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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
17-3.16
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
EU-TURKEY: Welcome to the new Fortress Europe: Draft Summit Statement:
EU-Turkey Statement 18/3/2016: Draft 16/03/16 (pdf)

"Turkey furthermore agreed to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back
all irregular migrants intercepted in Turkish waters... All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands will be returned to Turkey...

Comment: The EU to end so-called "irregular migration" (by refugees and migrants) and deny sanctuary to those fleeing from war, persecution and poverty.

Migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum
Procedures Directive. Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey.... The costs will be covered by the EU....

The Members of the European Council welcome the Commission's intention to propose an amendment to the relocation decision of 22 September 2015 to allow for any resettlement commitment undertaken in the framework of this arrangement to be offset from non-allocated places under the decision. Should the number of returned exceed the numbers provided for by these arrangements, this mechanism will be subject to review."

Comment: The scheme for "relocation" in the EU has abjectly failed - to the shame of nearly all EU Member States..

The Members of the European Council welcome Turkey's commitment that migrants returned to Turkey will be protected in accordance with the international Standards concerning the treatment of refugees and respecting the principle of non-refoulement."
[emphasis added]

Comment: How is this going to be monitored and enforced?

European Parliament: MEPs propose a centralised EU system for asylum claims with national quotas (Press release, pdf):

"The failure to date of the EU asylum system to cope with ever-rising numbers of migrant arrivals calls for a radical overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They propose establishing a central system for collecting and allocating asylum applications. The scheme, which could include a quota for each EU member state, would work on the basis of “hotspots” from which refugees would be distributed."

Draft report: On the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf)

Statewatch comment: Before adopting the "hotspots" approach the EP might be wise find out how they work, are refugees rights respected (ie: do they have the autimatic right to legal advice?), what is the effect of "natilonality screenng" and "profiling" for a start?

Council of Europe: Factsheet: Collective expulsions of aliens (pdf): "Article 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens) of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights: “Collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited”. “Collective expulsion” = any measure compelling aliens, as a group, to leave a country, except where such a measure is taken on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular case of each individual alien of the group."

EU: Council President Tusk: Tripartite Social Summit - Wednesday 16 March 2016 (Press release, pdf)

"In his opening statement, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, stressed the need to agree on well-adjusted measures and emphasised that : "I have no doubt that the successful integration of refugees into our labour markets is in our best interest. It is the only way to enable the newcomers to stand on their own feet. And it is the only way to turn the current wave of migration into an economic opportunity. But the integration of refugees must not be done on the back of the most vulnerable individuals of our own societies: the poor, the unemployed, the disadvantaged. Questions like "why do refugees get so much support from the government, while it seems to have given up on me?" are legitimate. We must not provide any breeding ground for such questions to arise. And this is where I very much count on the social partners. Their role in maintaining social cohesion in Europe is key".

German migration expert lambasts Europe for 'war against refugees' (DW, link):

"Europe is at "war" against refugees and Chancellor Angela Merkel is using "double-faced" rhetoric of welcome and repulsion, said German migration expert Klaus Bade. He called the EU's overtures to Turkey "scandalous....

In an exasperated commentary in "MiGAZIN," an online portal specializing in migration, Bade has accused Berlin of placating the public with security policy instead of working harder through "massive investments" to tackle the world's root causes of refugee flight, which have been evident for decades.

The so-called Balkan route, closed with "razor-sharp" wire across southern Europe, has become the EU's new "red line." A process that began in 2006, when Spain ran Operation Seahorse to stop migrants from Senegal, Mauritania and Cape Verde from reaching its Canary Islands, had only become more "gruesome," he said."

Returning migrants to Turkey poses huge administrative test (FT Blog, link):

"Europe’s return plan violates Greek law. To address this, Greece must overhaul its asylum laws in a matter of days to enshrine Turkey as a “safe third country” to receive asylum seekers.

The next step is harder: clearing the backlog. There are around 8,000 migrants on Greek islands, such as Lesbos and Chios. Officials say they ideally need to be moved before the so-called “X Day” — as early as Friday — when the returns policy officially begins.

Yet Greek facilities are strained. Shelter is lacking on the mainland, where almost 40,000 migrants are already stranded. Mixing the groups — those who are trapped in Greece, awaiting relocation to Europe, and those who will be sent straight back to Turkey — could get ugly. "

Auditors slam EU migration response as ‘incoherent’ (euractiv, link): "The European Court of Auditors has published a damning report on the EU’s migration policy, condemning it as incoherent and lacking in strategy, just as Union leaders prepare to agree on a controversial deal with Turkey on Friday"

See: Special Report No 9/2016 (pdf): "We conclude our report by recommending that the Commission develop clear and measurable objectives to be implemented by a coherent set of EU funding instruments supported by effective monitoring and evaluation, and by an appropriate information system. Governance arrangements must be simpler and better coordinated."

HUNGARY: Draft amendments to asylum law in Hungary will drive refugees to Western Europe (migszol, link):

"On Monday 7th March 2016 the Interior Ministry proposed amendments to the migration- and asylum law in Hungary. The legislation is available in Hungarian here; unfortunately no official English translation has been issued yet.

The amendments address various migration-related questions. This not only covers asylum legislation, but also residence permits and 3rd country nationals who come to Hungary to work for companies identified by the Hungarian government as “strategic economic partners” such as IBM, Tata, GE and Huawei. This move suggests that the Fidesz government does not actually have a problem with migrants, but rather only with a specific type of migrants: those who are fleeing persecution, conflicts and poverty fuelled by European policies. With these changes, the Hungarian government legalizes the discrimination of vulnerable groups and the favouritism of the rich groups institutionalizing inequalities within the population."

ECJ: The Dublin III Regulation allows Member States to send an applicant for international protection to a safe third country, irrespective of whether it is the Member State responsible for processing the application or another Member State (ECJ press release, pdf)

News (17.3.16)

GREECE-MACEDONIA: Some facts to get the events of Monday the 14th of March straight, when around 2000 refugees marched to Macedonia/FYROM from Idomeni camp, Greece (Live Ticker Idomeni, link): "We denounce the media’s total lack of consideration for the chronology of the events as well as their erroneous reporting. Furthermore, we condemn the allegedly distributed flyer for being fear-mongering and misleading."

NETHERLANDS: Rising Islamophobia reported in the Netherlands (New Europe, link): "A third of the mosques in the Netherlands have experienced at least one incident of vandalism, threatening letters, attempted arson, the placement of a pig’s head, or other aggressive actions in the past 10 years, according to research by Ineke van der Valk, an author and researcher at the University of Amsterdam."

Turkey catches 54 migrants heading for Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey's coast guard says 54 Afghan migrants were intercepted in the Aegean Sea as their dinghy sped toward the Greek island of Lesvos, and were returned to Turkey"

Tusk cautious on chances of Turkey migration deal (ekathimerini.com, link):"The European Union's summit chairman said on Thursday he was “more cautious than optimistic” about the chances of reaching a deal with Turkey this week to halt an influx of migrants that has caused a divisive backlash in Europe."

Leaders make second attempt to hammer out Turkey refugee deal (euractiv, link): "European Union leaders begin a difficult summit today (17 March) to push for a crucial agreement with Turkey to curb the continent’s massive migration crisis despite threats by Cyprus to sink the deal."

Leaders make second attempt to hammer out Turkey refugee deal (eurctiv, link): European Union leaders begin a difficult summit today (17 March) to push for a crucial agreement with Turkey to curb the continent’s massive migration crisis despite threats by Cyprus to sink the deal." and Timmermans: Failure on EU-Turkey deal will turn Greece into refugee camp (euractiv, link): Comment: Talk about scare-mongering - this is happening because the rest of the EU have created this siutation.

Turkey makes a mockery of Europes claim to uphold democratic values (EPC, link)

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