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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
12.6.17
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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: Migration: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

The EU and its Member States are working towards the implementation of the European Commission's "renewed Action Plan" on European returns policy, published in March this year. At the latest meeting of the Commission-hosted 'Contact Group - Return Directive', which brings together EU and national officials, "Member States expressed general support in relation to the policy line and specific recommendations," but also highlighted that "on some specific recommendation, [sic] there may be divergences of views among Member States and with the Commission, and that some may be difficult to apply in practice for technical or political reasons."

EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee position on recast Eurodac Regulation

New rules governing the EU's Eurodac biometric database are one step closer to being adopted following the approval by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of its position on the recast Regulation.

The recast Regulation will extend the scope of the database from holding the fingerprints of asylum-seekers to the inclusion of biometric data on irregular migrants. Facial images are also to be included in preparation for the future use of facial recognition systems.

EU-ITALY-LIBYA: Back to Old Tricks? Italian Responsibility for Returning People to Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link) by Jean-Pierre Gauci:

"On 10/11 May 2017 various news outlets reported a maritime operation by the Libyan authorities, in coordination with the Italian Search and Rescue Authority, in which 500 individuals were intercepted in international waters and returned to Libya. This operation amounted to refoulment in breach of customary international law and several treaties (including the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights), and an internationally wrongful act is one for which Italy bears international legal responsibility."

1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Libyan Coast; Two Dead (Reliefweb, link):

"Two migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday during a rescue operation that saved more than 1,000 others who were attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe, according to a Spanish aid group.

Laura Lanuza, spokeswoman for Spain's Proactiva Open Arms, said that while two migrants perished in international waters off the Libyan coast, the Spanish aid group and five other humanitarian organizations saved 1,058 migrants after intercepting several smugglers' boats.

Lanuza said that in addition to the two deaths, another two migrants were in critical condition.

The Golfo Azzurro, Proactiva Open Arms' converted fishing trawler, pulled 243 migrants from two smugglers' boats. That group included one baby, a pregnant woman and several children.

The other boats that participated in the massive rescue operation belonged to Save the Children, Sea Watch, Moas, Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet Iuventa."

Ten migrants die, 100 missing off Libya (ENCA, link):

"GARABULLI - At least ten migrants have died after their Europe-bound boats sank off Libya's coast and some 100 people are missing, coastguard officials and aid groups said on Saturday.

Eight bodies were found on an inflatable craft that can carry up to 120 passengers, said Colonel Fathi al-Rayani, head of the coastguard in Garabulli, 60 kilometres east of Tripoli.

He estimated that "at least 100" migrants were missing.

(...)

Libyan navy spokesman General Ayoub Qassem meanwhile told AFP that coastguards patrolling off Zawiya, west of Tripoli, on Friday intercepted five inflatables and two wooden boats with more than 570 migrants on board.

He said the boats were being escorted by five Libyans on a jet ski and two outboards, and that three of the men were apprehended.

"The migrants are Africans, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Moroccans... and were delivered to the detention centre in Zawiya," Qassem said."

EU: European travel information and authorisation system - Council agrees negotiating position (press release, pdf):

"On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council's position for negotiations with the European Parliament.

ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. It will help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, limit public health risks and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders."

See: General approaches on the draft regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS) (9763/17, 1 June 2017, pdf) and on the draft regulation amending regulation 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing ETIAS (9763/17 ADD 1, 1 June 2017, pdf)

And see: Estonia heads EU interior ministers meeting for the 1st time (The Baltic Times, link): ""The foundation of the security of the European Union is solidarity and helping each other in a difficult situation. The key to success can lie only in cooperation, not in encapsulating," Anvelt said, adding that it's important for the member states that the problem is dealt with together. What is especially important for Estonia is that progress was made on several topics having to do with databases – such as the ETIAS travel authorization system, renewal of the Schengen information system and developing interaction between databases more broadly."

Anti-EU rhetoric props up Czech election race (EUobserver, link):

"The Czech government's decision on Monday (5 June) to stop taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy is the latest sign of the development of an anti-EU stance in the country, with the elections approaching in October.

Interior minister Milan Chovanec said that pulling out of the EU relocation scheme was justified by an "aggravated security situation and the dysfunctionality of the whole system".

This new stance could largely be due to the upcoming elections in October of this year, as only 23 percent of Czechs think that the country should help refugees, according to a survey from March 2017.

After the elections, the Czech Republic may edge closer to Hungary and Poland, whose governments are very vocal in their criticism of Brussels."

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