Operation Sophia, the EU’s military mission targeting migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean, has a “deterrence effect” that “by its presence alone, enhances security in the Mediterranean,” according to an internal report by the Italian naval officer in charge of the deployment. Yet as people continue crossing the central Mediterranean, and increasing numbers of them die whilst trying to do so, the only reasonable question to be asked is: what deterrent effect?
A European Commission proposal to expand the Eurodac biometric database has provided the perfect opportunity for national interior ministries to demand that police forces be able to obtain asylum-seekers’ and irregular migrants’ data more easily, despite the fact that half of all Member States do “not yet have experience with law enforcement access” to the system, according to an official document obtained by Statewatch.
The EU is actively cooperating with authoritarian regimes to control international movement while ignoring the disastrous human rights records of these regimes.
I have picked up a sheet of paper on which I had written, in one go, a series of notes which I had not even re-read yet, until today. Less than a year ago, it had been put away without even knowing what to o with them, after a round of consultations with friends who are legal experts and lawyers. Who should I give it to? With what evidence could I support those words? There wasn’t any way to use them, even though each of them had the weight of a boulder.
These written submissions are presented on behalf of Statewatch, hereinafter “the Intervener”, pursuant to the grant of permission of the President of the First Section of the Court notified in a letter dated 6 July 2016 and addressed to Statewatch by the Section Registrar.
Earlier this month, the European Parliament and Council finally agreed to outlaw the export, brokering and promotion of torture and execution equipment from Europe. Such equipment includes guillotines, hanging ropes, lethal injection drugs, multi-barbed steel ‘sting sticks’, electroshock batons and tools familiar to torturers of old: leg irons and wall cuffs to hang prisoners from walls and ceilings, thumbscrews, neck chains and other medieval paraphernalia.
The EU has a long-standing ambition to create an “area of freedom, security and justice”, as set out in Article 67 of the Lisbon Treaty. A more recent counterpart to this ideal is the plan to create a “true internal market for security”, in which companies will be able to sell security technologies, products and services to customers in any EU Member State without being hampered by differing regulatory or technical standards. The first formal announcement of this new policy came in 2012, when the European Commission published the Security Industrial Policy (SIP), with the “overarching aim” to “enhance growth and increase employment in the EU's security industry.”
On 26 May 2015 the EU Ombudsman opened an Inquiry into “the transparency of trilogues”. On 12 July 2016 the Ombudsman reached a decision and made proposals to the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. On the face of it the proposals look like an advance in the openness of trilogues - but are they?
The practices adopted by the French police over the last few months, and especially between the end of April and 18 May , shocked the majority of peaceful demonstrators, causing many of them harm and injuries. On 17 May, the police staged demonstrations to protest against ‘violence against cops’ [violence anti-flics] and on 18 May the trade union stewards’ service badly beat up some so-called casseurs [term used to describe hooligans, vandals or troublemakers]. Testimonies and debates surrounding these events have been plentiful (you can see such reports by Médiapart, a few television programmes and even in “Le Monde” and “Libération”). However, a more in-depth reflection on what happened is missing, as is a comparative perspective with similar facts which have been observed over a longer period in other countries that claim to be democratic.
There have been a number of EU proposals to deal with the perceived ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe over the last year. The latest batch, issued this week, are perhaps the most significant to date. They concern three related issues: visas (notably a short-term Schengen visa waiver for Turkish nationals); Schengen (partly suspending the open borders rules for six months); and asylum (changing the Dublin system on responsibility for asylum seekers, and creating a new EU asylum agency). Further proposals on legal migration and other EU asylum laws are coming in the months ahead.
An overview of the requirements for Schengen visa liberalisation for Turkey and information on whether or not they have been fulfilled, as set out in a Commission working document.
How to fix the EU’s troubled Common European Asylum Policy? The Commission has given its views today in the form of a discussion paper, with plans for further legislation. Will this fix the problems?
The Commission’s proposal to extend the fingerprinting of short-stay visa applicants to children from the ages of 6 and up is part of a list of possible “enhanced functionalities” (i.e. expanded uses) of the Visa Information System (VIS). These “functionalities” will be examined as part of a larger process of trying to beef up EU and national databases and information systems.
Back in December 2015, the Commission proposed the text of a Regulation creating a new EU Border Guard, which would replace the current Frontexagency. EU leaders have already asked for this law to be agreed by June. Most of the text of this proposal has already been agreed by the Council, although after that it will still have to be agreed with the European Parliament.
The EU and Turkey have now reached an agreementon refugee issues, which has aroused considerable legal and political controversy. To examine the arguments about the deal, I present here the main text with my legal assessment of each point annotated. This builds upon my comments (together with Emanuela Roman) first of all in general on the relevant points last month, and then secondly on the leaked draft text of the final deal earlier this week (I have reused here some of the latter analysis where relevant).
The EU’s deal with Turkey on refugees and migrants has been presented by its proponents as a quick and effective way to deal with the ongoing arrival of people in Europe. Its opponents maintain it is morally bankrupt and contrary to international law. Yet the EU’s approach to migrants and refugees is not solely concerned with such high-profile actions, and a whole host of new projects have been launched or given a new lease of life in recent months.
After the events and horrors of the past year it might be hoped that EU institutions and power elite will reflect on the cost with nearly 4,000 dead or missing refugees in the Med and reassert Europe’s humanitarian and welcoming history. Unfortunately all the indications are that a controlling and repressive “Fortress Europe Version III” will be put in place.
On 15 December 2015, the Commission’s “Progress report on the implementation of hotspots in Italy” was sent to the European Parliament and the Council, calling for further progress to be made in the fields of hotspots, relocation, returns, border management and reception capacity. Lamenting the slow progress in implementing “European Union Law” to build a “Common European Asylum System” in mid-October, the Commission called on Italy to “operationalise all hotspots”, make “full use of the existing detention capacity” while reforming norms on detention and ensuring “swift” transfers to either “second-line reception facilities” or “detention centres”.
Europe’s answer to the refugee crisis has so far been to intensify existing policies and practices, conveniently overlooking their role in the genesis of the problem and in demeaning the rule of law in its member states.
The EU’s response to the refugee situation has included the deployment of warships, plans for mass refoulement and the possible introduction of “one-for-one” schemes, none of which were mentioned in the priority actions proposed by the European Commission in February 2016.
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