Tag Archives: European Parliament

ALDE: EU must be fully prepared for dealing with migrants fleeing persecution in Libya

ALDE issued a press release earlier today.  Excerpts:  “[T]he European Union must seek urgently prevent a humanitarian disaster but also prepare a contingency plan for the possible mass flux of refugees fleeing the country and seeking temporary sanctuary across the Mediterranean. Renate Weber MEP (PNL, Romania), Liberal Group spokesperson on the Justice and Home Affairs committee commented: ‘[***] It is appalling that while thousands of people are being killed, the EU is failing to show the unity and determination to force Gaddafi out due to some EU governments’ reluctance to jeopardise lucrative business deals with Libya and fears of massive migrant flows. If we are faced with a large scale influx of Libyans seeking humanitarian protection then the EU and its Member States will have to apply EU values and laws in force governing such circumstances, including international conventions, related to the protection of the life and the rights of refugees.  Art. 78.3 of the Treaty, specifically provides for the granting of temporary protection and provisional measures in case of the sudden influx of migrants. Anything else would be a dereliction of our international duty.’”

Click here for full statement.


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Filed under European Union, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Statements

Frontex Begins Consultations for Emergency Joint Operation –2010 Frontex Sea Border Rule Should Govern Joint Operation

The European Voice reports that Frontex began consultations yesterday with member states to identify what equipment and personnel they will commit to a planned joint operation with Italy to deter migrants seeking to leave North Africa. “Naval vessels, surveillance aircraft and enhanced radar tracking are likely to be deployed….”

Assuming an emergency joint operation is deployed in the coming days, it may to some extent simply be a revival of Frontex’s Joint Operation Nautilus (slated to be renamed Operation Chronos).  Less than two weeks ago, on 4 February Malta for the second year running announced that it would not host or participate in Operation Nautilus this year due to the success of Italy’s push-back agreement with Libya which eliminated the movement of migrants in the Central Mediterranean.

Malta, however, also likely refused to host the Frontex mission due to the 2010 guidelines governing Frontex enforcement operations at sea which require that intercepted migrants be taken to the country hosting the Frontex mission under certain circumstances.  The validity of the Frontex sea border rule is currently under review by the European Court of Justice.  The legal challenge to the rule was brought by the European Parliament.  Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil initiated the challenge within the LIBE Committee.  It will be interesting to see what role Malta will be willing to play in any new emergency joint operation.  Even though the Frontex sea border rule is under review by the ECJ, the referral clearly requested the ECJ “to preserve the effects of the measure until a new legislative act has been adopted.”  The rule therefore remains in effect.

Click here for EV article.

Click here for the Council decision on the surveillance of  sea external borders (the Sea Border Rule).

Click here, here, here, here, and here for previous posts on the sea border rule and the ECJ challenge.

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

Video of Yesterday’s EP Plenary Session Addressing Common EU Asylum System and the Italian Migration Emergency

Of possible interest to a few, here are two links to the portions of yesterday’s plenary session of the European Parliament where the Common EU Asylum System and the migration emergency in Italy were discussed by a few MEPs and Commissioner Malmström.  As you can see from my screen shot below of the debate regarding the migration emergency, very few MEPs were in attendance.

Click here (Common EU Asylum System) and here (migration emergency) for link to the BBC’s Democracy Live site with the video.

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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia, Turkey

Text of Malmström’s Speech to EP Plenary Session

Commissioner Malmström spoke during the EP’s plenary session earlier this afternoon regarding the migration situation in Italy.  Click here for the text of her speech.


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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Mediterranean, Statements, Tunisia

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

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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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

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

EU Official Journal Notice re ECJ Challenge to Frontex Sea Border Rule

The European Court of Justice published a routine notice and summary in the Official Journal regarding the EP’s pending challenge to the validity of the Frontex rule regarding the surveillance of the sea external borders (Council Decision 2010/252/EU (“Frontex / Sea borders”)).

I reproduce the Notice here in full:

Action brought on 14 July 2010 — European Parliament v Council of the European Union

(Case C-355/10) (2010/C 246/58)

Language of the case: English


Applicant: European Parliament (represented by: M. Dean, A. Auersperger Matić, Agents)

Defendant: Council of the European Union

The applicant claims that the Court should:

— Annul Council Decision 2010/252/EU ( 1 ) of 26 April 2010 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code as regards the surveillance of the sea external borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union;

— Order that the effects of the Council Decision be maintained until it is replaced;

— order Council of the European Union to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

Parliament seeks the annulment of the contested Decision on the grounds that it exceeds the scope of the implementing power in Article 12(5) of the Schengen Borders Code ( 2 ) in that it introduces rules on ‘interception’, ‘search and rescue’ and ‘disembarkation’ which cannot be considered to be within the scope of ‘surveillance’ as defined by Article 12 of the Schengen Borders Code and which cannot be considered to be non-essential elements, and modifies the essential elements of the Schengen Borders Code which are reserved to the legislator. Moreover, the contested Decision modifies the obligations of the EU Member States relating to Frontex operations, which are laid down in the Frontex Regulation ( 3 ).  Should the Court annul the contested Decision, Parliament nonetheless considers it would be desirable that the Court exercise its discretion to maintain the effects of the contested Decision, in accordance with Article 264 (2) TFEU, until such time as it is replaced.

( 1 ) Council Decision of 26 April 2010 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code as regards the surveillance of the sea external borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union OJ L 111, p. 20

( 2 ) Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) OJ L 105, p. 1

( 3 ) Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 of 26 October 2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union OJ L 349, p. 1

Click here for link to EU OJ.

Click here and here for earlier posts on the case.


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Judicial, News

ECJ Invites Council to Submit Statement of Defence re EP Challenge to Frontex Sea Borders Rule

In an Order issued on 28 July, the European Court of Justice invited the European Council to submit a statement of defence in:  Case No. C-355/10, European Parliament v. Council of European Union (Application under Article 263 TFEU for annulment of Council Decision 2010/252/EU).

Here are the relevant portions of the Order (several footnotes omitted):

“1. By application under Article 263 TFEU, notified to the Council on 26 July 2010, the European Parliament asked the Court to annul Council Decision 2010/252/EU of 26 April 2010 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code as regards the surveillance of the sea external borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.

2. In support of its action for annulment, the European Parliament argues that the Council in adopting the contested decision exceeded the implementing powers set out in Article 12(5) of the Schengen Borders Code to adopt additional measures governing border surveillance.

3. The Council is invited to submit a statement of defence, in accordance with Article 40(1) and Article 81(2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice.


(Thank you to the editor at Blogging Portal.EU for bringing this new development to my attention – and now back to my vacation break.)

Click here for the full document from the ECJ.

Click here for previous post (with links to earlier posts).


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Judicial, Mediterranean

EP Refers Frontex Sea Borders Rule to ECJ

On 23 June the JURI committee (Committee on Legal Affairs) voted in camera to refer the question of the validity of the Frontex rule regarding the surveillance of the sea external borders to the European Court of Justice (Council Decision 2010/252/EU (“Frontex / Sea borders”)).  The referral requests the Court “to preserve the effects of the measure until a new legislative act has been adopted.”

Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil, the EPP Coordinator in the Civil Liberties Committee, was quoted as saying: “we have given notice to the Commission that not all is fine with these Frontex guidelines and it is time for a rethink. We want to ensure that Parliament’s role is defended and that we can have our say. We want these rules to be fair. In their current version they are not.”

Both the LIBE and JURI committees believe that the European Commission exceeded its power when it presented the new Frontex rule under the comitology procedure as opposed to using the ordinary legislative procedure which would have given the Parliament the ability to amend the rule.  Malta has strongly objected to provisions within the rule.  Malta has said that its decision not to host Frontex’s Central Mediterranean enforcement operation this year, Operation Chronos, was due to the disembarkation provisions contained in the new Frontex rule.  Malta believes that the rule would require intercepted migrants to be taken to Malta.

Click here for article.

Click here for statement on MEP Simon Busuttil’s web site.

Click here for EPP Group press release.

Click here and here for earlier posts.


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Judicial, Malta, Mediterranean, News

EP Seminar on Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings (10 June, Brussels)

NB – Registration to attend must be emailed by 16.00, Monday, 7 June.

“On Thursday 10 June 2010 LIBE will hold jointly with the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) a seminar on “Combating and preventing trafficking in human beings: the way forward” to have an exchange of views contributing to drafting a co-decision report by Anna HEDH (S&D, SE) (LIBE) and Edit BAUER (EPP, SK) (FEMM).”

“REGISTRATION – This Round Table meeting is open to the public. We would ask the participants to send their registration before Monday 7 June at 16.00.  For security reasons, participants who do not have a European Parliament access badge must obtain a pass in advance.  Please send the following information to the joint FEMM-LIBE mailbox: ip-femm-libe@europarl.europa.eu:

LAST NAME-First name-date of birth*-place of birth*-address*-company/institution/ organisation

It is essential to provide us with this information. Without it the Security Service will not provide entry passes. If you already have an entrance pass, indicate it in the e-mail. In this case the information marked with asterisk (*) is not needed.”

Click here for more information.

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Filed under Colloques / Conferences, European Union

LIBE Votes to Refer Frontex Sea Border Rules to JURI

At its meeting on 10 May, the LIBE committee voted to send a request to the JURI committee regarding the Council Decision pertaining to the procedures to be applied during Frontex surveillance and interdiction operations at sea.  The request asks the JURI committee to refer the Council Decision to the European Court of Justice on the procedural ground that the Council Decision should not have been dealt with as a comitology measure but instead should be grounded on a legal basis.

I have not yet been able to find a copy of the LIBE committee’s letter to JURI, but a video of the LIBE committee meeting can be found on the EP Multimedia Library here or here.  The vote and the brief discussion occurs at approximately 16:44 in the video.

Click here for an earlier post.


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Judicial, News

Maltese MEP Appointed EP Rapporteur on Review of the Frontex Regulation

The Malta Independent reports that Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil has been appointed the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the review of the law establishing the Frontex agency.  “As a rapporteur, Dr Busuttil will draw up the position of the European Parliament, including amendments to the proposal of the European Commission to change the agency’s legal framework. The changes must be agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.”

MEP Busuttil is quoted as saying: “If we want an internal EU area without borders then we should share the responsibility of protecting our external borders. Co-ordination of our air, land and sea borders must improve.”  “In Malta we know that Frontex has not performed up to our expectations and I am keen to use the Maltese experience in order to improve the agency where it did not work well.” “Nevertheless, I am mindful of the fact that this agency is not there just for the Mediterranean but for all of Europe and for all of Europe’s borders, including its air and land borders. I will therefore be taking a holistic approach.”

Click here for article.

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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Malta, News

MEPs Lambert and Iacolino on CEAS

MEP Jean Lambert (Green – UK) writes in New Europe in regard to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) that  the Greens “want to see a fair and efficient system which will deliver consistent and high quality decisions for those in need of protection. Amongst the major challenges at present are the inconsistencies across the EU in both the practical delivery of Member State’s asylum systems and the outcomes of their decisions. It would be fair to refer to the ‘European Asylum lottery’ when faced with statistics on the divergences in protection rates between Member States – 73.2 % of Iraqi applicants were granted subsidiary protection at first instance in Sweden in the first quarter of 2007 compared with 0% in Greece.”

Click here for full article.

MEP Salvatore Iacolino, Vice Chair of LIBE, (Christian Democrat – Italy) writes “we must ensure, on the one hand, access to efficient and streamlined procedures for persons seeking international protection, and, on the other, consistent application of rules in order to build mutual trust between Member States.  We cannot just think of a national dimension for the strategies for immigration and asylum, but it is essential to create a mechanism for equitable sharing of responsibilities.”

Click here for full article.

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Filed under European Union, Italy, News, UK

EP Vote Allows New Guidelines for Frontex Operations at Sea to Take Effect

New guidelines governing Frontex enforcement operations at sea will now take effect even though the European Parliament voted on 25 March to reject the guidelines by a vote of 336 to 253 with 30 abstentions.  However, an absolute majority of all EP Members, 369 votes, was required in order to block the new guidelines.

Malta opposes the new guidelines.  The Times of Malta reported that “the European Commission and Council have managed to get their way and will be able to introduce new rules of engagement during this year’s anti-migration patrol missions coordinated by Frontex as the resolution to reject these rules approved by the Civil Liberties Committee last week didn’t manage to garner the necessary support of the Socialist group in the EP.”

“According to the new rules, all irregular immigrants and asylum seekers saved on the high-seas during a Frontex mission have to be taken to the mission’s host country and not to the closer safe port. This means that if Malta hosts a Frontex mission in the future, as it has done in the past two years, it will have to take all the illegal immigrants found at sea. Malta has already declared that it will not continue to take part in Frontex missions under these rules.”

An EP press release stated that the “EU guidelines say[]that border patrols have a moral duty to rescue migrants in distress at sea….  The guidelines cover ‘search and rescue situations and for disembarkation’ in the context of operations on the EU’s sea borders.  They state that Member States fleets operating under FRONTEX must render assistance to persons in distress at sea, regardless of their nationality or status, or the circumstances in which that person is found…. Disembarkation procedures should be carried out in line with international law and existing bilateral agreements between Member States and third countries.”

Click here for article.

Click here for EP Press Release.

Click here, here and here for earlier posts on the new Guidelines.


Filed under Aegean Sea, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Malta, Mediterranean, News