Tag Archives: European Commission

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.

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MEPs Express Concern Over Possible Changes to Schengen Rules

According to an EP press release, during Monday’s LIBE meeting, MEPs expressed concern over the “Commission’s announcement that it is considering a temporary reintroduction of checks at the EU’s internal borders.”

From the EP press release:

“‘Schengen governance is suffering too much from inter-governmentalism’, said the Commission representative [at the LIBE meeting], adding that the Commission would table a communication on the issue on 4 May. The Commission paper will seek to ‘replace the unilateral re-introduction of border controls by a Community mechanism’. This would enable the Commission temporarily to impose checks at national borders, in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort.  [Click on this link [DRAFT 15-04-2011] for a draft version of the Commission Communication on Migration.]

‘The decision would be taken collectively, and not unilaterally as is now the case’, said the Commission representative, pointing out that, at present, Member States’ decisions to restore internal border checks cannot be challenged before the European Court of Justice.

‘Schengen should not be weakened’, said Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT), asking for ‘some precaution’ on this issue….

According to the Commission representative, the 4 May communication, to be unveiled ahead of the extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12 May and of the European Council in June, will provide a long-term perspective for migration policies.

The communication will focus on the management of the Schengen area and propose ways to improve the administration of the visa system. It will also address the common asylum system, which needs to overcome the current impasse in the Council, and the ‘security and mobility partnership’….

‘This is not a Schengen problem, this is a social problem’ to do with migration, said Birgit Sippel (S&D, DE), adding that ‘I am bothered about the timing’ of these requests by Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

The ‘Council is not willing to deal with migration’, added Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL). Concerning the reintroduction of border controls, she called for a clear definition of ‘temporary’. Franziska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE), asked ‘Which are the specific cases and who decides what is an emergency or not?’…”

Click here for EP press release.

Click on this link [DRAFT 15-04-2011] for draft version of the Commission Communication on Migration.

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Draft Commission Communication on Migration

[UPDATE 4 May 2011 – the FINAL Communication on Migration was released today.  Click here for Communication and click here for my updated post.]

The European Commission will consider and likely adopt a Communication on migration on Wednesday, 4 May.  Below are excerpts from a draft document which appears to have been under consideration as of 15 April.  The draft Communication  [DRAFT 15-04-2011] includes proposals for burden sharing under certain circumstances and “a mechanism [for the introduction of] a coordinated and temporary reintroduction of [internal EU border] controls. 

Excerpts from the draft:

“Table of Contents

1……….. Introduction

2……….. Crossing the borders

2.1…….. Coping with the crisis: the short-term measures

2.2…….. Border controls

2.3…….. Schengen governance

2.4…….. Preventing irregular immigration

3……….. Moving and living in an area without internal borders

3.1…….. Organised mobility

3.2…….. A consistent policy on mobility including visas

3.3…….. A properly managed legal migration

3.4…….. Building an inclusive society by integrating immigrants

4……….. Providing international protection to persons in need

5……….. Migration in External relations beyond the crisis

5.1…….. The Global approach to migration

5.2…….. Beyond the crisis: the EU and the Southern Mediterranean in partnership

1.  Introduction

[***]

Some Member States, such as Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are more directly exposed to massive arrivals of irregular migrants and, to a limited extent, of persons in need of international protection. This is not a national problem alone, but needs also to be addressed at the EU level and requires true solidarity amongst Member States.

The EU must ensure quick assistance to all persons in need – as it has done notably at the Tunisian-Libyan border – and provide shelter to those in need of international protection. Whilst the EU must maintain and consolidate its tradition of granting asylum and protection it should also foresee the appropriate tools in order to prevent large number of economic migrants crossing the borders irregularly. To reach these objectives, managing effectively the EU borders is a condition of credibility inside and outside the Union.

The continuously evolving situation in our Southern Neighbourhood requires rapid responses. Building upon the European Council Conclusions of 11 and 25 March, 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 address the EU approach in the area of migration, mobility and security with the Southern Mediterranean countries.

However, the absolute 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. Dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and of transit of these migrants is essential. Such collaboration needs to be built on security and good governance for the establishment of mutually beneficial policies in the field of legal migration. It also implies enhanced economic cooperation in order to develop the conditions for growth and employment in the countries of origin, to address the causes of irregular migration and to promote a pact for development and well managed legal migration in its various forms.

[***]

2.1   Coping with the crisis: the short-term measures

[***]

Those Member States that are most exposed to the growing flows of refugees and irregular migrants have been helped with the financial consequences of the displacement. To this end, around 25 MEUR which were identified under the External Borders Fund and European Refugee Fund.

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.

The financial resources available under the General programme “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows” are inadequate to respond to all requests for assistance. First, these funds can not be mobilised easily; they are designed to intervene in a stable situation and not to tackle emergencies and crisis. Secondly, the magnitude of the problems largely exceeds the existing facilities.

In the context of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, will have to draw lessons from the current crisis. For the EU to react quickly and effectively in the case of unforeseen events or emergencies, Home Affairs funding should be adapted so that it can be mobilised much more rapidly and flexibly, including in third countries.

In principle, other forms of solidarity exist to respond to the dramatic events taking place in the region. 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 Directive 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 practical cooperation and technical assistance (e.g. via FRONTEX, EASO, joint operations).

Finally, as an important gesture of solidarity towards the North African countries (especially Tunisia) which are currently hosting large number of persons in need of international protection who cannot be returned to their countries of origin, and in order to maintain ‘protection space’ in these countries, it is important for EU Member States to accept to resettle some of these persons.

2.3  Schengen governance

[***]

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 response by the Union in these critical situations will increase trust among Member States. It will also reduce the need for unilateral initiatives by Member States to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls or to intensify police checks in internal border regions. However, even when such initiatives are taken within the limits set by the acquis, they inevitably slow down the crossing of internal borders for everyone. To be used as a last resort in truly critical situations, a mechanism may therefore need to be introduced allowing for a coordinated and temporary reintroduction of controls at one or several sections of the internal border. Such a mechanism would apply for a limited and pre-determined period of time, 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.

[***]”

Click on this link  “DRAFT 15-04-2011” for draft Communication.

Click here, here, and here for articles.

[UPDATE – 4 May 2011 – Click here for FINAL Communication and click here for my updated post.]

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Statement: European Commission’s response to the migratory flows from North Africa

The European Commission released a statement on 8 April summarising its actions.  Excerpts:

“[***]

Measures addressing the migration flows towards the European Union

Urgent measures already undertaken

The massive displacement of populations from several North African countries has been putting the protection and reception systems of some of the EU Member States, in particular in Italy and Malta, under increasing strain. The European Union has responded to these serious challenges in a rapid and effective manner with the aim of stabilizing the situation.

Frontex has deployed the Joint Operation EPN Hermes Extension 2011 to assist the Italian authorities in managing the influx of migrants from North Africa, most of whom have been arriving on the island of Lampedusa. This mission was launched on 20 February 2011, only four days after receiving the official request from the Italian authorities, a clear signal of solidarity between Member States. FRONTEX stands ready to continue the mission as long as it will be necessary, and to expand it, provided that Member States will make available the necessary staff, vessels and equipment. In view of the above the Commission is launching the necessary procedures for reinforcing the FRONTEX 2011 budget with an additional EUR 30 million.

Europol has also deployed a team of experts to Italy in order to help the national authorities to assist in detecting and preventing possible criminal of trafficking of human beings.

Regarding the financial needs linked with the displacement, the Commission’s four migration-related funds (the External Borders Fund, Return Fund, Refugee Fund and Integration Fund) are available to Member States. For example, Italy, one of the major beneficiaries of these funds, has been allocated €55 million for 2010 and €75 million for 2011. Moreover, the Commission makes available an additional €25 million of emergency funding which can be quickly mobilised under the External Borders Funds and European Refugee Fund.

What measures could be undertaken in the short-term?

Should the inflow of irregular migrants and possible refugees continue, the Commission envisages a number of short-term measures that might be taken.

Reinforcing Frontex

  • 1) The Joint Operation EPN HERMES Extension coordinated by FRONTEX could be considerably strengthened, with additional technical resources made available by Member States, and adequate financial resources.
  • 2) It is essential that FRONTEX is finally given a stronger operational mandate through a revision of its legal basis, which the Commission tabled in February 2010 (IP/10/184)
  • 3) FRONTEX should speed up negotiations to conclude working arrangements with the countries of origin and transit of irregular migration in the Mediterranean in the region (for example, with Egypt, Morocco and Turkey), and receive a mandate to negotiate similar working arrangements with other relevant countries (for instance Tunisia)

Resettlement of third country nationals

The continuous and possible increase in the flow of refugees (e.g. Somalis, Eritreans etc.), in need of international protection, coming from Libyan territory is an issue of major concern. The EU will not only continue to provide humanitarian assistance through its humanitarian office (ECHO), but it is also ready to offer through the European Refugee Fund financial support in view of facilitating the resettlement of persons in need of international protection. Resettlement represents not only a life-saving measure for the refugees concerned, but is also an important responsibility-sharing gesture towards the countries hosting them. Showing solidarity with the countries neighbouring Libya that are under pressure through resettlement can help to maintain ‘protection space’, as well as contributing to dialogue and cooperation on other issues of migration and border management.

The Commission has therefore been encouraging EU Member States to offer resettlement places, in a spirit of responsibility-sharing and in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A meeting was held with Member States on 25 March at which details of the most urgent needs were explained by the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), both of whom are actively engaged on the ground in the region.

The current crisis in the Mediterranean clearly demonstrates how imperative it is that the Council and the European Parliament make an effort to rapidly reach an agreement on the adoption of the Commission’s proposal for the establishment of an EU joint resettlement programme. This proposal would provide a structured basis for annual priority-setting, and linking those priorities with financial incentives, thereby encouraging more Member States to become involved in resettlement activities, and enhancing practical cooperation between Member States to that end.

Solidarity / Temporary Protection Directive

In the event of a massive inflow of persons who are likely to be in need of international protection, the Commission would expect Member States to demonstrate concrete solidarity with each other by directly assisting the States bearing the greatest burden. This could involve the relocation to other Member States of some persons seeking protection, or who have already received an international protection status.

Concrete assistance could likewise be provided by the newly-created European Asylum Support Office, one of whose central tasks is coordination of assistance to Member States whose asylum systems are under exceptional pressure. This could involve the deployment of so-called ‘asylum support teams’ to reinforce the capacities of a State to process asylum claims and to ensure appropriate reception conditions for asylum seekers.

The Commission would also be ready to consider proposing the use of the mechanism foreseen under the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC), if the conditions foreseen in the directive are met. Consideration could only be given to taking this step if it is clear that the persons concerned are likely to be in need of international protection, if they cannot be safely returned to their countries-of-origin, and if the numbers of persons arriving who are in need of protection are sufficiently great. Resort to this mechanism would allow for the immediate protection and reception in the territory of EU Member States for persons concerned, as well as offering a “breathing space” for the national asylum systems of the Member States most directly affected.

[***]”

Click here for full Statement.

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Frattini Criticises EU for Failure to Assist Italy; Frattini and MEPs Call for Implementation of Temporary Protection Directive and Mandatory Burden Sharing

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has again criticised what he describes as the EU’s and European Commission’s failure to assist Italy with the migrant situation in Lampedusa. Minister Frattini singled out Commissioner Malmström for his criticism.  A statement on the Italian Foreign Ministry web site says that “Italy continues to solicit Europe’s help in confronting the immigration emergency, not only in terms of economic aid but also in terms of a plan for the distribution of the refugees among Member States. ‘Europe has been totally inert in this period’, Minister Frattini asserted and, commenting on EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström[‘s] observation that Italy had already received European funding for managing the influx, specified: ‘This is the typical expression of a European bureaucracy that thinks money alone solves everything’, but it is not enough, ‘there need to be policy interventions’. …[I]n addition to funds it is necessary to ‘invoke a European law clearly establishing the adoption of an extraordinary plan with any sudden influx of refugees toward one or more Member States, which includes the distribution of the refugees among Members within the temporary timeframe necessary to repatriate those who are not refugees, as in the case of the Tunisians, who are simply economic immigrants’.”

MEPs Simon Busuttil (Malta) and Salvatore Iacolino (IT) issued a press release calling on the Commission “to activate the Solidarity Mechanism envisaged in EU law in cases of mass influx of displaced persons. … ‘EU law already provides for a solidarity mechanism that can be triggered in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons (Council Directive 2001-55-EC)’ [and ‘we call upon the Commission to activate it’] Busuttil and Iacolino said.”

Click here for Italian Foreign Ministry statement.

Click here for MEPs Busuttil and Iacolino press release.

Click here for link to Temporary Protection Directive.

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European Council Meeting Conclusions re Migrant and Refugee Flows from North Africa

While most of the European Council meeting of 24/25 March was devoted to economic policy and the Euro Zone crisis, the Council also considered the situation in Libya and the “Southern Neighborhood.”  The Council’s Conclusions noted that the Commission would be presenting “a Plan for the development of capacities to manage migration and refugee flows in advance of the June European Council.”  The Council conclusions also stated that “Agreement should be reached by June 2011 on the regulation enhancing the capabilities of Frontex. In the meantime the Commission will make additional resources available in support to the agency’s 2011 Hermes and Poseidon operations….”

Excerpts from the Council 24/25 March 2011 Conclusions:

“II. LIBYA / SOUTHERN NEIGHBOURHOOD

18. The European Council discussed the situation in Libya and endorsed the conclusions adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 21 March. Recalling its March 11 Declaration, the European Council expressed its satisfaction after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which expresses the principle of the responsibility to protect, and underlined its determination to contribute to its implementation. It also welcomed the Paris Summit of 19 March as a decisive contribution to its implementation…. [***]

21. The humanitarian situation in Libya and on its borders remains a source of serious concern. The EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to all those affected, in close cooperation with all the humanitarian agencies and NGOs involved. The EU has stepped up and will continue its planning on support for humanitarian assistance / civil protection operations, including by maritime means.  [***]

25. The European Council welcomes the recent visit of Presidency and the Commission to Egypt as part of a first phase of consultations to promote a comprehensive approach to migration as between the countries of the Southern Neighbourhood region and the European Union. In this context the European Council invites the Commission to present its proposals on the Global Approach to Migration as well as on the Mobility Partnership well in advance of the June European Council.

26. The European Council also looks forward to the presentation by the Commission of a Plan for the development of capacities to manage migration and refugee flows in advance of the June European Council. Agreement should be reached by June 2011 on the regulation enhancing the capabilities of Frontex. In the meantime the Commission will make additional resources available in support to the agency’s 2011 Hermes and Poseidon operations and Member States are invited to provide further human and technical resources. The EU and its Member States stand ready to demonstrate their concrete solidarity to Member States most directly concerned by migratory movements and provide the necessary support as the situation evolves.  [***]”

Click here for full document.

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ECRE calls on the EU to rescue sub–Saharan refugees trapped in Libya

Statement in full:

“Brussels, 3 March 2011. In a meeting today with Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, ECRE urged the European Commission to make an appeal to EU Member States to help evacuate and offer protection to the 4,000 sub-Saharan refugees who are trapped in Libya.

The international community is making important efforts to support the evacuation of Europeans, Egyptians, Tunisians and other foreigners. However, sub-Saharan refugees, mainly Somalis and Eritreans, are not able to get out of Libya to find safety. As de facto refugees, they cannot go back to their own countries, which they fled to save their lives. What is more, suspected of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries, they are being targeted and are at great risk if they try to reach the Egyptian or Tunisian border.

Bjarte Vandvik, ECRE’s Secretary General, said ‘Persecuted in their own country, persecuted now in Libya and unable to leave the country, sub –Saharan refugees need to be urgently evacuated to Europe’.

For further information

– ECRE, Appeal for Libya: NGOs call on European governments and the European Union to stand with them in helping people who are fleeing Libya

– ECRE, Safe haven for people fleeing bloodshed in Libya

– CIR, CIR launches an urgent appeal for the evacuation of Eritrean refugees in Tripoli

 

Click here for link to ECRE statement.

Click here (SV) for Commissioner Malmström’s short blog post regarding the meeting with ECRE.

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Live Coverage, 1 March, 09:00, LIBE Meeting re Situation in the Central Mediterranean

LIBE will reconvene today, 1 March, 09:00-10:30, to discuss “the situation in the central Mediterranean…. They will consider the democratisation process in the region and its impact on migration flows and EU immigration and asylum policy. In attendance: Hungarian Presidency representative, H.E. Peter Györkös, Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs and Ilkka Laitinen, Executive Director of Frontex, the EU border security agency.”

Click here for live coverage.

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JHA Council: Commission is Studying Different Funding Possibilities to Assist with Impact of Migratory Flows from North Africa

A Justice and Home Affairs press release summarizing today’s JHA Council meeting includes the following brief summary regarding the topic of migratory flows from North Africa:

“Over lunch, ministers discussed the situation in Northern Africa, and particularly the situation in Libya and the influx of migrants, above all from Tunisia to Italy. Since the beginning of the year, some 6000 immigrants have arrived mainly to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Following a formal request for help from the Italian Ministry of Interior, received on February 15, Frontex and Italy have started a Joint Operation in the central Mediterranean area on Sunday 20 February. Joint Operation Hermes 2011, originally planned to commence in June, was thus brought forward. Assets and experts for this operation were made available from a large number of EU member states. More information.  In addition to that, the Commission is studying different funding possibilities through various EU instruments, such as the European Refugee Fund, the European Return Fund and the European Border Fund.”

It is unclear whether the JHA Council will address this topic further tomorrow when the Council meeting resumes.

Click here for full JHA press release.

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Barroso Criticises Italy’s Use of Migration Issue to Not Support Democracy in North Africa

From the EU Observer:  “Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi is friends with Gaddafi…  Italy also has major oil, gas and arms interests in Libya and it fears a ‘biblical exodus’ of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants and refugees if Gaddafi snaps.  The head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on Wednesday made an implicit criticism of Italian policy. ‘This question of migration, or of illegal migration, or even of refugees, is sometimes used as a way of not supporting democracy and I do not agree with that,’ [Barroso] said after meeting a top UN human rights official in the EU capital.”

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

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EP Plenary Session on 15 Feb Will Consider the Question of “Immediate EU measures in support of Italy and other MS affected by exceptional migratory flows”

The agenda for the Tuesday, 15 February, plenary session of the European Parliament will include the following two items:

  • State of European asylum system, after the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights – Commission statement [2011/2579(RSP)]
  • Immediate EU measures in support of Italy and other Member States affected by exceptional migratory flows – Commission statement [2011/2582(RSP)]

These agenda items are scheduled to be considered at 16:00 or at the end of the preceding debate.

Click here for agenda.

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Italy and Malta Call for Extraordinary Meeting of EU Council to Discuss Mediterranean Migration Emergency

Italy has requested an extraordinary meeting of the Council of EU Heads of State to discuss the migration situation in Italy.  According to the EU Observer, “Hungarian [EU Presidency] sources told EUobserver that Budapest ‘will do all it can to accommodate the Italians,’ but the timing is tight, and it is far from certain whether other EU member states will view the situation the same way as Rome.”  The next regularly scheduled meeting of the EU justice and home affairs ministers who would ordinarily consider the situation and Italy’s requests for assistance is scheduled for 24-25 February.

Mario Mauro, MEP, Head of the Italian Delegation (PDL) of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, has also called upon Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, and EP President Jerzy Buzek to convene a meeting of the EU Heads of State within the next few days.  Mauro’s press release describes the situation as “an epic emergency comparable in intensity and scale to the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989” and further says that “[w]hat is happening in the Maghreb countries has to fully put into question the weakness of the EU Mediterranean Strategy. The European Commission’s solidarity initiatives or parliamentary debates will not be enough, nor will the prompt use of FRONTEX instruments. We must realise that history is making us face a challenge that has to be tackled with the same determination and the same resources used in recent years to stabilise Eastern European countries. Southern European countries should not be left alone to deal with this urgency.”

In the meantime, the Times of Malta reports that Tunisian security forces are expanding their efforts to secure the departure points in Tunisia.

Click here for MEP Mauro’s Press Release.

Click here and here for articles. (EN)

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WikiLeaks 2009 US Cable: EU-Libya Framework Agreement Hangs on ICC, Trade, Migration

This cable provides the views of the US Embassy in Tripoli as of July 2009 regarding the EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations.  A round of EU-Libya negotiations took place on 13-14 July 2009.  The cable was written by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires at the time, Joan Polaschik, and is titled:  “EU FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT HANGS ON ICC, TRADE, MIGRATION.”

According to the cable, Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala “railed against language stating that the [EU and Libya] agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations.”  Negotiations on migration issues however went more smoothly according to the cable: “the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations [on migration] were a ‘step forward’ and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Excerpts from the cable:

“1.(C/NF) Summary: The latest round of EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations hit snags over sensitive political issues and were slowed by Libya’s inefficient technical bureaucracy. The Libyans denounced the International Criminal Court and decreed that any language similar to the Rome Statute was off limits. Trade talks stalled when the Libyans announced that they had not examined the draft paper (presented in early 2009) and were unable to produce trade statistics from 2007/2008 or provide data on the Libyan tariff system. Talks on migration went more smoothly than expected, but significant issues remain before the agreement could be given to member states for approval. EU diplomats in Tripoli are skeptical that the EC will be able to get an agreement that can be implemented by both sides within the remaining two rounds of talks….

POLITICAL DIALOGUE: THE EC DANCES ON LIBYA’S ‘RED LINE’

2.(C/NF) Representatives of the European Commission (EC) based in Brussels conducted the latest round of Framework Agreement negotiations July 13-14 in Tripoli with sessions focused on political dialogue, trade and commerce, and migration. Diplomats from EU member states — participating as observers to the EC-Libya negotiations — said that discussions on the political framework were particularly heated. Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala railed against language stating that the two parties agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations. According to the UK embassy, nothing in the political dialogue paper is binding on either party and is merely agenda-setting for future discussions. EC negotiators were not/not pushing for Libya to accede to the ICC….

TRADE AND MIGRATION: HITS AND MISSES

4.(C) … On migration, the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations were a “step forward” and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Click here or here for the full Cable.

Click here for a post regarding an earlier US cable discussing the state of EU-Libya framework negotiations in 2008.

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EP Adopts Recommendation to Council on EU-Libya Framework Agreement

On 20 January 2011 the European Parliament adopted a slightly watered down recommendation to the Council regarding the negotiations on the EU-Libya Framework Agreement.  The adopted text is similar in most, but not all respects to the Draft Proposal prepared 23 November 2010 by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Rapporteur MEP Ana Gomes.  One substantive difference between the draft proposal and the final adopted text is a weakening of the language addressing the negotiation of the readmission agreement with Libya.  The final adopted text is also critical of the secrecy of the Council/Commission negotiations with Libya.

The Draft Proposal prepared by MEP Ana Gomes in Nov. 2010 called for an end to negotiations on the readmission agreement with Libya given the poor human rights conditions in Libya.  (Click here (pdf) or here for ECRE interview with MEP Gomes.)  The final text eliminated the call for an end to negotiations on readmission and replaced the language with a call for the respect of the rights of persons subjected to a future readmission agreement.

The Draft Proposal’s language stated:

“(d)  [the Council is urged] to cease pursuing a readmission agreement with Libya, as sending individuals back to a country with a record of continuous human rights violations and the use of the death penalty would be in breach of EU legal obligations;”

The final adopted text now states:

“(d)  [the Council and the Commission are reminded] of their obligations to ensure full compliance of the EU’s external policy with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, particularly its Article 19, which prohibits collective expulsion and grants the principle of ‘non-refoulement’;

[***]

(f)  [the Council and the Commission are urged] to ensure that a readmission agreement with Libya could only be envisaged for irregular immigrants, excluding therefore those who declare themselves asylum-seekers, refugees or persons in need of protection, and reiterates that the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ applies to any persons who are at risk of the death penalty, inhumane treatment or torture;”

The final adopted text is critical of the secrecy surrounding the Commission’s negotiations with Libya:

“(a) [The Parliament] [n]otes the recent Council decision to finally allow a limited number of Members of Parliament to read the mandate given to the Commission to negotiate a Framework Agreement between the EU and Libya; regrets however the delay in this decision and calls for the EP to be granted access to the mandates of all international agreements under negotiation, in accordance with Article 218(10) TFEU, which states that Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure;”

The final text urges the Council and Commission to take steps to encourage Libya to ratify and implement various international agreements and to allow the UNHCR to work within the country.  For example, the Council and Commission are urged-

  • “to strongly recommend that Libya ratify and implement the Geneva Convention on Refugees of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, including full cooperation with UNHCR so as to guarantee adequate protection and rights for migrants, and adopt asylum legislation that recognises refugees‘ status and rights accordingly, notably the prohibition of collective expulsion and the principle of ’non-refoulement‘;”
  • “to request that the Libyan authorities sign a Memorandum of Understanding granting UNHCR a legal presence in the country, with a mandate to exercise its full range of access and protection activities;”
  • “to encourage Libya to fully respect its pledges given when acceding to the UNHRC and thus urges Libya to issue standing invitations to those appointed under UN special procedures such as the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as well as the Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances and the Working Group on arbitrary detentions, as requested in the recent Universal Periodic Review on Libya; calls in the same spirit for unfettered access to the country for independent scrutiny of the overall human rights situation;”

Click here for final adopted text.

Click here for draft proposal.

Click here for link to EP’s Procedure File – Negotiations on EU-Libya Framework Agreement.

Click here (pdf) or here for ECRE interview with MEP Ana Gomes.

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Filed under Analysis, European Union, Libya, News, UNHCR

Commission Issues New “EU Internal Security Strategy”

Earlier today the Commission released a Communication entitled “The EU Internal Security Strategy in Action.” The Communication to the EP and Council contains 41 proposals in five general areas: organised crime, terrorism, cybercrime and cyber security, border management, and crises and disasters.  It contains a strategy which is described as an effort to identify, explain, and coordinate what the EU seeks to achieve in the area of internal security.  The accompanying Commission Press Release quotes Commissioner Malmström as stating that “EU internal security has traditionally been following a silo mentality, focusing on one area at a time. Now we take a common approach on how to respond to the security threats and challenges ahead. Terrorism, organised, cross-border and cyber crime, and crises and disasters are areas where we need to combine our efforts and work together in order to increase the security of our citizens, businesses, and societies across the EU. This strategy outlines the threats ahead and the necessary actions we must take in order to be able to fight them….”

Here are several excerpts (with some footnotes omitted) from Objective Number 4 entitled “Strengthen security through border management”:

“[***] In relation to movement of persons, the EU can treat migration management and the fight against crime as twin objectives of the integrated border management strategy. It is based on three strategic strands.

  • An enhanced use of new technology for border checks (the second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS), the entry/exit system and the registered traveller programme);
  • an enhanced use of new technology for border surveillance (the European Border Surveillance System, EUROSUR) with the support of GMES security services, and the gradual creation of a common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain [25 Commission communication, ‘Towards the integration of maritime surveillance: A Common information environment for the EU maritime domain’, COM (2009) 538 ]; and
  • an enhanced coordination of Member States through Frontex.

[***]

Action 1: Exploit the full potential of EUROSUR

The Commission will present a legislative proposal to set up EUROSUR in 2011 to contribute to internal security and the fight against crime. EUROSUR will establish a mechanism for Member States’ authorities to share operational information related to border surveillance and for cooperation with each other and with Frontex at tactical, operational and strategic level. [27 Commission proposals for the development of the EUROSUR system and for the development of a common information sharing environment (CISE) for the EU maritime domain are set out in COM (2008) 68 and COM(2009) 538 respectively. A six step road map for establishing the CISE was recently adopted – COM(2010) 584.]  EUROSUR will make use of new technologies developed through EU funded research projects and activities, such as satellite imagery to detect and track targets at the maritime border, e.g. tracing fast vessels transporting drugs to the EU. In recent years, two major initiatives on operational cooperation at the maritime borders have been launched – one on human trafficking and human smuggling under the umbrella of Frontex and the second on drugs smuggling in the framework of MAOC-N [28 MAOC-N – Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics] and CeCLADM. [29 CeCLAD-M – Centre de Coordination pour la lutte antidrogue en Méditerranée.]

As part of the development of integrated and operational action at the EU’s maritime border, the EU will launch in 2011 a pilot project at its southern or south-western border, involving those two centres, the Commission, Frontex and Europol. This pilot project will explore synergies on risk analysis and surveillance data in common areas of interest concerning different types of threats, such as drugs and people smuggling. [30 This project will complement the other integrated maritime surveillance projects such as BlueMassMed and Marsuno, which aim to optimise the efficiency of maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic and the northern European sea basins.]

Action 2: Enhancing the contribution of Frontex at the external borders

[***] From 2011 onwards, the Commission, with joint input from Frontex and Europol, will present a report by the end of each year on specific cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, human smuggling and smuggling of illicit goods. This annual report will serve as a basis for assessing the need for Frontex and its joint operations and joint operations between police, customs and other specialised law enforcement authorities to be carried out from 2012 onwards. [***]”

Click here for the complete Commission Document.

Click here for Commission’s Press Release.

Click here for the Feb 2010 Council Draft Internal Security Strategy.

Click here (SW) for comments on Commissioner Malmström’s blog.

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