Category Archives: Communiqués

Commission Communication on Migration of 4 May

The European Commission today issued a Communication on Migration (COM(2011) 248 final) in response to the ongoing arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers in Italy and Malta and in response to the calls by Italy and France for changes in the implementation or interpretation of the Schengen Agreement.

France has welcomed the Commission’s Communication: “We note with interest that the Commission is considering establishing a mechanism for the temporary reintroduction of controls on some sections of internal borders in cases of difficulties or failures of a Member State. We also welcome the emphasis on strengthening the operational capacity of Frontex, the prospect of ultimately creating a European border guard that France has repeatedly called for. Finally, we welcome with satisfaction the intention of the Commission to propose a suspension clause of the liberalization of visa abuse.” (“Nous relevons ainsi avec intérêt que la Commission envisage l’établissement d’un mécanisme permettant la réintroduction temporaire des contrôles à certaines sections des frontières intérieures en cas de difficultés ou de défaillances d’un État membre. Nous nous félicitons aussi de l’accent mis sur le renforcement des capacités opérationnelles de FRONTEX, avec la perspective de créer à terme un système européen de garde-frontières que la France a régulièrement appelé de ses vœux. Nous accueillons enfin avec satisfaction l’intention de la Commission de proposer une clause de suspension de la libéralisation des visas en cas d’abus.”)

Excerpts from the Commission’s Communication on Migration:


The purpose of this Communication is to set recent and future policy proposals in a framework that takes account of all relevant aspects and allows the EU and its Member States to manage asylum, migration and mobility of third-country nationals in a secure environment.


The continuously evolving situation in our Southern Neighbourhood requires rapid responses. Building upon the European Council Conclusions of 11 and 25 March, the European Parliament’s Resolution of 5 April1, and, the joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of 8 March, the Commission will present on 24 May a package of proposals to ensure a coherent EU approach in the area of migration, mobility and security with the Southern Mediterranean countries.

However, the need to address this challenging and evolving situation should not lead to a short-term approach limited to border control without taking account of long-term issues.


The EU should also ensure that it has in place safe and efficient asylum procedures for people in need of protection. Sixty years after the signature of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, it is time for the EU to reaffirm its commitment to offer protection to any persecuted third country national or stateless person arriving on its territory. A Common European Asylum System, offering a high level of protection and reducing the disparities among Member States’ asylum systems, must be completed by 2012, as agreed by the European Council.


At the same time, as recent events have starkly illustrated, the EU continues to face serious challenges in the development of its migration policy. The vulnerability of some sections of the EU’s external borders is a clear example, notably in the Southern Mediterranean and at the land border between Greece and Turkey. In particular, measures must be taken to prevent large numbers of irregular migrants, often exploited by unscrupulous criminal networks, from arriving in the EU. The EU should accordingly pursue a migration policy based on ensuring that inward migration is effectively managed and ensure that the need for enhanced mobility does not undermine the security of the Union’s external borders. While this Communication naturally focuses on regions of most immediate concern, the EU’s migration policy follows a geographically comprehensive approach.


However, while the current crisis confirms the need for increased solidarity at the European level and better sharing of responsibility, it must be recognised that the EU is not fully equipped to help those Member States most exposed to massive migratory movements.


Building on the experience gained so far with the current pilot project on relocation from Malta, the Commission will support an extension of this project in view of the current influx of migrants seeking international protection there, to be implemented in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.

However, the currently available instruments fall short of fulfilling all the needs and providing a comprehensive response. They can only be resorted to in an ad hoc manner, and are entirely dependent on the will of Member States to voluntarily offer assistance – in whatever form – at a given point in time. This in turn exposes the EU to criticism and risks undermining the trust of the citizens in the EU.

The Commission will closely monitor the continuously evolving situation and may decide, if the relevant conditions are met, to trigger the Temporary Protection Directive3 to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from third countries that are unable to return to their country of origin.

The Commission will make further proposals during 2011 on delivering solidarity in a holistic manner and how concretely such assistance can be delivered. A number of different approaches are currently being studied, with a view to developing alternatives that will allow urgent needs to be responded to in a more rapid and structured fashion. This initiative will build on the appropriate legal basis of the Lisbon Treaty, such as Articles 80 and 78 paragraph 3, and will draw lessons from the situation in Greece, particularly at the land border between Greece and Turkey, and the crisis in the Southern Mediterranean; it will include possible ad hoc measures to be resorted to in case of particular temporary pressure on one or several Member States, as well as more structural means of ensuring solidarity, both financial and in the form of practical cooperation and technical assistance (e.g. via FRONTEX, EASO, joint operations).


FRONTEX’s role is key in channelling resources to places where the border is under pressure, as shown by the deployment – for the first time ever – of rapid border intervention teams to the Greek-Turkish land border in 2010 and the deployment of the joint naval operation HERMES to support Italy in 2011. FRONTEX’s legal framework needs be updated to allow it to be more effective in terms of its operational capacity to act at the external border. The Commission proposed the necessary changes in February last year5 and it is now urgent, especially in the light of recent events, that the Council and the Parliament approve this proposal before the end of this semester, as called for by the European Council.


[A] clear system for Schengen governance is needed. Currently the Union still relies on an intergovernmental system of peer reviews to ensure the application of the common rules. The current revision of the Schengen evaluation mechanism should be based on a Community approach with participation of experts from Member States, FRONTEX and lead by the Commission. The proposed mechanism would ensure more transparency and improve the follow-up of shortcomings identified during the experts’ evaluations. The Commission will also issue guidelines to ensure a coherent implementation and interpretation of the Schengen rules.

A mechanism must also be put in place to allow the Union to handle situations where either a Member State is not fulfilling its obligations to control its section of the external border, or where a particular portion of the external border comes under unexpected and heavy pressure due to external events. A coordinated Community-based response by the Union in critical situations would undoubtedly increase trust among Member States. It would also reduce recourse to unilateral initiatives by Member States to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls or to intensify police checks in internal border regions which inevitably slow down the crossing of internal borders for everyone. Such a mechanism may therefore need to be introduced, allowing for a decision at the European level defining which Member States would exceptionally reintroduce internal border control and for how long. The mechanism should be used as a last resort in truly critical situations, until other (emergency) measures have been taken to stabilise the situation at the relevant external border section either at European level, in a spirit of solidarity, and/or at national level, to better comply with the common rules. The Commission is exploring the feasibility of introducing such a mechanism, and may present a proposal to this effect shortly.


One of the main purposes of the Common European Asylum System is to reduce the wide divergence in the outcome of asylum applications lodged in different countries of the EU, and to ensure a common set of procedural and substantive rights which can be relied on across the Union, while ensuring full compliance with the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees and other relevant international obligations.

In 2010, there were some 257 800 asylum seekers registered in the EU, or 515 applicants per million inhabitants. Ten Member States accounted for more than 90% of applicants registered in the EU17.

It is time to complete the Common European Asylum System by reaching agreement on a balanced package by the 2012 deadline agreed by the European Council in December 2009. To that end, the Commission will shortly put forward modified proposals on the Reception Conditions and the Asylum Procedures Directives. A balanced agreement on the revision of the Dublin Regulation must be reached, including on a last resort emergency mechanism in case of exceptional pressures, and on the revised Eurodac system.


Click here for the Communication – COM(2011) 248 final.

Click here for Commission Press Statement and here for Commission FAQs.

Click here for French Government’s Point de Presse.


Filed under Communiqués, European Union, France, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

EU Foreign Affairs Council: Condemnation of Libya, but No Call for Sanctions or Travel Bans

The conclusions of the just completed EU Council meeting on Foreign Affairs were released yesterday.  Not surprisingly, Libya was a major topic of discussion and there was condemnation of the Libyan government’s actions.  But there is a strong difference of opinion among member states regarding what else should be done.  Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb called for the imposition of sanctions against Gaddafi, his family, and Libyan government officials saying “it was hypocritical that Europe last month slapped sanctions on the Belarussian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, and his associates. ‘How can we on one side look at what’s going on in Libya, with almost 300 people shot dead, and not talk about sanctions or travel bans, and at the same time put travel bans and sanctions in Belarus?’.”  Italy strongly opposed imposing sanction against Libya:  Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a “European Marshall Plan” instead of sanctions.  His plan would “include political, economic, and social support” for Libya.

Among the agreed upon conclusions was the following:  “The Council stresses the importance of strengthened cooperation with Mediterranean countries to address illegal immigration, in accordance with the principles of international law. JHA Ministers meeting later this week in the Council will pursue detailed work on this issue.”

Click here for the Foreign Affairs Council Meeting Conclusions.

Click here, here, here, and here for articles. (EN)

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ECRE and AI Joint Briefing on Commission Proposal to Amend Frontex Regulation

On 21 September ECRE and Amnesty International released a 30+ page joint briefing on the 24 February 2010 European Commission “Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX),” COM(2010) 61 final.

The joint briefing presents detailed views on the proposal and makes numerous specific recommendations for possible amendments.  I have not had time to read the full briefing closely, but here are several excerpts from the Summary:

“1. Role and responsibilities of Frontex vis-à-vis Member States –  [***] Amnesty International and ECRE recommend that Frontex be subject to full accountability by the enhancement of democratic oversight of the Agency before the European Parliament, in addition to judicial oversight by the European Courts for legal protection against unlawful actions, and by effective implementation of the requirement to give access to prompt, objective and reliable information on its activities. In particular, accountability should be enhanced by providing for the following: 1) Relevant information, including risk analysis, should be transmitted to the European Parliament to enable adequate scrutiny of Frontex activities; 2) Independent observation should be enabled at the meetings of the Management Board; 3) Frontex programme of work should be subject to public consultation. [***]

2. The legal framework governing Frontex –  The proposal clarifies the legal framework of Frontex operations by stating explicitly that its activities are subject to the Schengen Borders Code and should be undertaken in accordance to relevant international and EU law, obligations related to international protection and fundamental rights. Sea border surveillance activities fall within the remit of the Schengen Borders Code, even if implemented in the high seas, and as such must be conducted without prejudice of the rights of refugees and other persons demanding international protection. The Council Decision setting out rules which apply to join sea operations further clarifies that all aspects of these operations, including interception and disembarkation, are subject to international obligations arising from refugee and human rights law.

While meant to deal with Member States’ disputes over responsibility, the Council Decision also includes non-binding guidelines, which must form part of the operational plan drawn up for each Frontex operation and state modalities for disembarkation of persons intercepted or rescued. Yet, these are not detailed enough to ensure that sea operations will meet the requisite standards.

Amnesty International and ECRE recommend that the new Frontex Regulation includes an explicit requirement that the rules for interception at sea operations be formalized in the operational plan. Moreover, they should be accompanied with detailed measures to ensure that disembarkation meets the requisite standards, in particular by specifying the place of disembarkation and as regards the provision of food, shelter and medical care, as well as access to asylum and protection from refoulement.

Although the extent of the extraterritorial application of the EU acquis remains to be determined, Member States intercepting individuals beyond their territorial waters cannot operate in a legal vacuum. In addition, when border surveillance activities take place in the territorial waters of a third country, Member States and Frontex appear to attribute responsibility for any possible human rights breaches to the third country concerned. Adequate measures must also be in place to ensure that those involved in joint operations are able to guarantee refugee and human rights protections in a practical way, both when they act within a territory or territorial waters, as well as extraterritorially Amnesty International and ECRE recommend that the proposal sets out the concrete measures by which States can effectively meet their obligations, when these are engaged both territorially and extraterritorially. These should include at a minimum the following: 1) Individuals have the possibility of explaining their circumstances during a personal interview; 2) Those who wish to apply for asylum are helped to access the asylum procedure, including through interpretation and independent legal advice. International cooperation should never be construed as releasing EU Member States from fundamental rights obligations in relation to those intercepted or diverted in the territorial sea of the third state in question. [***]”

Click here for the Joint Briefing.

Click here for the Proposed Amendment to the Regulation.

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ECRE’s Recommendations to the Belgian EU Presidency

ECRE issued last week a letter and memorandum setting forth its recommendations to the Belgian EU Presidency in regard to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and other related legislative files that will be considered during the Belgian Presidency.

Among the several important recommendations made by ECRE are the following:

“Access to protection – … [C]ooperation between the EASO, FRA and FRONTEX provide opportunities to develop mechanisms at EU level to guarantee that border control mechanisms are protection-sensitive in practice. The recently adopted guidelines for joint sea operations coordinated by FRONTEX restate the international human rights framework governing interception at sea and reaffirm the obligation of Member States to ensure that “no person shall be disembarked in, or otherwise handed over to the authorities of a country in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement, or from which there is a risk of expulsion or return to another country in contravention of that principle.”  They also explicitly require that “the person intercepted or rescued shall be informed in an appropriate way so that they can express any reasons for believing that disembarkation in the proposed place would be in breach of the principle of non-refoulement”. Whereas the guidelines merely restate these principles, they need to be implemented in practice. Given that the actual disembarkation of persons intercepted or rescued in the context of FRONTEX operations is dealt with in the non-binding part of the guidelines, it remains to be seen how effective this tool will be in order to ensure effective access to protection.

Recently the Commission proposed the third substantive revision of FRONTEX’ mandate. The Commission proposal unambiguously asserts that relevant EU standards, as well as international human rights and refugee law, are applicable to all border operations carried out by Member States under the auspices of Frontex and to all other activities entrusted to the Agency, which ECRE welcomes.

At the same time, while the intention of the Commission is to further clarify the role and responsibilities of FRONTEX vis-à-vis the Member States, the fundamental ambiguities about accountability for possible human rights violations during border control operations coordinated by FRONTEX are not resolved. ECRE believes that the respective roles and responsibilities of Member States’ guest officers, host Member State border officers, observers from third countries and FRONTEX personnel in those operations must be clearly established to avoid “accountability shifting” between the various actors involved. The enhanced role of FRONTEX in coordinating joint operations necessarily adds to FRONTEX’ responsibility and therefore further amendments to the Commission proposal are required to reinforce the Agency’s accountability.

Moreover, the proposed expansion of the role of FRONTEX in cooperating with third countries in border management, including through the posting of Immigration Liaison Officers, raises a number of concerns from a fundamental rights perspective, in particular regarding the ability of individuals to flee and find protection from persecution. Consequently, ECRE believes that additional safeguards are needed to ensure that FRONTEX activities will indeed not “prevent access to protection systems by persons in need of international protection” as required by the Stockholm Programme.

ECRE calls upon the Council and the European Parliament in particular to:

  • Support the proposed amendments to the FRONTEX Regulation reasserting the obligations under EU law and fundamental rights which are incumbent upon Member States when taking part in the Agency’s operations.
  • Establish mechanisms to reinforce FRONTEX accountability in view of the increasing responsibilities placed on the Agency.
  • Introduce the necessary safeguards to ensure that FRONTEX enhanced capacity to cooperate with third countries does not prevent access to protection systems by persons in need of international protection.”

Click here for the ECRE Memorandum.

Click here for the ECRE Letter to the Belgian EU Presidency.

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EU and ACP Fail to Reach Agreement on Migration in Revised Cotonou Agreement

Representatives of the EU and ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific group of states) signed the second revision to the Cotonou Agreement in Ouagadougou on 22 June.  The Agreement provides the basic framework for relations between the EU and ACP states.  The parties failed to reach agreement on revisions to Article 13, the migration provision.

The EU has been pressuring the ACP states to agree to changes in the Cotonou Agreement which would make it easier for EU member states to return illegal or irregular migrants from the EU to their home countries.  ACP states resisted incorporating such a provision in the Agreement, instead wanting to deal with readmission issues on a bi-lateral basis.

As a result of this ongoing disagreement, Article 13 of the Agreement will remain unchanged for the time being.  The EU and ACP instead agreed on a Joint Declaration (Declaration III) which was signed yesterday in conjunction with the revised Cotonou Agreement.  It reads as follows:


The Parties agree to strengthen and deepen their dialogue and cooperation in the area of migration, building on the following three pillars of a comprehensive and balanced approach to migration:

1. Migration and Development, including issues relating to diasporas, brain drain and remittances;

2. Legal migration including admission, mobility and movement of skills and services; and

3. Illegal migration, including smuggling and trafficking of human beings and border management, as well as readmission.

Without prejudice to the current Article 13, the Parties undertake to work out the details of this enhanced cooperation in the area of migration.  They further agree to work towards the timely completion of this dialogue and to report about the progress made to the next ACP-EC Council.”

Click here for the full 2010 amendments to the Cotonou Agreement.

Click here for EU Council Press Release.

Click here for the Secretariat of the ACP States’ web page pertaining to the Cotonou Agreement.

Click here for the EU web page pertaining to the Cotonou Agreement.

Click here, here, and here for previous posts on the Migration provision of the Cotonou Agreement.

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14th Ministerial Meeting of Africa-EU Dialogue

The 14th Ministerial Meeting of the Africa-EU Dialogue was held in Luxembourg on 26 April.  The meeting topics included preparation for the second Action Plan (2011-13) and the upcoming 3rd AU-Africa Summit which will be held in November 2010.  For more information on the Africa-EU Partnership and Dialogue see the EC Development web site and the Europafrica web site.  One of the eight thematic partnerships of the Dialogue is Migration, Mobility and Employment.

Click here for the Ministerial Meeting Communiqué.

Click here for the EC Development web article.

Click here for the 2007 Action Plan on Migration.

Click here for information on the Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment from

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Revisions to Cotonou Agreement’s Migration Provisions

The EU and the 78 ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Nations agreed in principle on 19 March to the 2010 revisions to the 2000 Cotonou Agreement.  But the ACP and EU failed to agree on proposed revisions relating to the deportations of irregular migrants from the EU and on proposed revisions relating to gay and lesbian rights.

The revised agreement is scheduled to be signed in June in Burkina Faso.  According to the AFP “[a]n ACP diplomat said … that the 78 nations wanted the question of immigrant returnees to be dealt with in bilateral deals, country by country, rather than as part of Cotonou.”

Click here for the Joint Declaration on Migration and Development issued on 19 March by the EU and the ACP relating to Article 13 (Migration) of the Cotonou Agreement.

Click here and here for articles.

Click here and here for EU Press Statements.


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Réaction du REMDH suite au Sommet UE-Maroc

“Réaction et commentaires du Réseau Euro-Méditerranéen des Droits de l’Homme (REMDH) suite à la Déclaration conjointe publiée lors du premier Sommet UE-Maroc qui s’est tenu les 6 et 7 Mars 2010 à Grenade:

Le REMDH note avec satisfaction que la déclaration conjointe réaffirme les droits de l’Homme comme étant « l’un des piliers fondamentaux du partenariat UE-Maroc ». Il salue l’accent mis sur la nécessité de mettre en œuvre toutes les recommandations de l’Instance Equité et Réconciliation (IER) ainsi que de poursuivre les réformes en matière de justice, de liberté d’expression, de presse et d’association.  Cependant, le REMDH regrette que la Déclaration ne mentionne pas explicitement les droits de l’Homme parmi les domaines qui requièrent une attention particulière comme la réforme de la justice ou les droits des migrants….

Le REMDH exprime par ailleurs sa plus vive inquiétude concernant la volonté réaffirmée de conclure dès que possible un accord de réadmission. La loi relative à l’entrée et au séjour des étrangers au Maroc ne garantit pas la protection des droits de l’Homme, en particulier, le droit à un recours effectif ainsi que la protection contre le retour forcé vers un pays où la sécurité de la personne ne serait pas assurée. Dans ce contexte, le REMDH estime que les droits des migrants, réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile ne sont pas garantis. Il demande à l’UE et au Maroc de respecter leurs engagements internationaux en la matière notamment en interrompant les négociations en cours en vue de la conclusion d’un accord de réadmission…..”

Cliquez ici pour le commentaire complet.

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Vacancy for ED of the European Asylum Support Office

Since the European Parliament will likely soon act to adopt formally the Regulation establishing the European Asylum Support Office, the vacancy for Executive Director position has been announced.

The Closing Date for applications is 9 April 2010.

Vacancy for an Executive Director (Grade AD 14) of the European Asylum Support Office, Malta —COM/2010/10234 .

“[T}the Office shall be a Community body having legal personality. The Office will play a key role in helping to improve the implementation of the Common European Asylum System and in strengthening practical cooperation among Member States in asylum-related matters.”

“The Director will be the legal representative and public face of the Office. She/he shall be independent in the performance of her/his duties and shall be accountable for her/his activities to the Management Board, which will consist of 26 voting members appointed by the Member States bound by the Regulation, 2 voting members appointed by the Commission, with Denmark and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) attending as non-voting members.”

“The Executive Director shall report to the European Parliament on the performance of her/his tasks when invited. The Council may invite the Executive Director to report on the performance of his/her tasks.”

“The Director will have a central role in setting up the Office, which shall be fully operational within one year of the entry into force of the founding Regulation. She/he will be responsible for establishing the administrative, operational and financial structures necessary for the proper operation of the Office, including the recruitment of key staff.”

“Closing date – Applications must be sent either by e-mail or by registered mail no later than 9/04/2010 (date of e-mail or date as postmark for registered mail).”

Click here for full document.

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EU Stockholm Programme Adopted

EU heads of state and government have adopted the framework for the Stockholm Programme to be implemented during the 2010-2014 period.

Portions of the newly adopted programme relevant to migrants include the following (emphasis added):


5. Access to Europe in a globalised world

5.1 Integrated management of the external borders

The Union must continue to facilitate legal access to the territory of the Member States while in parallel taking measures to counteract illegal immigration and cross-border crime and maintaining a high level of security. The strengthening of border controls should not prevent access to protection systems by those persons entitled to benefit from them, and especially people and groups that are in vulnerable situations. In this regard, priority will be given to the needs of international protection and reception of unaccompanied minors. It is essential that the activities of Frontex and of the European Asylum Support Office are coordinated when it comes to the reception of migrants at the EU’s external borders. The European Council calls for the further development of integrated border management, including the reinforcement of the role of Frontex in order to increase its capacity to respond more effectively to changing migration flows.

The European Council therefore

▪ requests the Commission to put forward proposals no later than early 2010 to clarify the mandate and enhance the role of FRONTEX, taking account of the results of the evaluation of the Agency and the role and responsibilities of the Member States in the area of border control. Elements of these proposals could contain preparation of clear common operational procedures containing clear rules of engagement for joint operations at sea, with due regard to ensuring protection for those in need who travel in mixed flows, in accordance with international law; increased operational cooperation between Frontex and countries of origin and transit and examination of the possibility of regular chartering financed by Frontex[.] In order to promote the proper enforcement of the applicable statutory framework for Frontex operations, the Commission should consider including a mechanism for reporting and recording incidents that can be satisfactorily followed up by the relevant authorities,

▪ invites FRONTEX itself to consider, within its mandate, establishing regional and/or specialised offices to take account of the diversity of situations, particularly for the land border to the East and the sea border to the South; creating such offices should on no account undermine the unity of the Frontex agency; before creating such offices, Frontex should report to the Council on its intentions,

▪ invites the Commission to initiate a debate on the long-term development of FRONTEX. This debate should include, as was envisaged in the Hague programme, the feasibility of the creation of a European system of border guards,

▪ invites the EASO to develop methods to better identify those who are in need of international protection in mixed flows, and to cooperate with Frontex wherever possible,

▪ considers that the evaluation of the Schengen area will continue to be of key importance and that it therefore should be improved by strengthening the role of Frontex in this field,

▪ invites the Council and the Commission to support enhanced capacity building in third countries so that they can control efficiently their external borders.


6. A Europe of responsibility, solidarity and partnership in migration and asylum matters

The European Council recognises both the opportunities and challenges posed by increased mobility of persons, and underlines that well-managed migration can be beneficial to all stakeholders. [***]  Furthermore, the European Council recalls that the establishment of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012 remains a key policy objective for the EU.

The European Council calls for the development of a comprehensive and sustainable European migration and asylum policy framework, which in a spirit of solidarity can adequately and proactively manage fluctuations in migration flows and address situations such as the present one at the Southern external borders. Serious efforts are needed to build and strengthen dialogue and partnership between the EU and third countries, regions and organisations in order to achieve an enhanced and evidence-based response to these situations, taking into account that illegal immigration enters the Union also via other borders or through misuse of visa. An important objective is to avoid the recurrence of tragedies at sea. When tragic situations unfortunately happen, ways should be explored to better record and, where possible, identify migrants trying to reach the EU.


6.2 Asylum: a common area of protection and solidarity

The European Council remains committed to the objective of establishing a common area of protection and solidarity based on a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for those granted international protection. While the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) should be based on high protection standards, due regard should also be given to fair and effective procedures capable of preventing abuse. It is crucial that individuals, regardless of the Member State in which their application for asylum is lodged, are offered an equivalent level of treatment as regards reception conditions, and the same level as regards procedural arrangements and status determination. The objective should be that similar cases should be treated alike and result in the same outcome.

6.2.1 A common area of protection

There are still significant differences between national provisions and their application. In order to achieve a higher degree of harmonisation, the establishment of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), should remain a key policy objective for the EU. Common rules, as well as a better and more coherent application of them, should prevent or reduce secondary movements within the EU, and increase mutual trust between Member States.

The development of a Common Asylum Policy should be based on a full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and other relevant international treaties. Such a policy is necessary in order to maintain the long-term sustainability of the asylum system and to promote solidarity within the EU. Subject to a report from the Commission on the legal and practical consequences, the European Union should seek accession to the Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol.


6.2.3 The external dimension of asylum

The EU should act in partnership and cooperate with third countries hosting large refugee populations. A common EU approach can be more strategic and thereby contribute more efficiently to solving protracted refugee situations. Any development in this area needs to be pursued in close cooperation with the UNHCR and, if appropriate, other relevant actors. The European Asylum Support Office should be fully involved in the external dimension of the CEAS. In its dealings with third countries, the EU has the responsibility to actively convey the importance of acceding to, and implementing of, the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees and its Protocol.

Promoting solidarity within the EU is crucial but not sufficient to achieve a credible and sustainable common asylum policy. It is therefore important to further develop instruments to express solidarity with third countries in order to promote and help building capacity to handle migratory flows and protracted refugee situations in these countries.

The European Council invites

• the Council and the Commission to enhance capacity building in third countries, in particular their capacity to provide effective protection, and to further develop and expand the idea of Regional Protection Programmes, on the basis of the forthcoming evaluations. Such efforts should be incorporated into the Global Approach to Migration, and should be reflected in national poverty reduction strategies and not only be targeting refugees and internally displaced persons but also local populations.

▪ the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission to encourage the voluntary participation of Member States in the joint EU resettlement scheme and increase the total number of resettled refugees, taking into consideration the specific situation in each Member State,

▪ the Commission to report annually to the Council and the European Parliament on the resettlement efforts made within the EU, to carry out a mid-term evaluation during 2012 of the progress made, and to evaluate the joint EU resettlement programme in 2014 with a view to identifying necessary improvements,

▪ the Council and the Commission to find ways to strengthen EU support for the UNHCR,

▪ the Commission to explore, in that context and where appropriate, new approaches concerning access to asylum procedures targeting main transit countries, such as protection programmes for particular groups or certain procedures for examination of applications for asylum, in which Member States could participate on a voluntary basis.


7.3 Continued thematic priorities with new tools

The European Council considers that the key thematic priorities identified in the previous strategy remain valid, i.e. the fight against terrorism, organised crime, corruption, drugs, the exchange of personal data in a secure environment and managing migration flows. The fight against trafficking in human beings and smuggling of persons needs to be stepped up.

Building on the Strategy for Justice, Home Affairs and External Relations adopted in 2005 and other relevant acquis in this field, such as the Global Approach to Migration, EU external cooperation should focus on areas where EU activity provides added value, in particular:

– Migration and asylum, with a view to increasing EU dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and transit in order to improve their capacity to carry out border control, to fight against illegal immigration, to better manage migration flows and to ensure protection as well as to benefit from the positive effects of migration on development; return and readmission is a priority in the EU’s external relations,


The European Council invites the Commission to

▪ examine whether ad hoc cooperation agreements with specific third countries to be identified by the Council could be a way of enhancing the fight against trafficking and smuggling of persons and making proposals to that end. In particular, such agreements could involve full use of all leverage available to the Union, including the use of existing financing programmes, cooperation in the exchange of information, judicial cooperation and migration tools.


7.5 Geographical priorities and international organisations


As regards the Union for the Mediterranean, it will be necessary to enhance the work started in the context of the Barcelona process and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, in particular regarding migration (maritime), border surveillance, preventing and fighting drug trafficking, civil protection, law enforcement and judicial cooperation. The European Council invites the Commission in cooperation with the High Representative to submit such a plan in 2010 and asks Coreper to prepare as soon as possible the decisions to be taken by the Council. The European Council will review the Plan by the end of 2012, and in particular to assess its impact on the ground.

As regards the situation in the Mediterranean area, the European Council considers that a stronger partnership with third countries of transit and origin is necessary, based on reciprocal requirements and operational support, including border control, fight against organised crime, return and readmission. Rapid action to face the challenges in this region is a priority.


The European Council notes that the 2007 EU-Africa Joint Strategy and Action Plan define the scope of cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking. Both within the EU-Africa Partnership on Mobility, Migration and Employment (MME) and the EU Global Approach to Migration, and the follow up process of the Rabat, Paris and Tripoli conferences, the dialogue on migration should be deepened and intensified with African Partners, focussing on countries along the irregular migration routes to Europe with a view to assisting those countries in their efforts to draw up migration policies and responding to illegal immigration at sea and on the borders. Efforts should be made to enhance cooperation, including the swift conclusion of re-admission agreements, with Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, and, in line with the European Council conclusions in October 2009, with Libya.

West Africa has recently developed into a major hub for drug trafficking from South America to Europe and will require enhanced attention and assistance to stem drug trafficking as well as other transnational crime and terrorism (within the Sahel).


Click here for full text.

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Frontex Issues Response to HRW Report (Communiqués)

Frontex has denied responsibility for and involvement in the Italian push-back practice.

Full text of the Frontex press release:

“By way of response to statements included in the Human Rights Watch report “Pushed Back, Pushed Around” Frontex would like to state categorically that the agency has not been involved in diversion activities to Libya (these are based on a bilateral agreement which Italy signed with Libya in May this year).

“The Frontex operation referred to in the report, Operation Nautilus 2009, was underway on June 18th 2009, but in a different operational area. Though German helicopters did participate in this operation, they were at no time involved in the incident described in the report (on the basis of two press reports, one from ANSA and one from Malta Today).

“In general, Frontex would like to point out that the task of helicopters involved in joint operations coordinated by the agency is only to patrol the operational area, not to divert. “

Click here for press release.

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Call for Applications for Study on Migration and Asylum in the Maghreb (Communiqués)

“The Euro-Mediterranean Network of Human Rights (EMHRN) wishes to launch a study on migration and asylum in the Maghreb countries. This study will be based on literature reviews and field studies to be undertaken in close cooperation with EMHRN’s member organizations working in the fields of human rights, migration and asylum.”

“The study should mainly analyze the legal and administrative framework applicable to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers (MRAS) in the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), with a particular interest on the impact of this framework on the protection of their rights. The research should, among other things, identify the main deficiencies (de jure and de facto) in terms of protecting the rights of the MRAS.”

The deadline for applications is 28 September 2009.

Click here and here for details.

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EC Call for Grant Proposals Relating to Mediterranean Migration Cooperation (Communiqués)

“The European Commission has issued a Call for Proposals providing €31 million for migration and asylum cooperation along Mediterranean migratory routes, covering partners in the ENPI South. (EuropeAid/128764/C/ACT/Multi)”

“The general objective of the thematic programme is to help third countries better manage all aspects of migratory flows in all their dimensions.”

“The programme … is designed in particular to:

  • foster the links between migration and development;
  • promote well-managed labour migration;
  • fight illegal immigration and facilitate the readmission of illegal immigrants;
  • protect migrants’ rights, protect them against exploitation and exclusion, and support the fight against trafficking in human beings;
  • promote asylum and international protection of refugees.”

“[T]wo of the programme’s six lots specifically involve Mediterranean Partner Countries.”

“Lot 1: Southern migratory routes (sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Mediterranean) has an indicative allocation of funds of €28.5 million, €14 million for 2009, and €14.5 million for 2010, subject to adoption of the 2010 budget.”

“The lot is broken down into five sub-lots as follows:

  • Sub-lot A (€10.5 million): Western African Route, including Maghreb, ECOWAS, CEMAC region and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • Sub-lot B (€9.5 million) Eastern African Route, including Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Yemen, Great Lakes Region
  • Sub-lot C (€5 million) Northern Africa region, in line with Albufeira conclusions
  • Sub-lot D (€2 million) Southern Africa region
  • Sub-lot E (€1.5 million) Promoting the contribution of the Diaspora to act in Africa as a development actor for this continent through the establishment of an African Diaspora platform for development”

“Grants requested for an action under the Call for Proposals must fall between €500,000 and €2 million. The planned total duration of an action may not be lower than 12 months nor exceed 36.”

“The deadline for submission of Concept Notes is 13 November 2009.”

Click here for full statement.

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UK-French Summit: Declaration on immigration (Communiqués)

Following a bi-lateral meeting, the UK and French governments have released a declaration regarding actions to be taken in regard to migrants seeking to enter the UK from the Channel and North Sea coast of France.

Excerpts from the Declaration:

“At bilateral level, the French and British governments undertake to: Systematise operational co-ordination in action against illegal immigration networks, especially by exchanging information, conducting joint cross-channel police operations, and working together upstream in Europe and countries of source and transit.  A joint intelligence centre charged with the exchange and operational use of information and intelligence, and the co-ordination of its tasking, will be established in Kent (United Kingdom) with a view to becoming operational by August 2009. …

“At European level, the French and British governments will act together to: … Strengthen the operational role of Frontex, in the spirit of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, especially through developing operational co-operation between Frontex and third countries, establishing joint European return flights and ensuring adequate resources.

“Initiate innovative forms of co-operation between the European Union, transit countries and the High Commissioner for Refugees, by building on the EU’s Regional Protection Programmes. …

“Develop co-operation with third countries, of origin or transit, and with a specific focus on key North and West African countries, including through co-development and capacity-building measures as well as conclusion and implementation of readmission agreements, within the Global Approach to Migration that represents the European Union’s roadmap according to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum….

“The administrative arrangement [is] signed today by the Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development, for the French government, and by the Home Office Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, for the British government….”

Click here for full English text.

Click here for the French text: Déclaration franco-britannique sur l’immigration.

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European Council Summit Conclusions (18/19 June 2009) (Communiqué)

Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council (18/19 June 2009)

Key points from the Summit document:

  • Affirmed need to strengthen efforts to prevent illegal immigration at the southern maritime borders;
  • Called for a response consistent with the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum and the Global Approach to Migration;
  • Called for coordination of voluntary measures for internal reallocation of “beneficiaries of international protection” present in Member States exposed to disproportionate pressures;
  • Welcomed Commission’s plan for pilot project for Malta; and
  • Called for agreement with the European Parliament to allow the rapid establishment of the European Asylum Support Office.


“In the midst of the deepest global recession since the Second World War the European Council again demonstrated the Union’s determination to rise above present difficulties and to look to the future by taking a series of decisions intended to meet, rapidly and effectively, a wide range of challenges. [***]

“European leaders expressed great concern at the dramatic situation in the Mediterranean area and agreed on a number of measures in order to help the Member States in the frontline to respond to the influx of illegal immigrants and to prevent further human tragedies. [***]

“IV. Illegal immigration

“36. Recent events in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta underline the urgency of strengthening efforts to prevent and combat illegal immigration in an efficient manner at the EU’s Southern maritime borders and thus prevent future human tragedies. A determined European response based on firmness, solidarity and shared responsibility is essential, in line with the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum and the Global Approach to Migration. Their implementation must be stepped up, in particular as concerns cooperation with countries oforigin and transit. All activities in the Western Mediterranean region and at the Eastern and South-Eastern borders need to continue.

“37. In view of the present humanitarian emergency, concrete measures need to be quickly put in place and implemented. The European Council calls for the coordination of voluntary measures for internal reallocation of beneficiaries of international protection present in the Member States exposed to specific and disproportionate pressures and highly vulnerable persons. It welcomes the intention of the Commission to take initiatives in this respect, starting with a pilot project for Malta. It urges the Council and the European Parliament toreach agreement allowing for the rapid establishment of the European Asylum Support Office.  The European Council also underlines a need for strengthened border control operations coordinated by FRONTEX, clear rules of engagement for joint patrolling and the disembarkation of rescued persons, and increased use of joint return flights. In this context it calls for strong action to fight effectively against organised crime and criminal networks involved in trafficking of human beings.

“38. The European Council underlines the need for a significant strengthening of the cooperation with the main countries of origin and transit. It invites the Commission to explore concrete cooperation with third countries in line with earlier mandates adopted by the Council. The effectiveness of the EU’s readmission agreements need to be increased as part of the overall EU external policies. Concluding the negotiations on the EC readmission agreements with key countries of origin and transit such as Libya and Turkey is a priority; until then, already existing bilateral agreements should be adequately implemented.

“39. The European Council urges the Council to take the above fully into account when preparing the new multi-annual framework programme in the area of Freedom, Justice and Security. The European Council invites the Commission to submit further proposals to the next meeting of the European Council, based on an appropriate response to these problems. [***]”

Click here for full document.

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