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.
The greatest mistake would be to analyse the current situation and try to resolve it by following the same policy principles and approaches which produced it, as the EU is currently doing, by intensifying and militarising them. The current model has been based on restricting “illegal” or “irregular” immigration as absolute policy goals, by portraying the figure of the irregular and illegal migrant, or “clandestine”, who would be better termed “irregularised” or “illegalised”, as a security threat.
The term ‘safe country’ has been applied to countries which can be considered either as being non-refugee-producing or as being countries in which people fleeing persecution can enjoy asylum. The ‘safe country’ concept in European law has multiple meanings related to the process of asylum seeking and refugee protection: the concepts of ‘safe country of origin’, ‘safe third country’, ‘first country of asylum’, and ‘European safe third country’, all appear in the Procedures Directive, which establishes the common legal standards and guarantees for how to apply for asylum in EU Member States. This article scrutinizes the concepts of ‘safe country of origin’ and ‘safe third country’ as applied to current developments in Turkey.
Over the past year EU institutions – the Council of the European Union (28 Member States) and the European Commission – have been quarrelling publicly, Heads of State have been attacking eachother and national government Ministers openly expressing xenophobic and racist views. Plans for relocation within the EU are in tatters as are the pledges of funding.
Years ago, shortly before the creation of Frontex (the EU’s border control agency) and the big EU enlargement of 2004, I discussed the future of EU borders policy with a senior German civil servant. Anxious about the forthcoming enlargement of the EU (and,in time, Schengen), his vision was that every Lithuanian or Polish border post would be jointly staffed by a friendly German.
A very big effort is always made following commercial disasters such as shipwrecks or airplane crashes, and following humanitarian disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. A well-oiled system swings into operation, albeit that respect for the rights of the dead and their surviving family members, may not be the sole or main concern of those who are or may be responsible for the disaster, with commercial considerations normally playing a part. Nevertheless, full investigations take place. Conventions and protocols apply. There is painstaking collection of evidence and of data as a matter of routine, and there will be detailed reports, payment of compensation, and surviving family members will be enabled to identify, bury and mourn their dead.
(Council docs. 13689/02; 13689/02 add 1; and 13996/02)
The Charter should become part of the treaties, subject to a number of important clarifications made to its horizontal provisions as regards competence, limitation clauses, and rights other than those based on the EC/EU Treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The European Union should also be granted competence to accede to the ECHR.
The Commission's recent Communication on border control (COM (2002) 233) sets out a number of proposals for developing common control of the EU's external borders. The principal elements in this plan are a 'common unit' of senior border control officials to control the implementation of a common border control policy; further exchange of information between a large number of authorities, including the Schengen Information System, the visa information database, police authorities and Europol; and the development of a Common European Border Corps with powers to check people at the border, deny them entry, board vessels and arrest individuals.
Submission by Statewatch to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, sub-committee "E" on the proposal to combat terrorism
Many of the “operational" initiatives in the Conclusions and the "roadmap" concern the creation of ad hoc, informal, groups, targets and cooperation. There is little or no mention of accountability to the European parliament or national parliaments. No mention at all of data protection or to recourse to courts for individuals who might be affected. Moreover, there is a real danger that these "temporary" arrangements will become permanent leaving a whole layer of EU inter-agencies informal groups, information and intelligence exchanges and operational practices quite unaccountable.
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