2 March - 24 March 2021

The criminalisation of solidarity in Europe continues, as highlighted in a report by Choose Love on the pressure that Greece is placing on civil society actors helping refugees and the umpteenth set of charges levelled at 21 members of search and rescue crews in Italy. Even where organisations are able to rescue people at sea, those whom are brought ashore face a "lottery from the sea to hotspots and back to unsafety", says another report, which proposes alternatives to the ad-hoc relocation mechanism that leads to human rights violations for people disembarked in maritime border states.

Regarding the Frontex pushbacks scandal, its correspondence with national and EU authorities provides telling details of how these bodies interact, including evidence that a Danish helicopter crew was convinced to change its account of what it witnessed in the Aegean. Apart from this, Frontex is pushing ahead with plans to develop its intelligence capabilities to interrogate and question suspects, recruit informants and generally obtain "intelligence" to justify interventions.

This growth in the agency's intelligence-gathering capabilities fits within a pattern. The EU is developing a new architecture for borders, migration and security databases, described as a "paradigm shift" - and rules on a new "permission to travel" scheme that are part of these plans have been provisionally agreed. The EU and member states are also boosting the "external dimension" (with all it entails in terms of human rights abuses and systemic discrimination) under the Pact on Asylum and Migration, with attention initially going to North Africa. On this latter point, a new ActionAid report documents the use of Italian and EU funding in Libya, amid plans to turn the North African country into a "wall" for Europe.

Finally, the European Parliament Think Tank has published three briefings: on the recasting of the Returns Directive, a proposed common asylum procedure and on pushbacks at external borders - an ongoing illegal practice that should be much higher on the public agenda.

24 March 2021

EU: Tracking the Pact: Tunisia and other North African states targeted for new action on migration, asylum and more

Two papers circulated by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU give an insight into ongoing discussions and activities geared towards implementing the Pact on Migration and Asylum in North Africa, covering issues such as cooperation on asylum, border control and law enforcement.

19 March 2021

EU: One step closer to the establishment of the 'permission-to-travel' scheme

The Council and Parliament have reached provisional agreement on rules governing how the forthcoming European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will 'talk' to other migration and policing databases, with the purpose of conducting automated searches on would-be travellers to the EU.

16 March 2021

Libya key to EU plan to build a “big wall” against migration, says new report

Libya lies at the heart of a strategy for which funds from Italy, EU institutions and other member states have been channelled through an opaque financing mechanism with the central aim of reducing migration from Africa to Europe, says a new report by ActionAid.

11 March 2021

EU: Tracking the Pact: Migration obsession drives plans to boost the "external dimension"

The Portuguese Council Presidency and the EU's foreign affairs chief have prepared a 'Joint issues paper on The External Dimension of the EU’s Migration Policy under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum', which will be discussed at a joint meeting of EU interior and foreign affairs ministers next week.

11 March 2021

European Parliament briefings: Returns Directive, common asylum procedure, pushbacks at the external borders

Three recent briefings published by the European Parliament Think Tank look at key current issues in proposed EU migration and asylum legislation: the proposal to recast the 2008 Returns Directive, governing deportations from the EU; the recent proposal for a common asylum procedure; and pushbacks at the external borders.

10 March 2021

Italy: Charges pressed against search and rescue crews

Activists have condemned the Italian authorities' decision to charge 21 individuals from three human rights with aiding and abetting illegal immigration, following the closure of an investigation into the groups' search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

09 March 2021

EU: Frontex: “human intelligence” sources will provide "actionable intelligence", says document

Fourteen Frontex officers have been trained on “Interrogation, questioning and debriefing tactics” and “How to recruit an informant” as part of a plan for “a long-term increase in the flow of incoming intelligence related information,” a document obtained by Statewatch reveals.

04 March 2021

EU: Ad-hoc relocation: A lottery from the sea to the hotspots and back to unsafety

A new report shows how people rescued at sea and brought ashore in the EU are "being denied their fundamental rights" through the ad-hoc relocation mechanism, through which people seeking international protection are relocated from maritime border states such as Italy and Malta to elsewhere in the EU.

04 March 2021

EU: Pushbacks scandal: Frontex correspondence with national and EU authorities

On the day that the European Parliament's inquiry into Frontex begins, we are publishing correspondence between Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri and the European Commission, Council and Parliament, the Frontex Management Board, and the border authorities Greece, Romania, Portugal and Sweden, on the subject of alleged complicity in pushbacks in the Aegean region.

03 March 2021

EU: New databases and information systems: "a paradigm shift in the area of border management"

"The new architecture for EU information systems for borders, migration and security will completely change the way in which border control and other related activities will be carried out," says a document from the Portuguese Presidency of the Council.

02 March 2021

Greece: Crackdown on civil society groups working with refugees

A survey of 70 groups working with migrants and refugees in Greece reveals widespread problems provoked by changes to the country's legislation governing civil society organisations.


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