Tag Archives: European Parliament

EP Civil Liberties Committee Rejects Rule on Frontex Operations at Sea

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has rejected proposed revisions to guidelines pertaining to Frontex enforcement operations at sea.  The vote was 24 votes against the proposed revisions and 11 in favour.  MEP Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), withdrew his name as rapporteur after the vote.

According to an EP press statement, “Civil Liberties Committee MEPs rejected the proposal Wednesday, on the grounds that although the guidelines are right to affirm the duty to search for and rescue migrants at sea, this duty should be enshrined in law, not mere guidelines.”

“[R]apporteur Michael Cashman … said that the measure would ‘bring a sense of certainty’ to Member States’ obligations to intercept, search and rescue.  What we do not want is last year’s situation’ where ‘two Member States didn’t want to deal’ with possible asylum requests, he said, arguing that with the proposed text, ‘the legal obligation to search and rescue will become something that Member States can no longer shirk’. The rapporteur’s opinion was backed by Council and Commission representatives.”

The EP press statement also said that “[t]he proposed act is the focus of a legal controversy. The European Commission says the act falls under its implementing powers granted by the Schengen Borders Code, whereas Civil Liberties Committee MEPs argue that it should be examined under the ordinary legislative procedure. … The European Parliament has repeatedly called for more parliamentary scrutiny over the FRONTEX external border agency’s activities, as watchdogs criticized its procedures as abusive vis-à-vis migrants. Another proposal being examined by Parliament aims to improve the training of FRONTEX agents in fundamental rights.”

The Times of Malta reported that “[d]uring the past few days MEPs were pressured by both the Commission and the Council to approve the new rules so that they could come into force before the start of the new Frontex patrols before summer. However [Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil, EPP’s coordinator for the Committee] insisted that the new rules were ‘ultra vires’ and that the Commission had overstepped its remit in their drafting.”

Click here for EP Press Statement.

Click here for article.

Click here and here for earlier posts on the proposed Guidelines.

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EP Report: “What system of burden-sharing between Member States for the reception of asylum seekers?”

At the beginning of March, a 200+ page report assessing the cost of asylum seekers on EU member states was released by the European Parliament’s Directorate General for Internal Policies, Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

The report is entitled: “What system of burden-sharing between Member States for the reception of asylum seekers?”

Excerpts from the Executive Summary:

“Background –  [***] Moreover, although asylum figures today are higher than in the mid 1980s, the number of asylum applications has not been steadily increasing as many assume. … There has been increased concern in tackling irregular migration among the European Member States, which has led to an increasing focus on preventing irregular migrants from reaching the EU. Consequently, joint efforts at border management, under the auspices of FRONTEX, have exposed grey areas in the international protection regime. For example, the extent of States’ responsibilities towards asylum seekers rescued or intercepted in international waters has been subject to debate. Operation Nautilus in 2008 illustrated the difficulties Member States face in agreeing on who should be responsible for asylum seekers amongst irregular migrants intercepted at sea. Member States have also been hampered by the lack of an agreed protocol to assign responsibility for any asylum seekers amongst the irregular migrants.

Some Member States, notably Malta, have protested at the uneven distribution of asylum seekers between EU Member States, and their experiences of particular pressures resulting from their geographical situation. Linked to this, European parliamentarians, NGOs, some Member States and other stakeholders have repeatedly pointed out that the Dublin system allocates responsibility for asylum seekers without attempting to share it equitably. The pressures on EU border countries have been a particularly contentious part of this discussion, but the discussion is not limited to these. In the last six years, Sweden has for example received 40% of the 100,000 Iraqis who have claimed asylum in the EU8….

Aim of the study – The current study aims to provide information and evidence to inform the ongoing debates. This is largely based on three overarching questions:

• What are the asylum related costs borne by Member States?

• Which of these costs could be shared at European level?

• How could these costs be shared? [***]

Key Findings

• Overall refugee numbers in Europe are relatively low. In 2007 Europe only hosted 14 per cent of the world’s refugees or people in refugee-like situations. In 2007 about 220,000 asylum applications were received within the EU27, only just over half the 2001-02 peak of over 420,000 asylum seekers, and about a third of the peak of 1992. This is equivalent to less than one asylum seeker per 2200 European inhabitants.

• The total size of asylum spending reported by Member States is relatively low. The total size of direct spending by each Member State has generally not been more than the equivalent of 1/14th of the international aid target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income. At €4,160m EU wide, these total asylum-related costs to EU Member States in 2007 are less than what UK citizens spent on pets and pet food in the same year….

• Some countries face disproportionately high asylum costs, with the share of asylum spending in relation to GDP being 1000 times higher in some Member States (e.g. Malta) than others (e.g. Portugal) in 2007. When cost of living is taken into account, the differences remain large….

• If no additional responsibility sharing measures are introduced and current proposals are not implemented, there will continue to be a highly uneven distribution of asylum costs and pressures across Europe. This study shows that there are critical differences between Member States and the costs they carry for receiving asylum seekers….

• Only physical relocation of asylum seekers will make a significant contribution to a more equitable distribution of asylum costs across Member States. If this is to avoid generating significant human costs and additional costs to the Member States, it is crucial that this is based on a voluntary relocation of the asylum seeker….”

Click here for the full report.

Click here for EP Press Service article about the Report.

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Malta’s MEP Will Try to Block EP’s Approval of Changes to Frontex Guidelines

“Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil has told the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee that the procedure used to draw up new [Frontex] guidelines for anti-immigration patrols are illegal and should not be approved. … The guidelines, recently approved by the EU Council despite the objections of Malta and Italy, need the EP’s consent to enter into force.

Intended to act as a new code of engagement for Frontex’s patrol missions, the regulations will place responsibility for rescued immigrants and asylum seekers on the country hosting the mission. … Frontex wants the new rules to come into force before the next anti-migration patrol mission off Malta, scheduled to start in April. However, the new position adopted by Dr Busuttil may derail the process….”

Click here for Times of Malta article.

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