26 June 2018
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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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"Xenophobic populism and hate speech have continued to be on the rise in 2017, with high levels of migration and challenges of integration, religious extremism, terrorist attacks and the austerity-driven socio-economic climate observed all over Europe, says the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today."
See: ECRI report 2017 (pdf)
interoperable, centralised, Justice & Home Affairs database:
Adoption of Regulations a democratic shambles
On 12 December 2017 the Commission put forward proposals on "interoperability" which will bring together into a central source data held in the Justice & Home Affairs databases on asylum, migration and borders for the first time.
The European Parliament and the Council got to work quickly, after all the proposals concerned migration and terrorism and only covered non-EU citizens so they were thought to be uncontentious. By June 2018 both the institutions - as co-legislators - were well advanced on agreeing their negotiating positions prior to starting trilogue talks.
But in June 2018 the Comission produced two Amended Regulations dependent on five underlying mesures which have yet to be agreed.There is all the makings on a democratic shambles.
Are You Syrious (25.6.18, link)
Greece: Fascist Attack
"Activists report that a fascist attack took place on Sunday night
against a squatted social health centre, PIKPA, at Petralona,
Athens. Twenty men attacked the building with molotovs during
an assembly of the neighbourhood. One antifascist was injured
in the head, while police arrested the antifascists instead of
the attackers. A spontaneous demonstration happened after the
On Monday, Krypteia, a neonazi group responsible for many other attacks, claimed responsibility, also mentioning Manolada (the immigrant workers area) and an arson attack which took place there a few weeks ago."
European Parilament: Hotspots at EU external borders - State of play (pdf):
"As migration continues to be one of the EU's main challenges, the hotspots are a key element of EU support for Greece and Italy to help them face the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, reception conditions remain a concern. The majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants."
EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs (European Parliament, press release, link):
"The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime Civil Liberties Committee MEPs said on Monday.
MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on humanitarian help to migrants is having unintended consequences for EU citizens that provide it, in a non-legislative resolution passed by 38 votes to 16, with 2 abstentions.
Under the 2002 Facilitation directive, EU member states are required to introduce laws listing criminal penalties for anyone who facilitates the irregular entry, transit or residence of migrants.
However, the EU legislation also empowers member states to exempt humanitarian action from the list of crimes.(...)
They call on EU countries to include this exemption in their national laws, to ensure that individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons are not prosecuted for doing so."
"As Germany's government bitterly debates border protection, Austria is undertaking a large-scale border operation. Austrian leaders say the German squabble and possible changes to European policy triggered the move.
Austria held border patrol training exercises on Tuesday. The country's leaders told German newspaper Bild that they came in response to a rift in the German government over migration."
"The latest Council draft conclusions on migration circulated on Monday and obtained by POLITICO, which EU leaders will discuss at a summit this week, largely leaves out amendments proposed by the Commission."
See: European Council meeting (28 June 2018) Draft conclusions (Statewatch, LIMITE doc on: 8148-18, dated 25 June 2018, pdf)
"What the latest draft summit conclusions say: In this context, the European Council supports the development of a concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM [the International Organization for Migration]. Such platforms should allow for rapid and secure processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor.
EU summit to focus on lowering Mediterranean immigration (euractiv, link):
"European Union leaders meeting over migration later this week will agree to further tighten their external borders, give more support to Libya and look at creating disembarkation centres outside of their territory for people who arrive by sea.
But a draft of their statement showed no agreement on distributing asylum seekers around the bloc, a measure strongly opposed by the Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia).
With anti-immigration politicians raising the stakes in EU countries from Germany and Austria to Italy and Hungary, the bloc is seeking more ways to curb Mediterranean arrivals."
Council of the European Union: Letter from the High Commissioner for Refugees to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria (LIMITE doc no: 10316, pdf): Backing the need for solidarity between EU Member States to take their fair share of refugees.
See also: Conte and Macron compare notes on migration at mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU. No results were announced but sources said the discussions had largely revolved around a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte." and Migration is threat to EU free travel area, says Italian prime minister - Giuseppe Conte presents 10-point plan to solve migration crisis at emergency summit (Guardian, link)
And: Migration crisis risks Europes dream - Antonio Tajani (Times, Malta, link): Antonio Tajani is president of the European Parliament.
"The UNHCR reports that in the last three days approximately 220 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This spike in death toll caused the UN agency to call for more rescue capacity at sea, while European governments, with Italy in a leading role, do everything to avoid effective sea rescue. Sea-Watch warned on Wednesday of deadly days on the horizon due to a lack of rescue capacity; these drownings are a direct effect of the current crackdown on sea rescue."
EU: Europes asylum system is broken and leaders must fix it (AI, link)
"Hungarian humanitarian groups that help asylum seekers are standing in defiance of new draconian laws imposed by Viktor Orbans authoritarian government that criminalize their work."
"An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europes Venice Commission criticises a key provision on illegal migration of the so-called Stop Soros legislation that the Hungarian Parliament adopted this week.(...)
the Hungarian provision goes far beyond what is allowed under Article 11, as it unfairly criminalises organisational activities not directly related to the materialisation of illegal migration, including preparing or distributing informational materials or initiating asylum requests for migrants. Criminalising such activities disrupts assistance to victims by NGOs, disproportionally restricting their rights as guaranteed under Article 11, and under international law. Furthermore, criminalising advocacy and campaigning activities under the new provision constitutes illegitimate interference with freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10, according to the opinion."[emphasis added]
See: Press release (link)
"The European Union is stepping up efforts to protect its external borders. The focus is on developing the Frontex Border Agency into a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Another pillar of EU migration policy is the transfer of border security to third countries. Particular attention is paid to the maritime borders in Libya and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, most of the migrants reaching the European Union via the Mediterranean come from Libya. Their absolute number is declining, yet in 2017 almost 119,000 people fled.
The fragile unity government in Tripoli controls only a fraction of the land borders. However, their military coastguard and civilian maritime police are responsible for those stretches of the coast from which many depart for the EU."
EU: Visegrad Four to shun EU's weekend mini-summit on migrant crisis(ekathimerini.com, link):
"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday said leaders of the Visegrad Four countries Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will skip a European Union mini-summit on the migration crisis this weekend.
All four eastern EU states strongly oppose calls from western counterparts especially Germany for all member states to accept a quota of migrants who have streamed into the EU since 2015 in order to share the burden around the bloc."
EU: Tensions build ahead of hastily prepared migration meeting (euractiv, link):
"Jean-Claude Junckers invitation to a handful of EU leaders for an informal mini-summit on Sunday (27 June) to discuss migration and asylum appears to have raised more issues than the meeting can solve."
"The heart is where the battle is": A celebration of Sivanandan's legacy, Saturday 23 June 2018. The Memorial event at Conway Hall. London will be live-streamed on the Institute of Race Relations News Youtube Channel from 1.30 to 5.00pm: https://www.youtube.com/user/IRRnews
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application.... Preparation for the trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 9848-18, pdf)
"It is of utmost importance to Member States that the European Parliament has accepted the possibility for Member States to use a proportionate degree of coercion as a last resort to ensure the compliance of minors with the obligation to provide biometric data."
EU countries prepare mini-summit as migration row festers (ekathimerini.com,link):
"Leaders from a group of European Union countries, led by Germany and France, will meet Sunday to thrash out possible solutions to a divisive row over migrants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose own government is in crisis over the management of migrant arrivals, is expected to join the leaders of Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain for informal talks at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday."
This unusual move just days before an European Council (Heads of State) meeting was unowned by the Commission in a minimal way see: Informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues (Press release, pdf). The text simply says:
"President Juncker is convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming European Council."
"Hungarys parliament yesterday (20 June) approved a package of bills that criminalises some help given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups.
Parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an alien population cannot be settled in Hungary a swipe at Brussels over its resettlement quota plan.
The legislation narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), making their workers liable for jail terms for helping migrants to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it."
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