share out 120,000 refugees across its 28 states, overriding vehement opposition from four ex-communist eastern nations... The Czech minister tweeted that he had voted against, along with colleagues from Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, with Finland abstaining" and EU governments push through divisive deal to share 120,000 refugees: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania vote against the decision to impose quotas, as lack of consensus threatens to feed resentment (Guardian, link) Of the 120,000: A little more than half are to be moved to the rest of the EU from Greece and Italy. The remaining 54,000, initially planned to relieve Hungary, whose government takes the hardest anti-immigration line in the EU and refuses to accept the help, will be reserved for other needy countries on the Balkan migratory route, such as Croatia and Slovenia. If the 54,000 are not resettled within 18 months, more refugees can be moved from Greece and Italy."

EU: Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council, Tuesday 22 September 2015, Brussels: Background Note (pdf) and Main Agenda (pdf): Only one item on relocation.

UN Secretary-General statement: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary- General on the situation facing refugees and migrants in Europe (pdf): "He calls on all European States to ensure that they abide by their international obligations, including the right to seek asylum, and the prohibition of refoulement. All persons must be received with dignity and their human rights must be respected. The Secretary-General has followed with increasing concern the closing of some borders in Europe, as well as the lack of proper reception facilities as well as the increased use of detention and criminalization of irregular migrants and asylum seekers."

UNHCR says EU must go beyond relocating 120,000 refugees (euractiv, link): "A European Union proposal to find spaces for 120,000 refugees will not work unless reception facilities are provided for tens of thousands at any time, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday (22 September)."

Visegrad countries trigger crisis ahead of EU refugee summit (euractiv, link): "Meeting in Prague on Monday (21 September) the so-called Visegrad group – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – have once again rejected plans to redistribute asylum-seekers under a quota system proposed by the European Commission."

EU refugee plan under fire as ministers try to break deadlock (ekathimerini.com, link)

"The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said the 120,000 people the bloc is seeking to share out were equivalent to just 20 days' worth of arrivals at the current rate.

“A relocation programme alone, at this stage in the crisis, will not be enough to stabilise the situation,” UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said, calling on the EU to set up reception facilities for tens of thousands of refugees at any one time.

Amid bitter recriminations between member states, EU leaders want to focus at an emergency summit on Wednesday on ramping up aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and the rest of the Middle East and tightening control on the bloc's frontiers."

Hungary approves new anti-migrant powers despite outcry (France 24, link): "Hungary on Monday gave the army drastic new powers to protect its borders, as the UN chief said he was “extremely concerned” about the treatment of migrants and refugees in overstretched Europe. On the eve of two key European Union meetings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to leaders across the 28-nation bloc, urging them to “show leadership and compassion” as the continent grapples with it worst migration crisis since World War II. “The secretary-general is extremely concerned about the deteriorating situation facing refugees and migrants arriving across Europe,” said a statement in which he expressed concern about European borders being closed, the lack of proper facilities to receive newcomers and the increased use of detention against them.

It also gave troops the right to use rubber bullets, tear gas and net guns at the border "in a non-lethal way, unless it cannot be avoided"." [emphasis added]

EU: Council of the European Union: Migration crisis : aspects of judicial cooperation and fight against xenophobia - Preparation of the Council meeting (Justice Ministers (LIMITE doc no:11898-15, pdf):

"Hotspots

Eurojust supports the frontline Member States by participating in the “Hotspots” and coordinates its efforts with relevant EU agencies. Currently, Eurojust participates in the Hotspots in Italy (Catania) and Greece (Piraeus) and its further participation in other Hotspots should be strengthened by helping prosecutors on the ground. In this framework, Eurojust should further support host Member States by providing for coordination with other Member States and by assisting, where appropriate, in the setting up of Joint Investigation Team (JIT)."

EU: Council of the European Union: Follow-up to the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015 on counter-terrorism: State of play on implementation of measures (LIMITE doc no: 12139-15, pdf):

"the new “Hot spot approach” developed along the Commission proposals, and especially the EU Regional Task Force in Catania allow Frontex and Europol officers to cooperate on the spot and to make the best possible use of screening and debriefing interviews of migrants."

News (22.9.15)

UNHCR: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (link)

All 120,000 migrant relocations from Italy, Greece (ANSA, link)

Number of refugees waiting at Lesvos' port increases again, food stops in reception (amna.gr, link): "The number of refugees crowding the port of Mytilene in Lesvos has risen dramatically again, as food delivery has stopped at the first reception center in Moria with refugees moving to the port to secure a meal, according to local authorities on Tuesday. "

Dispatches: A Make-or-Break Week for the Refugee Crisis (HRW, link): "Blocked borders, hand-washing governments, muddy camps, risky sea crossings, uncertainty, and fear. As decision-makers meet in Brussels in two high-level meetings this week to address the refugee crisis, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Will they finally decide to act in concert to tackle the situation, or as with last week’s meeting, agree to little more than patching Band-Aids over a gaping wound?"

Open Letter to the peoples of Europe, the European Union, EU Member-States and their representatives on the Justice and Home Affairs Council (link): "We, the undersigned international lawyers, gathered at the European Society of International Law 11th Annual Meeting in Oslo on 12th September 2015, and other international law scholars and experts, condemn the failure to offer protection to people seeking refuge in Europe, and the lack of respect for the human rights of those seeking refuge."

Counter-terrorism police ratcheted up violence at Röszke says photographer (Budapest Beacon, link) and What really happened at Röszke? (link)

EU governments must break the impasse (Green/EFA, link)

How will EU enforce its refugee relocation plan? (ft.blog, link): "The main one is pretty fundamental: how do you make sure a refugee stays in the country where he or she is sent when systematic border checks no longer exist? The proposals being debated this weekend, and seen by Brussels blog, touched on this. In short, member states have few tools to keep refugees in one country beyond cutting their benefits, making them repeatedly check-in with authorities and, well, asking them nicely not to leave."

All 120,000 migrant relocations from Italy, Greece - Ministers set to meet on quotas (ANSA, link): United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said Tuesday that the European Union's plans to redistribute asylum seekers among member States was not enough to address the current refugee crisis on its own. The agency added that Wednesday's meeting of EU leaders in Brussels could be the last opportunity to provide a "coherent response". It said that 477,906 people have arrived in Europe via sea so far this year, an average of 6,000 a day."

Eastern European leaders defy EU effort to set refugee quotas (Guardian, link): "Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Latvia reject efforts by Brussels to form common policy on just 66,000 migrants, calling it illegal... But the numbers are not the real issue. The row is about power and sovereignty. In the end it seems that all countries will join in sharing refugees, with the exception of Britain, which has opted out of the scheme. The other two countries with opt-outs – Ireland and Denmark – have agreed to take part, leaving the UK isolated." [emphasis added]

Theresa May maintains tough stance on 'economic migrants' (Guardian, link): "UK home secretary emphasises need for wider European measures to ‘return those people who have no right to be here’"

Eastern EU states want common stance on asylum (euobserver, link): "Ministers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland on Monday (21 September) said they want to reach "a common stance" with their counterparts on asylum. The four oppose a binding quota system to distribute some 120,000 migrants from Italy, Greece, and Hungary across European member states.But others like Germany are backing a compulsory system."

Frontex to get budget hike after refugee failures (euobserver, link): "Frontex, the EU's external border agency, is being given a 54 percent budget rise next year as part of a new European Commission package of initiatives to tackle the continent's refugee and migrant crisis."

UK-EU: Think leaving the EU would strengthen Britain’s borders? Take a closer look (Guardian, link) "Eurosceptics take note – Britain is far better placed to help solve the refugee crisis if it stays in Europe"

Refugees or migrants? The EU grapples with definitions (euractiv, link): "As EU leaders prepare to meet Wednesday (23 September) for an extraordinary summit, one question will haunt them: How to distinquish economic migrants from asylum seekers."

Hungary beefs up border with army, warns migrants to stay away (Reuters, link): "Hungary's parliament authorized the government on Monday to deploy the army to help handle a wave of migrants, granting the military the right to use non-lethal force. It passed a law saying the army could use rubber bullets, pyrotechnical devices, tear gas grenades or net guns, according to the text posted on parliament's website." and Hungary takes out ads to prevent more refugees from coming (New Europe, link): "Hungary is warning it will take “the strongest possible action” against those who try to enter the country illegally, according to a full-page ad posted by the government in Lebanese and Jordanian newspapers.The ad says that would-be refugees entering Hungary illegally will be imprisoned." and Hungary posts ads in Lebanon, Jordan media warning migrants (AP, link)

Deutsche Bahn suspends trains to Austria (The Local.at, link): "German rail operator Deutsche Bahn is suspending key services to Austria and Hungary until October 4th, citing border controls introduced to manage a record influx of refugees."

Resources stretched as 20,000 refugees arrive (The Local.at, link): "More than 20,000 refugees entered Austria aboard crowded buses and trains over the weekend, with the Red Cross warning of shortages as temporary accommodation is becoming overcrowded."

Support our work by making a one-off or regular donation to help us continue to monitor the state and civil liberties in Europe.
Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.

We welcome contributions to News Online and comments on this website. E-mail us, call +44 (0) 207 697 4266, or send post to PO Box 1516, London, N16 0EW.

Home | News Online | Journal | Observatories | Analyses | Database | SEMDOC | About Statewatch

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.