Category Archives: France

Belgium Plans to Reintroduce Border Controls to Block Entry by Tunisians from Italy

Belgium announced earlier today at the conclusion of the JHA Council meeting that it plans to reintroduce border controls, joining France and Germany, in an effort to block the entry of Tunisian migrants granted temporary residency by Italy.  The announcement was made by Melchior Wathelet, Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration. Wathelet also suggested that Austria and the Netherlands , as countries of “final destination,” were supportive of the move to reintroduce border controls within the Schengen Area.

Click here (FR), here (NL), and here (FR) for articles.

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Filed under Belgium, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Malmström Tells Italy that Temporary Residence Permits Do Not Allow Free Movement in Schengen Area; Germany Threatens to Reinstate Border Controls

Commission Cecilia Malmström has notified Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni in a letter that the temporary residence permits being issued by Italy to Tunisian migrants will not automatically allow free movement within the Schengen area.  Over the weekend Germany joined France and said that it will consider instituting border controls to prevent the entry of Tunisians in possession of the temporary residence permits from entering German territory.

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

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Filed under European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

Frontex Will Not Participate in Joint Italian-French Naval Patrols Along Tunisian Coast

Frontex Director Ilkka Laitinen said at a Friday press conference that Frontex will not participate in the naval patrols that France and Italy have said they will carry out along the Tunisian coast in an effort to block the departures of migrant boats from Tunisia.  Laitinen said Frontex could not enter Tunisian territorial waters without a specific agreement with Tunisia and no such agreement exists.

A statement on the Italian Foreign Ministry web site seems to suggest that France and Italy are contemplating joint naval patrols along the North African coast in general, not just along the Tunisian coast: France and Italy will conduct patrols “on the North African coast, especially Tunisia, to stop the departures.”  (sulle coste nordafricane, in particolare quelle tunisine, per bloccare le partenze.)

Click here (IT) for article.

Click here (IT) for statement on Italian Foreign Ministry web site.

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Filed under France, Frontex, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

France and Italy Agree to Joint Naval Patrols Along Tunisian Coast to Block Migrant Departures

French and Italian Interior Ministers Claude Guéant and Roberto Maroni today have announced an agreement for “joint air and naval patrols” off the Tunisian coast to block departures from Tunisia. Guéant is quoted by Le Figaro as saying that the new measures would be carried out with assistance from Frontex, but the report is unclear whether he is calling for Frontex participation or announcing that Frontex will participate.

While there are no specifics details being reported about this agreement, it seems to constitute a new push-back practice where there will be little or no opportunity for asylum seekers or other persons of concern to be identified and afforded the protection to which they are entitled.  It is simply not possible to intercept vessels at sea and adequately identify who is on board an overcrowded migrant boat and assess whether international protection is needed by anyone on board.

Click here (FR), here (IT) and here (FR) for articles.

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Filed under France, Frontex, General, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

France Restores Border Controls at Italy-France Border to Block Entry by Tunisians

Growing numbers of Tunisians are arriving in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia (Vintimille), on the border with France, and are attempting to enter France.  3500 Tunisians have reportedly arrived in recent weeks.  Most of the newly arriving Tunisians appear to have passed through Lampedusa in recent weeks and were then relocated elsewhere in Italy to relieve the overcrowding on the island.  Many of the Tunisians arriving in Lampedusa have been very clear about their desire to continue on to France due to family or linguistic ties.

France has reinstituted some border controls in the area in an effort to block the entry of the Tunisians.  Additional controls are being instituted within French territory in Menton and Nice.  La Stampa reports that “[p]eople smugglers, who had largely disappeared when border checkpoints [in the Schengen area] were closed down, are now increasingly common. [Smugglers] seek out the migrants at the station [in Ventimiglia] and offer to take them to France…”  Le Point suggests that “by discretely allowing illegal immigrants to arrive in Ventimiglia, Italy is hoping that Europe will wake up and share the burden.  Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday criticised France for returning Tunisians to Italy after crossing the border, accusing France of a lack of solidarity.

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


Filed under European Union, France, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

Le Pen in Lampedusa: Migrants Should Be Stopped At Sea

Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s Front National, visited Lampedusa yesterday.  She was critical of the EU’s efforts to stop illegal migration and called for the use of bi-lateral agreements between Italy, France, and Spain and North African states to prevent migration.  She also suggested that migrants should be prevented from reaching European territory by being intercepted at sea, though in such cases humanitarian assistance in the form of food and water should be provided to the migrants at sea rather than on Lampedusa as is now the case.

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

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Filed under European Union, France, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

Marine Le Pen to Visit Rome and Possibly Lampedusa, to Denounce Lack of EU Migration Controls

Taking full advantage of her rise in the French presidential opinion polls (recent opinion polls give her 23-24% of the vote in the first round of the 2012 presidential election, outpolling Sarkozy and DSK among others), Ms. Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s Front National, announced that she will travel to Rome next week and, if possible, she will also visit Lampedusa for the purpose of denouncing what she characterises as a lack of EU migratory controls.  (“Lors de son déplacement [en Italie], elle entend dénoncer «l’incapacité de l’Union européenne à juguler le déferlement migratoire qui frappe l’île de Lampedusa» après la révolution tunisienne. La candidate FN à l’Élysée envisage également de se rendre ultérieurement sur l’île de Lampedusa. «Si je peux me rendre à Lampedusa, j’irai, bien sûr», a-t-elle assuré.”)

Le Pen has referred to the Tunisians who have reached Italy in recent weeks as “the vanguard of a new massive wave of immigration.”  (“d’«éclaireurs d’une nouvelle vague migratoire gigantesque».”)  Her official web site contains an updated press release on the situation in Lampedusa: “Lampedusa : pendant que les clandestins sont accueillis, le maire est poursuivi !”

Click here (FR) for article.

Click here (FR) for link to Le Pen’s web site.

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Filed under European Union, France, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

Annual number of asylum applications in select countries, 2004-2009

From Migration Policy Institute’s MPI Data Hub: annual number of asylum applications in select countries.  I copied the data for years 2004-2009 below.  Click here for the data for the years 1980-2009, footnotes, and source information.

Countries of destination 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Australia 3,201 3,204 3,515 3,980 4,771 6,170
Austria 24,634 22,461 13,349 11,921 12,841 15,830
Belgium 15,357 15,957 11,587 11,114 12,252 17,190
Canada 25,750 20,786 22,868 27,865 34,800 33,250
Denmark 3,235 2,260 1,918 1,852 2,360 3,750
Finland 3,861 3,574 2,324 1,505 4,016 5,910
France 58,545 49,733 30,748 29,387 35,404 41,980
Germany 35,613 28,914 21,029 19,164 22,085 27,650
Greece 4,469 9,050 12,267 25,113 19,884 15,930
Ireland 4,765 4,325 4,315 3,985 3,866 2,690
Italy 9,722 9,548 10,348 14,057 30,324 17,600
Netherlands 9,782 12,347 14,465 7,102 13,399 14,910
Norway 7,945 5,402 5,320 6,528 14,431 17,230
Spain 5,535 5,254 5,297 7,662 4,517 3,000
Sweden 23,161 17,530 24,322 36,373 24,353 24,190
United Kingdom 40,620 30,815 28,335 27,880 31,315 29,840
United States 44,972 39,240 41,101 40,449 39,362 38,968

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Filed under Australia, Belgium, Data / Stats, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, United States

Most EU States View Italy’s Concerns Over Refugee Threat As Grossly Exaggerated

The JHA Council yesterday rejected Italy’s call for a stronger EU response to what it describes as an impending migrant flow from North Africa consisting of hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers.  Several EU governments described the Italian request as one that was based on exaggerated fears.  Hungary’s interior minister, Sandor Pinter, told reporters that “we shouldn’t paint the devil on the wall until he appears.”  German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said “we shouldn’t be painting horror figures and encouraging refugees to come to Europe.”  Another accused Italy of “crying wolf.”

IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya said that while Italy should not shoulder a refugee burden on its own, no Libyans have arrived in Italy to date and she rejected the Italian estimates:  “I don’t think in any shape or form you are going to see one-and-a-half million migrants suddenly flood into Europe.  That is really not going to happen at all.  That would really be fear mongering to the extreme.”

Italy has done itself and neighbouring countries a disservice by repeatedly speaking of an “exodus of biblical proportions” and by suggesting that many hundreds of thousands of migrants are poised to take to the sea to try to reach Italy and Malta from Libya.  These estimates are in all likelihood grossly exaggerated.

But even if you agree that Italy’s feared numbers are exaggerations, the fact that no irregular migrant or asylum seeker has apparently yet left Libya by sea is not at all surprising.  Libya is in chaos and few people are likely to try to depart the country by sea until the level of violence begins to diminish.  Libya has (or had) a functioning network of human traffickers and they will be ready to begin exploiting the chaos and to take advantage of desperate people seeking to flee at some point in the future.  If Gaddafi manages to remain in power, once he is no longer concerned with his personal survival, his thoughts will at some point turn to revenge.  Libya will presumably cease cooperating with Italy on the bi-lateral pushback practice, and Gaddafi will tolerate or encourage irregular migration towards Europe.  So Italy is correct in that there is a real threat of significant numbers of migrants and asylum seekers leaving from Libya some time in the near future.  The numbers could easily and quickly surpass the 6,000 who have left Tunisia for Lampedusa.  Could the numbers surpass 30,000?  30,000 asylum seekers entered Sweden last year (population 9 million – Italy’s population is 50+ million) and Sweden has not received any extraordinary EU assistance as a result.  Could the numbers exceed the hundreds of thousands that fled the Balkan wars in the 1990s?  Possible, but probably not very likely.

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


Filed under Cyprus, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia

Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Cyprus Call for Redistribution of Asylum Seekers

The Ministers of the Interior of Italy, France, Spain, Malta and Cyprus met in Rome on Wednesday in advance of today’s JHA Council meeting and agreed to ask the EU for assistance in regard to the expected flow of migrants from North Africa.  The Ministers will call for the creation of a special EU fund to provide financial support to the frontline states directly affected by significant numbers of migrants and for the redistribution or relocation of asylum seekers among all EU member states so that the states of first arrival do not experience an unfair burden.  Michele Cercone, spokesperson for Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, noted that current European standards do not provide a mechanism for the redistribution between member states of migrants seeking asylum, other than on a voluntary basis.

Click here (IT) for article.

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Filed under Cyprus, European Union, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Spain, Tunisia

32% of Libya’s 2009 Oil Exports Went to Italy

From the US Energy Information Administration:

2009 Libyan Oil Exports:  “With domestic consumption of 280,000 bbl/d in 2009, Libya had estimated net exports (including all liquids) of 1.5 million bbl/d. According to 2009 official trade data as reported to the Global Trade Atlas, the vast majority of Libyan oil exports are sold to European countries like Italy (425,000 bbl/d), Germany (178,000 bbl/d), France (133,000 bbl/d), and Spain (115,000). With the lifting of sanctions against Libya in 2004, the United States has increased its imports of Libyan oil. According to EIA estimates, the United States imported an average of 80,000 bbl/d from Libya in 2009, up from 56,000 bbl/d in 2005 but, as a result of the U.S. economic downturn and subsequent decline in oil demand, 2009 levels were below 2007 highs of 117,000 bbl/d.”

Click here for link.

(HT to tweet by @johnwilcockson)

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Filed under Data / Stats, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Spain

Times of Malta: Frontex Preparing for “Unprecedented” Migrant Flow from Libya

The Times of Malta reports today that Frontex “has been given instructions to start preparing for a possible unprecedented influx of immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing Libya towards the EU, particularly through Malta and Lampedusa.” “‘The fact that the Libyan regime does not seem to be in control of the huge expanse of the 2,000-km long Libyan coastline might already pose a big danger of a flood of asylum seekers crossing by rogue boats towards Malta, Lampedusa and Sicily,’ the sources said.”  According to the article the planned response to a massive flow would involve all 27 member states.  EU spokesman for Home Affairs Michele Cercone confirmed that Frontex was engaged in planning for a migrant flow from Libya, but said he would not “speculate on details and suppositions.”  The article also states that “six EU Mediterranean member states [Malta, France, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, and Italy] will meet in Rome tomorrow in an urgent minisummit to devise a common stance on the immigration crisis facing the southern Mediterranean region, a day before official talks of EU justice ministers in Brussels.”

Click here article.

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Filed under Cyprus, European Union, France, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Spain

Frontex’s Role to be One of Coordination

Consistent with its mandate and standard practice, Frontex’s role in the new Central Mediterranean joint operation will be one of coordination.  According to DI-VE, “[i]n the current situation, [Frontex] foresees its main role as coordinating border guards from among the member states, particularly with regard to second-line experts in the screening and debriefing of irregular migrants as well as in coordinating an appropriate operational response to the humanitarian needs in the area. In addition, the agency is investigating the most optimal means by which to adapt a range of technical assets engaged in sea border operations in the Mediterranean to the needs of the Italian authorities.”

Click here for article.

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Frontex Central Mediterranean Operation Likely to Begin Within Days; Dutch to Send Coast Guard Plane to Lampedusa; France and Spain Likely to Deploy Planes or Ships

The Dutch government has decided to deploy a Coast Guard surveillance plane to Italy to participate in the new Frontex joint operation.  The Dutch decision was announced by Immigration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers on Friday.  The plane and two Dutch border guards are scheduled to be deployed for at least six weeks beginning 21 February.

The Financial Times reports today that the Frontex joint operation may be operational early next week and that details are being finalised at a meeting that is taking place today in Rome between European Commission and Italian officials.  According to the FT article, one topic under discussion is the situation in Libya and the possibility for a larger wave of migrants should the situation in Libya become more unstable or should Gaddafi’s government collapse.

Click here (EN) (FT registration may be required), here (NL), here (NL), and here (EN) for articles.

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Call for papers–Workshop: Administrative actors and immigration professionals: articulating national, European and international dynamics (AFSP, SciencesPo/CEE)

A workshop, “Administrative actors and immigration professionals: articulating national, European and international dynamics,” sponsored by the public policy group of the Association Française de Science Politique and the Centre d’études européennes (Sara Casella-Colombeau and Nora El Qadim, Sciences Po/CEE) will be held 6-7 June at Sciences Po, Paris.

Call for papers – Submission details:  Proposals with a comparative dimension will be of particular interest. They can be on European or international cases. Working languages: French and English.  Deadline for proposals (no longer than 500 words): March 1st, 2011.  Abstracts (with name and institution) should be sent to the organizers:

From the announcement:

“Studies of migration policies “in the making” and their administrative actors have largely contributed to a revitalization of social sciences in the field of migration studies [Ellerman 2009 ; Laurens 2009 ; Spire, 2005 ; Weil 1991].  By focusing their work on the trajectories and practices of administrative actors, studies have highlighted the fundamental role played by these actors at various levels. From decision to implementation, they are the ones carrying out immigration policies, fashioning and shaping their evolution. Moreover, several authors have focused on the genesis and development of these policies at the supranational – in this case European – level [Guiraudon, 2000, 2003; Boswell, 2008, 2009]. However, analyses that attempt to link these various levels are scarce.

The objective of this workshop is to study the dynamics and mechanisms of migration policies involving the national, European and/or international levels. The purpose is to widen the perspective on migration policies by bridging approaches that generally centre on the national level and studies which emphasize the European integration or international dynamics….

This workshop will examine this theme from three main axes:  1. A first axis will look at bureaucracies in destination countries….;  2. A second axis will focus on the administrations related to migration policies in origin or transit countries….; 3. Finally, the third axis will focus on the international governance of migration flows, and on the appearance and reinforcement of an international bureaucracy of migration….”

(as noted on Migration Law by Egle Dagilyte.)

Click here (EN) or here (FR) for the announcement.

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Filed under Colloques / Conferences, European Union, France