Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 10..3.16


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 Justice and Home Affairs Council adopts Conclusions on "migrant smuggling" and facilitating "illegal entry & transit"

- the "humanitarian exception" of helping refugees is seen as an "obstacle" to prosecutions - the term "refugee" is not mentioned once


Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Has the threat to criminalise NGOs, volunteers and local people disappeared? On the contrary, it has moved formally onto the agenda for Eurojust to conclude that the "humanitarian exception" of helping refugees in need is an "obstacle" to the investigation and prosecution of "migrant smugglers".

At the same time, here and now, in Greece NGOs and volunteers are being required to register with the state-police and account to them for all their actions."

See: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

 EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: 10-11 March 2015: "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf) and "A" Points Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf) and Background Note (pdf)

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - Provisions on return (LIMITE doc no:6884-16, pdf) and

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC)
No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC
 (LIMITE doc no: 6652, pdf)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - State of play (LIMITE doc no: 6744-16, pdf)

 EU-Funded migration management project launched in Belgrade (Frontex, link): " This regional support programme for the countries of the Western Balkans
and Turkey aims to establish a harmonized, effective and protection-sensitive migration management in line with EU standards"

 European Parliament: MEPs demand details of the EU-Turkey deal and compliance with international law (Press release, pdf):

"MEPs demanded details on Wednesday of the deal struck by EU leaders with Turkey on the management of migrant and refugee flows, underlining that the international asylum rules must be respected. In a plenary debate with the Council and the Commission, most political group leaders insisted that EU accession negotiations with Turkey and talks on visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals travelling to the EU should not be linked to the refugee issue....

Note to editors: Visa exemption rule changes entail switching the country concerned from one annex to Regulation 539/01 to another (such changes are subject to co-decision by Parliament and the Council)."

 Greece: Tsipras reacts to Tusk statement on closure of Balkan route for migrants (, link):

"“The Western Balkans route has come to an end due to unilateral actions by certain countries. EU has no future if it goes on like that,” Tsipras tweeted. “We expect D. Tusk, president of EU28 to focus efforts on implementing our common decisions and not encourage those who ignore them,” the Greek premier added.

Earlier, Tusk wrote on Twitter that “Irregular flows of migrants along Western Balkans route have come to an end. “Not a question of unilateral actions but common EU28 decision... I thank Western Balkan ountries for implementing part of EUs comprehensive strategy to deal with migration crisis,” Tusk added."

and: Tusk – Tsipras – Merkel: “War of Words” about the Closure of Balkan Route (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Comment: The EU Council President D Tusk seems to have forgotten that the draft Summit statement referred to closing the Balkan route but the final press statement did not. This is why it is right to speak of continuous unilateral action by European states.

and see: Austria wants Balkan route to stay closed (link): "Austria’s interior minister says the Balkan migrant route should remain closed permanently and that the “clock will not be turned back.”"

 Philippe Lamberts: Europe’s governments have shown ‘unconscionable cowardice’ over migration crisis (euractiv, link):

"If the French government had supported its German partners on the issue of refugees, the European response to the crisis would not have been a failure, according to Philippe Lamberts....

The EU-Turkey migration summit led to a series of proposals that have been roundly criticised, notably within the European Parliament. How would you assess the attitude of the European governments during the negotiations?

First of all, the deal on the table is illegal. For Europe to say that for every refugee that is turned away from Greece, it will accept one refugee arriving through a legal channel, is both illegal and immoral. This means that as many refugees as possible should try to leave Turkey illegally, in order to open the door to the EU for the largest possible number of refugees."

 Detention of asylum-seekers: the first CJEU judgment (EU Law Analysis, link):

One of the most controversial aspects of immigration and asylum law is the detention of migrants: people who have broken no criminal law (other than, possibly a criminal law about migration control) but who are detained during their asylum application, or pending their removal from the country. The EU has had rules on detention of irregular migrants for some time, in the Returns Directive (on the CJEU’s interpretation of those rules, see my journal article here). But it has only recently had rules on the detention of asylum-seekers, in the second-phase Directive on the reception conditions for asylum-seekers. (The UK and Ireland have opted out of both Directives).

Recently, in the JN judgment, the CJEU ruled for the first time on the interpretation of these new rules...

the EU’s refugee policies are obviously in a state of deep crisis. Rather than leave the issue entirely to populists at the EU or national level, it would be better for the EU ask a panel of respected international experts to recommend (quickly) how the EU, in the wider international context, should deal with the crisis. I would nominate (say) Mary Robinson, David Miliband, Madeline Albright and Carl Bildt for this task. In any event, we cannot go on as we are: the EU needs an asylum policy that is simultaneously fair, humane, realistic and coherent; but it is falling far short of that at the moment. "

 News (10.3.16)

This Turkish deal is illegal and betrays Europe’s values by Guy Verhofstadt (Guardian, link): "The refugee crisis won’t be solved by the EU signing a pact with an increasingly authoritarian regime."

Hungary declares ‘state of crisis’, poised to build more fences (euactiv, link): "Following the Balkan states’ decisions to either close or partially shut down their borders, Hungary has decided to send more troops and police to guard its frontiers. Budapest announced it is prepared to build a wall on its border with Romania within ten days if necessary."

The Council adopts the new Emergency support in case of crisis inside the EU (EASFJ, link)

Migrant crisis: Merkel condemns closure of Balkan route (BBC News, link)

Britain to send Land Rovers to Bulgaria to help police borders (Guardian, link): "UK government’s decision angers human rights campaigners who accuse Bulgarian officials of abuses against migrants."

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