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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
5.7.17
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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: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy

The European Commission has published an Action Plan containing a swathe of measures "to support Italy, reduce pressure along the Central Mediterranean Route and increase solidarity," in order to try to address the "structural challenge" represented by the "loss of life and continuing migratory flows of primarily economic migrants on the Central Mediterranean route."

This includes a proposal for Italy and the Commission to draw up a code of conduct for NGOs conducting search and rescue missions, and demands for Italy to massively increase the capacity of its hotspots and its detention centres as well as extending the maximum period of detention up to 18 months, the maximum allowed under EU law.

EU: Frontex in the Balkans: Serbian government rejects EU's criminal immunity proposals

The Serbian government is not happy with EU proposals that Frontex teams would be able to operate on its territory with total immunity from Serbian law. After two rounds of talks between the EU and Serbia, the text of a proposed agreement that would govern Frontex teams' joint operations, "rapid border interventions" or return operations in the Western Balkan country shows that the Serbian side rejects the EU's proposal that "members of the team shall enjoy immunity" from the administrative, civil and criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia.

EU: EASO: Vast majority of migrants arriving in Italy not eligible for relocation (EurActiv, link):

"Quoting from a recent monthly statistic, Celis said that Nigerians were indeed the number one nationality applying for international protection currently in Italy, with more than 20%, followed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who were “the top three for the moment”. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are not considered eligible for relocation either.

Celis said that in 2016, of all Nigerians applying for asylum in the EU, 55% applied in Italy. The second country where applications were lodged was Germany. However Germany, in the vast majority of cases, is not the country of first arrival on EU territory.

The EASOs’ Ward Lutin explained that it was not correct to say that the nationals of a certain country were ineligible for asylum, as some certainly were, and this is why an individual assessment was needed. He also said that unlike the past, the vast majority of arriving migrants were applying for asylum."

See: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met (Statewatch News Online, 18 May 2017)

And: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2016 (5.7MB, pdf)

Poland: EU Should Tackle Unsafe Returns to Belarus (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(London) The European Commission should take enforcement action to address Poland’s summary returns of asylum seekers to Belarus, three leading rights groups have said today. Amnesty International, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch highlight how Poland is in breach of human rights law, refugee law, European Union law and orders by the European Court of Human Rights.

“The Polish government is forcing asylum-seekers back to unsafe Belarus in defiance of its duties as an EU member state,” Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch said. “It’s time for the European Commission to step in and address this serious breach of EU asylum law.”

Since 2016, Polish authorities have been blocking entry to most asylum seekers at Brest-Terespol border crossing from Belarus by train, forcing them to return to Belarus the same day. Belarus lacks a functioning asylum system, and there are real risks that asylum seekers from Chechnya or central Asian countries could be returned to their countries of origin putting them at risk of torture or ill-treatment."

See also: Poland pushes back thousands of refugees, many fleeing crackdown in Tajikistan (Statewatch News Online, August 2016) and: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (February 2017)

IRELAND: Right to work for asylum-seekers: Supreme Court judgment and Irish Refugee Council position

Following a judgment by the Supreme Court of Ireland calling on the government to consider giving asylum-seekers permission to work (there is currently a total prohibition regardless of how long an individual have been within the asylum system), the Irish Refugee Council has called on the government to give asylum-seekers the right to work after they have been within the asylum procedure for six months or longer.

EU and 'Eastern Partnership' countries discuss return, readmission and reintegration

The EU and the countries of the 'Eastern Partnership' (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) met in Yerevan, Armenia in late June to discuss "recent trends, developments and challenges in return, readmission and reintegration of migrants as well as to share national practices, experiences and lessons learnt."

EU: Rule of law: double standards undermine EU's role in the neighbourhood (CEPS European Neighbourhood Watch, pdf) by Toby Vogel:

"Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty defines the European Union as a community of values and then goes on to list them: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are supposed to inform all EU policies, including enlargement and foreign and security policy, which crucially depend on the strength of the EU’s ‘soft power’. But what happens to the EU and its power to persuade and lead by example when it fails to safeguard its values at home?

Several events in recent months illustrate what happens when the EU loses sight of its commitment to democracy and the rule of law."

GREECE: Waiting in Patras. Next stop: Italy (Athens Live, link):

"48 hours after I have travelled to Patras over the weekend, Greek police entered an abandoned factory in the port city in western Greece. In a unannounced operation, they started forcibly removing 70 refugees and migrants of the 170 who lived there. They were the ones without proper documentation.

I visited the abandoned wood factory while no one suspected such eviction would take place.

Under the scorching heat, the residents moved their tents to the roof so they can avoid the temperatures that reach over 45 degrees Celsius in the industrial hangar.Tired and exhausted, they continued their effort, unaware of what was to come."

Austria plays down spat with Italy over border controls (Reuters, link)

"Austria on Wednesday played down a dispute with Italy over possible controls at their shared border, saying Rome had misunderstood its intentions when it spelled out military preparations for any future influx of migrants.

Rome reacted furiously on Tuesday to Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil's comment that he expected controls at the border with Italy to be introduced "very soon".

His remarks were part of a report in Austria's top-selling tabloid, confirmed by an official in his ministry, that 750 troops were ready to be deployed and four armored vehicles had been sent to the province that includes the Brenner Pass, a gateway for Italy to important trading partners such as Germany."

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants (ODI, link):

"Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants within their host communities is an increasingly important task. This working paper is intended as a primer – outlining current global polling data on public attitudes, and analysing what the literature has to say about the drivers influencing these attitudes.

This large evidence base has a number of implications for those working on refugee and migration issues:

- Engaging effectively with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants requires understanding the real world concerns, emotions and values around which attitudes are formed.
- These efforts work best when clearly rooted in national and local contexts, and the nuances of public attitudes within them.
- Traditional approaches to public engagement, such as ‘myth-busting’, may have exacerbated negativity and are unlikely to resonate beyond those who are already supportive. While evidence remains important in influencing policy debates, strategies must acknowledge its limitations as a persuasive tool.
- Emotive and value-driven arguments may have more traction than facts and evidence. Successful strategies might highlight the manageability of the situation, while emphasising shared values.
"

See: Working Paper (pdf)

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