Tag Archives: EUROSUR

Satellite Imagery Used by Frontex to Detect and Rescue Migrant Boats

While the use by Frontex of satellite imagery is not new, Frontex released a copy of a satellite image used last week to detect and rescue 370 people on Eurosur Fusion Services imageryboard three inflatable boats off the Libyan coast. (It is unclear whether the image made available by Frontex shows the actual spatial resolution available to Frontex.)

According to Frontex, the imagery is part of “Frontex’s Eurosur Fusion Services … made possible by the cooperation between experts at Frontex and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Italian authorities and EUNAVFORMED. … The Eurosur [fusion] services already include automated large vessel tracking and detection capabilities, software functionalities allowing complex calculations for predicting positions and detecting suspicious activities of vessels, as well as precise weather and oceanographic forecasts. Fusion Services use optical and radar satellite technology to help locate vessels at sea. Recent upgrades of their technical capabilities make it possible to spot smaller vessels.”

Frontex has used satellite imagery for years, for example in 2008 during Frontex Operation Hera off Mauritania, Amnesty International reported that satellite photos would be presented to Mauritanian authorities to demonstrate that migrants on board a particular migrant boat had departed from Mauritania territory. (Amnesty International, “Mauritania: ‘Nobody Wants to Have Anything to Do With Us,’ Arrests and Collective Expulsions of Migrants Denied Entry Into Europe,” 1 July 2008.)

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“Mediterranean flows into Europe: Migration and the EU’s foreign policy” – Analysis by European Parliament DG for External Policies

The EP’s Directorate-General for External Policies just released an Analysis, “Mediterranean flows into Europe: Migration and the EU’s foreign policy,” in which it reviews the EU’s external policies and instruments relating to migration in the Mediterranean, including the Mediterranean Task Force established after 3 October 2013 tragedy at Lampedusa in which over 350 people died.

The Analysis describes the serious shortcomings of the security-driven approach that has been taken by the EU. Noting, for example, that “it is unclear whether the militarisation of EU border management (resulting from a tighter relation between the CSDP and Frontex) will actually save lives or create even more danger for migrants” and that “[t]he increasing militarisation of the issue of irregular migration was underscored in December 2013, when the European Council called for the establishment of an EU Maritime Security Strategy by June 2014 as well as for increased synergies between the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and freedom/security/justice actors to tackle illegal migration.”

The Analysis discusses possible ways in which the European Parliament might play a more significant role in the shaping of future policies:

“The coming months – which will include the European elections and the June 2014 Council – present an important opportunity for the EP to engage politically with the topic of migration in the Mediterranean. As outlined above, numerous EU external policies and instruments deal with migration in the region; […]

All should incorporate respect for human rights as a central concern and pursue the overall goals of prevention, protection and solidarity. The EP has tools at hand to contribute effectively to those objectives. The EP should use its co-decision powers to ensure the inclusion of human rights provisions in all migration-related legislation, and its power of consent to guarantee that international agreements contain effective human rights guarantees. The EP’s budgetary powers also allow the institution to link assistance to third countries to proper human rights monitoring mechanisms.

Most pressingly, the EP should advocate the implementation of the actions recommended by the Mediterranean Task Force set up by the Commission. The EP should also use the opportunities generated by inter-parliamentary relations (such as the 27th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in March and the EU-Africa summit in April) to engage in a dialogue about migration with third countries. This dialogue should foster cooperation in the management of regular migration and in the fight against irregular migration and trafficking networks, with special emphasis on the need to prevent migrants from embarking on dangerous journeys to the EU.

The dialogue should also seek to frame Mediterranean migration within a wider perspective, possibly in the following ways:

  • Steer away from excessively militarised and security-centred approaches. The EP should ensure that strict human rights standards are respected in the fight against organised crime and smugglers’ networks, and that a clear distinction is drawn between criminal networks and their victims. The EU should prevent the criminalisation of migrants and of humanitarian organisations supporting migrants.
  • Highlight the importance of good governance, and of good migration governance more specifically. By reinforcing the EU’s Regional Development and Protection Programmes, for example, the Union can develop a comprehensive and long-term framework to develop and enhance the capacities of migration management and national asylum systems in Mediterranean countries.
  • Demand full respect for humanitarian law, refugee protection and human rights (including the rights of non-nationals) in crisis situations, and stress that humanitarian access must be guaranteed to provide life-saving supplies.
  • Recognise the importance and challenges that South-South and intra-African migration represent for countries in the southern Mediterranean, rather than focussing solely on the (much smaller) flows towards the EU.
  • Encourage further research on the migration-development nexus and explore the positive impact of human mobility on socioeconomic development.
  • Encourage EU Member States to facilitate and speed up their procedures to grant asylum and EU protected status, whilst better differentiating between refugees and irregular migrants. The EP should respect the competence of the Member States in this regard, but could also encourage Member States – in cooperation with the UNHCR – to increase their quotas for resettling refugees not adequately protected in third countries. The EP should support the Mediterranean Task Force’s proposed feasibility study on the joint processing of protection claims outside the EU, and the Commission’s proposal to move towards a common approach for humanitarian permits and visas.

All these actions would contribute to reshaping the EU’s external action related to migration, notably in the Mediterranean. They would also enhance the EU’s credibility vis-à-vis those third countries that accept significant number of migrants and refugees, and that most directly bear the consequences of their neighbours’ conflicts. (This is the case today for Lebanon and Turkey, as a result of the Syrian civil war). A modified EU approach could also project a more nuanced and positive view of migration – a change that might, in turn, influence the way migration is perceived more broadly within the EU.”

Click here or here for the Analysis.


Filed under Analysis, European Union, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, Turkey

PACE Calls for Urgent Measures to Assist Greece and Turkey With Mounting Migratory Tensions in Eastern Mediterranean

PACE, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, adopted a Resolution on 24 January 2013 calling for “firm and urgent measures [to] tackle the mounting pressure and tension over asylum and irregular migration into Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries.”  The Resolution noted that Greece, with EU assistance, has enhanced border controls, particularly along its land border with Turkey and while “these policies have helped reduce considerably the flow of arrivals across the Evros border with Turkey, they have transferred the problem to the Greek islands and have not helped significantly in dealing with the situation of irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees already in Greece.”

The Resolution makes recommendations to the EU, Greece, and Turkey and calls on CoE members states to “substantially increase their assistance to Greece, Turkey and other front-line countries” in various ways, including:

  • provide bi-lateral assistance, including by exploring new approaches to resettlement and intraEurope relocation of refugees  and asylum seekers;
  • share responsibility for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers via intra European Union relocation and refrain from sending these persons back to Syria or third countries;
  • maintain a moratorium on returns to Greece of asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation.

The Resolution was supported by a Report prepared by Ms Tineke Strik, Rapporteur, PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

Click here for full text of Resolution 1918(2013), Migration and asylum: mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Click here for PACE press statement.

Click here for Report by Rapporteur, Ms Tineke Strik, Doc. 13106, 23 Jan 2013.

Here are extensive excerpts from the Rapporteur’s Report (which should be read in its entirety):

Summary –  Greece has become the main entry point for irregular migratory flows into the European Union, while Turkey has become the main country of transit. [***]

Europe must drastically rethink its approach to responsibility sharing to deal with what is a European problem and not one reserved to a single or only a few countries. Member States are called on to substantially increase their support for Greece, Turkey and other front-line countries to ensure that they have a realistic possibility of dealing with the challenges that they face. In this the Council of Europe also has a role to play, for example through exploring resettlement and readmission possibilities, assisting States in dealing with their asylum backlogs and putting forward innovative projects to alleviate growing racism and xenophobia towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.


C. Explanatory memorandum by Ms Strik, rapporteur

1. Introduction


2. Greece is facing a major challenge to cope with both the large influx of mixed migratory flows, including irregular migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and the current economic crisis. That said it is not the only country struggling to cope in the region. It is impossible to look at the situation of Greece without also examining that of Turkey, which is the main country of transit to Greece and is also having to shoulder responsibility for over 150 000 Syrian refugees.

3. In the light of the foregoing, it is necessary to examine the extent of the migration and asylum challenges at Europe’s south-eastern border, taking into account Turkey and Greece’s policy reactions. Two further elements have to be added to this, namely the social tensions arising within Greek society due to an overload of financial and migratory pressure and also the issue of shared responsibility in Europe for dealing with European as opposed to simply national problems.

2. The storm at Europe’s south-eastern border

2.1. Greece under pressure: irregular migration challenge and economic crisis

4. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees crossed the Greek land, river and sea borders with many travelling through Turkey. In 2010, the large majority of mixed migratory flows entered the European Union through the Greek-Turkish border. This situation brings major challenges in terms of human rights and migration management.

5. According to statistics provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2010, more than 132 000 third-country nationals were arrested in Greece, including 53 000 in the Greek-Turkish border regions. During the first ten months of 2012, over 70 000 arrests occurred, including about 32 000 at the borders of Turkey.  People came from 110 different countries – the majority from Asia, including Afghanis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, as well as from Iraq, Somalia, and the Middle-East, especially Palestinians and an increasing number of Syrians.

6. Most migrants and asylum seekers do not want to stay in Greece and plan to continue their journey further into Europe. Many of them are however stuck in Greece, due to border checks and arrests when trying to exit Greece, the current Dublin Regulation, and the fact that many irregular migrants cannot be returned to their country of origin.

7. The context of the serious economic and sovereign debt crisis aggravates the situation and reduces the ability for the Greek Government to adequately respond to the large influx. [***]

2.2. Syria: a bad situation could get worse

8. In its Resolution 1902 (2012) on “The European response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria”, the Parliamentary Assembly condemned “the continuing, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, committed in Syria”. It described the humanitarian situation as becoming “more and more critical” for the estimated 1.2 million internally displaced Syrians and the 638 000 Syrians registered or awaiting registration as refugees in neighbouring countries.


11. By October 2012, 23 500 Syrian nationals had applied for asylum in EU member States, including almost 3 000 applications in September 2012 alone, and over 15 000 in Germany and Sweden.  Compared to neighbouring countries, asylum seeker numbers in the European Union currently remains manageable. However the number of Syrians trying to enter Greek territory in an irregular manner reached a critical level in July 2012, when up to 800 Syrians were crossing the Greek-Turkish land border every week. In the second half of 2012, more than 32% of sea arrivals to the Greek Islands were Syrian nationals.

2.3. Regional implications of mixed migratory arrivals

12. In recent years, Spain, Italy and Malta were at the forefront of large-scale sea arrivals. According to the UNHCR, in 2012, 1 567 individuals arrived in Malta by sea. 75% of these persons were from Somalia. The UNHCR estimates however that less than 30% of the more than 16 000 individuals who have arrived in Malta since 2002 remain in Malta.

13. Spain and Italy have signed and effectively enforced readmission agreements with North and West African countries cutting down on the mixed migration flows. These agreements have provided the basis for returning irregular migrants and preventing their crossing through increased maritime patrols and border surveillance, including in the context of joint Frontex operations.

14. As a consequence of shifting routes, migratory pressure at the Greek-Turkish border increased significantly and Greece became the main gate of entry into the European Union from 2008 onwards, with an interval in 2011 when the Arab Spring brought a new migratory flow to Italy and Malta. To give an idea of how much the routes have changed, Frontex indicated that in 2012, 56% of detections of irregular entry into the European Union occurred on the Greek-Turkish border.

15. Turkey, by contrast, has become the main transit country for migrants seeking to enter the European Union. Its 11 000-km-long border and its extensive visa-free regime make it an easy country to enter. An estimated half a million documented and undocumented migrants currently live in the country. This has brought a whole new range of challenges for Turkey and meant that it has had to develop a new approach to migration management and protection for those seeking asylum and international protection.  It has also faced problems in terms of detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers. As with Greece, the conditions of detention have been highly criticised and steps are being taken to build new centres with the assistance of funding from the European Union.

16. Until recently, the traditionally complex Greek-Turkish political relations did not allow the pursuit and consolidation of an effective readmission policy with Turkey. Although Greece, for example, signed a readmission protocol with Turkey which goes back to 2001, the implementation of this was only agreed on in 2010. It is important that this bilateral agreement between Greece and Turkey functions effectively and this will be a challenge for both countries.

3. Shielding Greece through border management and detention: does it work?

3.1. Enhanced border controls at the Greek-Turkish land border (Evros region)

17. The unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the Greek-Turkish border in recent years put the existing capacities and resources of Greece under severe strain. To remedy this situation, the Greek authorities have adopted the “Greek Action Plan on Asylum and Migration Management”, which is the basis for reforming the asylum and migration management framework in Greece.

18. In this context, considerable efforts were undertaken to reinforce Greece’s external borders and particularly the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros region. This was done notably through building up operational centres, using electronic surveillance and night vision devices, and by deploying patrol boats to strengthen river patrols. The surveillance technology used is part of the efforts under the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur).

19. The so-called operation “Aspida” (“shield”), initiated in August 2012, aims to enhance border controls, surveillance and patrolling activities at the Greek-Turkish land border. Approximately 1 800 additional police officers from across Greece were deployed as border guards to the Evros region.

20. Increased border controls in the context of this operation have not been without criticism. There have been worrying reports about migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers from Syria and other countries, being pushed back to Turkey over the Evros river.  Two incidents reportedly took place in June and October 2012, when inflatable boats were intercepted in the middle of the Evros river by Greek patrol boats and pushed back to Turkey before their boat was sunk, leaving people to swim to the Turkish shore.

21. In addition, the Greek authorities completed a barbed wire fence at the 12.5-km-land border in December 2012. The barrier which was criticised by EU officials when announced  and built without EU funding, cost an estimated 3 million euros.

22. As a consequence of these actions, the numbers of irregular land border crossings dropped from over 2 000 a week in the first week of August to below 30 a week in the second half of September. According to the regional governor of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, they are now close to zero.  While the Greek authorities claim that these actions have resulted in a more than 80% decrease of irregular entries,  one can observe that migrants’ routes have shifted from the Greek-Turkish land border mainly to the sea border between both countries. This shift has been recognised by the Greek authorities.

23. Increased numbers of migrants are now arriving on the Greek Aegean islands of Lesvos, Samos, Symi and Farmkonissi. Between August and December 2012, 3 280 persons were arrested after crossing the Greek-Turkish sea border,  compared to 65 persons in the first seven months of 2012.

24. There has also been an increase in the number of deaths at sea. In early September 2012, 60 people perished when their boat sank off the coast in Izmir.  On 15 December 2012, at least 18 migrants drowned off the coast of Lesvos while attempting to reach the island by boat.

25. The spill over effect of new routes opening are now being felt by neighbouring countries, such as Bulgaria and some of the Western Balkans.

3.2. Systematic detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers

26. Together with increased border controls, administrative detention remains the predominant policy response by the Greek authorities to the entry and stay of irregular migrants.  [***]


29. Particularly worrying are the conditions in the various detention centres and police stations where irregular migrants and asylum seekers are held, and which have frequently been criticised. The European Court of Human Rights has found Greece to be in violation of the right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment in several cases in recent years.  In addition, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CPT) has regularly criticised the poor detention conditions of irregular migrants and asylum seekers and the structural deficiencies in Greece’s detention policy as well as the government’s persistent lack of action to improve the situation.  See also: CPT, Report on its visit from 19 to 27 January 2011, published on 10 January 2012, at: www.cpt.coe.int/documents/grc/2012-01-inf-eng.pdf, together with the reply by the Greek authorities, at: www.cpt.coe.int/documents/grc/2012-02-inf-eng.pdf. The conditions of detention in one centre in Greece were found to be so bad that a local court in Igoumenista acquitted, earlier this year, migrants who were charged with escaping from detention stating that the conditions in the centre were not in compliance with the migrants’ human rights.


3.3. Impediments in accessing asylum and international protection

35. Despite the current efforts by the Greek authorities to reform the asylum and migration management framework, the country still does not have a fair and effective asylum system in place. The Greek Action Plan on Migration and Asylum, which was revised in December 2012, sets out the strategy of the Greek Government. It foresees the speedy creation of a functioning new Asylum Service, a new First Reception Service and a new Appeals Authority, staffed by civil servants under the Ministry of Public Order and Citizens Protection, disengaging the asylum procedure from the police authorities. However problems in finding sufficient financial resources and qualified staff still give rise for concerns on the implementation of the plans.


4. Social tensions within Greek society

4.1. The social situation of migrants and asylum seekers

41. Greece’s efforts to deal with the influx of irregular migrants and asylum seekers suffers from there being no comprehensive migration policy. [***]

4.2. Discrimination, xenophobia and racist attacks against migrants

46. The mounting social tensions and the inadequate response by the State to address the difficult social situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees have led to an increase in criminality and exploitation of this group. In addition, migration has become a key confrontational political issue. This in turn has contributed to an increasingly wide-spread anti-immigrant sentiment among the Greek population.

47. Over the last two years there has been a dramatic increase in xenophobic violence and racially motivated attacks against migrants in Greece, including physical attacks, such as beatings and stabbings, attacks on immigrants’ residences, places of worship, migrants’ shops or community centres.  The Network for Recording Incidents of Racist Violence documented 87 racist incidents against migrants and refugees between January and September 2012.  Half of them were connected with extremist groups.

48. Members and supporters of Golden Dawn have often been linked with recent violent attacks and raids against migrants and asylum seekers. By using blatantly anti-migrant and racist discourse, often inciting violence, Golden Dawn gained 7% of the popular vote during the June 2012 parliamentary elections and support seems to be growing, according to recent polls. In October 2012, the Greek Parliament lifted the immunity from prosecution of the two Golden Dawn MPs who participated in the violent attacks against migrants in September.

49. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Greece to examine whether the “most overt extremist and Nazi party in Europe” is legal. It seems that Golden Dawn aims at political and societal destabilisation and gains by the failing policy regarding refugees and irregular migrants. In December 2012, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed its “deep concern” about the rise of Golden Dawn and asked the Greek authorities to “take firm and effective action to ensure that the activities of Golden Dawn do not violate the free and democratic political order or the rights of any individuals”.

5. The European responsibility for a European problem

5.1. European front-line States under particular pressure

50. This is not the first time that the Parliamentary Assembly expresses its concern on the particular pressure that European front-line States are confronted with. Resolution 1521 (2006) on the mass arrival of irregular migrants on Europe’s Southern shores, Resolution 1637 (2008) on Europe’s “boat people”: mixed migration flows by sea into southern Europe and Resolution 1805 (2011) on the large-scale arrival of irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees on Europe’s southern shores.

51. Despite the fact that most European Union countries have stopped returning asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece,  there are still some reports of returns from some countries based on this regulation.

52. The final agreement between the Council and the European Parliament on the revision of the Dublin Regulation still allocates responsibilities for asylum seekers to a single EU member State and does not present a more fundamental reform of the rules. European Union member States also rejected the idea of a mechanism to suspend transfers to those EU countries which were unable to manage the influx of asylum seekers into their territory, preferring to adopt an “early warning mechanism”.

5.2. Greece: A test case for European solidarity

53. This migratory pressure Greece is confronted with comes at a moment when the country is suffering as no other European country does from the current economic and social crisis. In response to these difficulties, the European Union has provided financial and technical assistance.

54. During the period of 2011-2013, Greece received 98,6 million euros under the Return Fund, 132,8 million euros under the External Border Fund and 19,95 million euros under the European Refugee Fund. The focus of funding was thus on border control and detention measures, to the detriment of the protection measures.

55. Frontex Joint Operation “Poseidon Land” was launched in 2010 at the borders between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and Bulgaria. EU member States currently have 41 police officers and equipment deployed to the Evros border region in Greece.  They also support the Greek and Bulgarian authorities with the screening and debriefing of irregular migrants, and tackling irregular migratory inflows and smuggling networks towards Greece. In addition, Frontex has recently strengthened its patrols in the coastal waters in the Eastern Aegean between Greece and Turkey in the context of Joint Operation “Poseidon Sea”. European Union member States have deployed additional maritime surveillance assets at the sea border between Greece and Turkey. The joint operation was extended to also cover the West coast of Greece and today is Frontex’s main operational activity in the Mediterranean region.

56. Furthermore, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) provides technical support to Greece and other EU member States whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure. Following the request by the Greek Government in February 2011, EASO started giving assistance and training in building up a new asylum system, improving reception conditions of asylum seekers in Greece and clearing the backlog of outstanding asylum claims. To do this they have deployed over 40 Asylum Support Teams of experts to the country.

57. While EU member States are ready to provide financial and technical assistance to help Greece in managing and controlling its borders, with a focus on both forced and voluntary returns as a policy solution, they are not keen on sharing the reception and processing of mixed migratory flows arriving at the European Union’s external border. According to the Greens/European Free Alliance of the European Parliament, “[m]igration will not be stopped by reinforcing border control, border management measures and forced returns; the current approach only reinforces human rights violations”.

58. As rapporteur I would largely agree with this statement, although I would add that while such policies may be able to solve a problem in one country, it then simply “passes the buck” to another. Should it be possible to seal Greece’s border, this would undoubtedly then put even greater pressure on Turkey and Bulgaria and then up the eastern borders of the European Union. This is an issue which will be the subject of a separate report by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

59. The European Union response to the economic and financial crisis in Greece has been a massive bail out. Similar solidarity is however necessary with regards to the current social and humanitarian crisis in the field of migration and asylum. Europe is however doing too little, too late. A shared asylum policy that takes into account that the migratory pressures are not the sole responsible of one or a few European States, but a European problem, is even more essential in a time when the region is facing major instability. This instability will only increase further if the up and coming Golden Dawn party succeeds in exploiting the immigrant issue. Europe cannot afford to look away.

60. Increased migratory flows to European front-line States requires a fundamental rethink on solidarity and responsibility sharing. This includes swift solutions that go beyond mere financial and technical assistance and show greater solidarity in receiving refugees and asylum seekers and developing resettlement, especially currently for Syrian refugees from the neighbouring countries of Syria, and intra-EU relocation programmes, in particular where children and families are concerned. Assembly Resolution 1820 (2011) on asylum seekers and refugees: sharing responsibility in Europe provides meaningful recommendations in this respect.

6. Conclusions

61. The pressure of mixed migratory flows currently unfolding at the European Union’s external borders in the eastern Mediterranean requires rethinking of the entire solidarity system with the European Union and the Council of Europe. Greece, Turkey or other neighbouring countries should not be left with the primary responsibility of dealing with the mounting mixed migratory pressure from the South and East. A shared asylum and migration policy is even more essential at a time when the region is facing major economic and social instability.

62. Stricter border control, prolonging migrants’ and asylum seekers’ detention or constructing new detention facilities in Greece all contribute to further human rights violations taking place. They are not the way out of the problem and they do not persuade people fleeing from poverty or violence in their countries of origin to remain at home.

63. The recent efforts by the Greek authorities to introduce a more effective and humane system addressing the large number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers entering Greece is a welcome step in the right direction. Greece however faces a Herculean task in building up an efficient, fair and functioning system providing international protection to those in need.

64. Europe urgently needs to join forces to deal with the Syrian refugee problem, offering resettlement and relocation to relieve the burden falling on neighbouring States of Syria as well as its southern European States, and ensuring that Syrian refugees are not sent back.

65. The challenges are great but not insurmountable for Europe. Left to individual States they are.


Click here for full text of Resolution 1918(2013), Migration and asylum: mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Click here for PACE press statement.

Click here for Report by Rapporteur, Ms Tineke Strik, Doc. 13106, 23 Jan 2013.


Filed under Aegean Sea, Analysis, Council of Europe, Frontex, Greece, News, Reports, Syria, Turkey, UNHCR

PACE Rapporteur Strik and HRW Respond to Recent Migrant Boat Tragedies

Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on “Lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea: who is responsible?”, issued a statement on Friday in response to the deaths of 61 persons from Syria and other countries (including 31 children) off the Turkish coast and the ongoing migrant boats departing from North Africa:

“In the case of the boat off Turkey, many of those on board are thought to have come from Syria where a humanitarian crisis is in full swing. Asylum seekers from the conflict there are heading not only to neighbouring states but also to the rest of Europe[.]  This is an urgent warning that Europe must give much greater priority to the humanitarian situation evolving in Syria, and find new means to tackle the migration flows between Turkey and Greece – for Turkey’s sake, for Greece’s stake, for Europe’s stake, and for the sake of all those who have lost their lives and who will continue to lose their lives crossing between the two countries. European countries should also be prepared to take their share in the protection of Syrian refugees, as neighbouring countries Jordan and Turkey are facing growing problems in coping with such large numbers. We know that a failure to react adequately to the humanitarian consequences of the Libya conflict caused unnecessary deaths. Let us not repeat those mistakes with the conflict in Syria.”

Human Rights Watch also issued a statement:  “The deaths of so many children should be a wake-up call to EU leaders[.]  Europe can and should do more to limit tragedies like these in the future…. Both Frontex, the EU external borders agency, and a proposed new European External Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) include rescue at sea in their mandates, but lack specific guidelines and procedures to ensure that rescue is the paramount consideration in EU operations at sea. Preventing deaths at sea needs to be at the heart of a coordinated European-wide approach to boat migration…. The EU should also coordinate with Turkish authorities to ensure that there are no gaps in rescue coverage. … Europe squabbled and dragged its feet last year when tens of thousands came by sea to escape chaos and conflict in North Africa…. It needs to live up to European values this time around, and do its utmost to ensure that those fleeing Syria reach safety.”  Human Rights Watch released a briefing paper in August regarding ongoing migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.

Click here for full Statement by Tineke Strik.

Click here for full HRW Statement.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Council of Europe, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, Statements, Syria, Turkey

HRW Briefing Paper: Hidden Emergency-Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean

Human Rights Watch released a briefing paper on 16 August entitled “Hidden Emergency-Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.”  The briefing paper, written by Judith Sunderland, a senior researcher with HRW, reviews recent events in the Mediterranean, provides updates on new developments, including the EUROSUR proposal and IMO guidelines that are under consideration, and makes recommendations for how deaths can be minimized.

Excerpts from the Briefing Paper:

“The death toll during the first six months of 2012 has reached at least 170. … Unless more is done, it is certain that more will die.

Europe has a responsibility to make sure that preventing deaths at sea is at the heart of a coordinated European-wide approach to boat migration, not a self-serving afterthought to policies focused on preventing arrivals or another maneuver by northern member states to shift the burden to southern member states like Italy and Malta.

With admirable candor, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said recently that Europe had, in its reaction to the Arab Spring, ‘missed the opportunity to show the EU is ready to defend, to stand up, and to help.’ Immediate, concerted efforts to prevent deaths at sea must be part of rectifying what Malmström called Europe’s ‘historic mistake.’

Europe’s Response to Boat Migration


European countries most affected by boat migration—Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain—have saved many lives through rescue operations. But those governments and the European Union as a whole have focused far more effort on seeking to prevent boat migration, including in ways that violate rights. Cooperation agreements with countries of departure for joint maritime patrols, technical and financial assistance for border and immigration control, and expedited readmission of those who manage to set foot on European soil have become commonplace.

The EU’s border agency Frontex has become increasingly active through joint maritime operations, some of which have involved coordination with countries of departure outside the EU such as Senegal. Even though in September 2011 the EU gave Frontex an explicit duty to respect human rights in its operations and a role in supporting rescue at sea operations, these operations have as a primary objective to prevent boats from landing on EU member state territories. This has also prevented migrants, including asylum seekers, from availing themselves of procedural rights that apply within EU territory.


Italy had suspended its cooperation agreements with Libya in February 2011, and has indicated it will respect the European Court’s ruling and will no longer engage in push-backs. However, past experience suggests that an immigration cooperation agreement signed with the Libyan authorities in April 2012, the exact contents of which have neither been made public nor submitted to parliamentary scrutiny, is unlikely to give migrants’ human rights the attention and focus they need if those rights are to be properly protected.


Preventing Deaths in the Mediterranean

It may be tempting to blame lives lost at sea on unscrupulous smugglers, the weather, or simple, cruel fate. However, many deaths can and should be prevented. UNHCR’s recommendation during the Arab Spring to presume that all overcrowded migrant boats in the Mediterranean need rescue is a good place to start.


Recognizing the serious dimensions of the problem, specialized United Nations agencies such as the UNHCR and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), have been working to produce clear recommendations. These include establishing a model framework for cooperation in rescue at sea and standard operating procedures for shipmasters. The latter should include a definition of distress triggering the obligation to provide assistance that takes into account risk factors, such as overcrowding, poor conditions on board, and lack of necessary equipment or expertise. UNHCR has also proposed that countries with refugee resettlement programs set aside a quota for recognized refugees rescued at sea.

The IMO has also been pursuing since 2010 a regional agreement among Mediterranean European countries to improve rescue and disembarkation coordination, as well as burden-sharing. The project, if implemented successfully, would serve as a model for other regions. A draft text for a memorandum of understanding is under discussion. Negotiations should be fast-tracked with a view to implementation as quickly as possible.

If Europe is serious about saving lives at sea, it also needs to amend the draft legislation creating EUROSUR. This new coordinated surveillance system should spell out clearly the paramount duty to assist boat migrants at sea, and its implementation must be subject to rigorous and impartial monitoring. Arguments that such a focus would create a ‘pull factor’ and encourage more migrants to risk the crossing are spurious. History shows that people on the move, whether for economic or political reasons, are rarely deterred or encouraged by external factors.


From the HRW press statement:

The “briefing paper includes concrete recommendations to improve rescue operations and save lives:

  • Improve search and rescue coordination mechanisms among EU member states;
  • Ensure that EUROSUR has clear guidelines on the paramount duty of rescue at sea and that its implementation is rigorously monitored;
  • Clarify what constitutes a distress situation, to create a presumption in favor of rescue for overcrowded and ill-equipped boats;
  • Resolve disputes about disembarkation points;
  • Remove disincentives for commercial and private vessels to conduct rescues; and
  • Increase burden-sharing among EU member states.”

Click here or here for HRW Briefing Paper.

Click here for HRW press statement.


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, Reports, Spain, Tunisia

Malta Expresses Interest in Use of Drones for Migrant Surveillance at Sea

Malta Today reported last week that the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) “have expressed interest in benefitting from a European Union-sponsored project involving the deployment of unmanned drones to assist in migrant patrols at sea.”  “An AFM spokesman told Malta Today that while the armed forces are ‘fully involved in the development of the system’ it is however ‘not participating in the testing of such drones.’”

The use of drones for land and sea border surveillance is contemplated by the EU Commission’s EUROSUR proposal which is currently being considered by the European Parliament.  The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s recent report, “Borderline – The EU’s new border surveillance initiatives”, noted that “[w]hile FRONTEX has demonstrated a great amount of interest in the use of drones, it remains to be seen whether the agency will purchase its own UAVs. According to the 2012 FRONTEX Work Programme, the agency’s Research and Development Unit is currently engaged in a nine-month study to ‘identify more cost efficient and operational effective solutions for aerial border surveillance in particular Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) with Optional Piloted Vehicles (OPV) that could be used in FRONTEX Joint Operations (sea and land).’”

The United States has been using drones for some years now to monitor land and sea borders and is currently planning to expand the use of drones in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico despite serious questions that are being raised about the effectiveness of surveillance drones operating over the sea. According to a recent Los Angeles Times article the Predator drones that are currently being operated by the Department of Homeland Security over the Caribbean “have had limited success spotting drug runners in the open ocean. The drones have largely failed to impress veteran military, Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers charged with finding and boarding speedboats, fishing vessels and makeshift submarines ferrying tons of cocaine and marijuana to America’s coasts.”  “‘I’m not sure just because it’s a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that it will solve and fit in our problem set,’ the top military officer for the region, Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, said recently. …  For the recent counter-narcotics flights over the Bahamas, border agents deployed a maritime variant of the Predator B called a Guardian with a SeaVue radar system that can scan large sections of open ocean. … But test flights for the Guardian [drone] showed disappointing results in the Bahamas, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the program who were not authorized to speak publicly.  During more than 1,260 hours in the air off the southeastern coast of Florida, the Guardian assisted in only a handful of large-scale busts, the officials said….”

Click here, here, and here for articles.


Filed under European Union, Frontex, Malta, News

Heinrich Böll Foundation Study: Borderline- The EU’s New Border Surveillance Initiatives, Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the ‘Smart Borders’ Proposals

The Heinrich Böll Foundation released a study written by Dr. Ben Hayes from Statewatch and Mathias Vermeulen (editor of The Lift- Legal Issues in the Fight Against Terrorism blog) entitled “Borderline – The EU’s new border surveillance initiatives: assessing the costs and fundamental rights implications of EUROSUR and the ‘Smart Borders’ Proposals.”  The Study was presented to the European Parliament last month.  As Mathias Vermeulen noted in an email distributing the study, “the European Parliament is currently negotiating the legislative proposal for Eurosur, and the European Commission is likely to present a legislative proposal on ‘smart borders’ in September/October.”

Excerpts from the Preface and Executive Summary of the Study:


The upheavals in North Africa have lead to a short-term rise of refugees to Europe, yet, demonstrably, there has been no wave of refugees heading for Europe. By far most refugees have found shelter in neighbouring Arab countries. Nevertheless, in June 2011, the EU’s heads of state precipitately adopted EU Council Conclusions with far-reaching consequences, one that will result in new border policies ‘protecting’ the Union against migration. In addition to new rules and the re-introduction of border controls within the Schengen Area, the heads of state also insisted on upgrading the EU’s external borders using state-of-art surveillance technology, thus turning the EU into an electronic fortress.

The Conclusions passed by the representatives of EU governments aims to quickly put into place the European surveillance system EUROSUR. This is meant to enhance co-operation between Europe’s border control agencies and promote the surveillance of the EU’s external borders by FRONTEX, the Union’s agency for the protection of its external borders, using state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. To achieve this, there are even plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the Mediterranean and the coasts of North Africa. Such high-tech missions have the aim to spot and stop refugee vessels even before they reach Europe’s borders. A EUROSUR bill has been drafted and is presently being discussed in the European Council and in the European Parliament. [***]

EUROSUR and ‘smart borders’ represent the EU’s cynical response to the Arab Spring. Both are new forms of European border controls – new external border protection policies to shut down the influx of refugees and migrants (supplemented by internal controls within the Schengen Area); to achieve this, the home secretaries of some countries are even willing to accept an infringement of fundamental rights.

The present study by Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen demonstrates that EUROSUR fosters EU policies that undermine the rights to asylum and protection. For some time, FRONTEX has been criticised for its ‘push back’ operations during which refugee vessels are being intercepted and escorted back to their ports of origin. In February 2012, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for carrying out such operations, arguing that Italian border guards had returned all refugees found on an intercepted vessel back to Libya – including those with a right to asylum and international protection. As envisioned by EUROSUR, the surveillance of the Mediterranean using UAVs, satellites, and shipboard monitoring systems will make it much easier to spot such vessels. It is to be feared, that co-operation with third countries, especially in North Africa, as envisioned as part of EUROSUR, will lead to an increase of ‘push back’ operations.

Nevertheless, the EU’s announcement of EUROSUR sounds upbeat: The planned surveillance of the Mediterranean, we are being told, using UAVs, satellites, and shipboard monitoring systems, will aid in the rescue of refugees shipwrecked on the open seas. The present study reveals to what extent such statements cover up a lack of substance. Maritime rescue services are not part of EUROSUR and border guards do not share information with them, however vital this may be. Only just recently, the Council of Europe issued a report on the death of 63 migrants that starved and perished on an unseaworthy vessel, concluding that the key problem had not been to locate the vessel but ill-defined responsibilities within Europe. No one came to the aid of the refugees – and that in spite of the fact that the vessel’s position had been known. [***]

The EU’s new border control programmes not only represent a novel technological upgrade, they also show that the EU is unable to deal with migration and refugees. Of the 500,000 refugees fleeing the turmoil in North Africa, less than 5% ended up in Europe. Rather, the problem is that most refugees are concentrated in only a very few places. It is not that the EU is overtaxed by the problem; it is local structures on Lampedusa, in Greece’s Evros region, and on Malta that have to bear the brunt of the burden. This can hardly be resolved by labelling migration as a novel threat and using military surveillance technology to seal borders. For years, instead of receiving refugees, the German government along with other EU countries has blocked a review of the Dublin Regulation in the European Council. For the foreseeable future, refugees and migrants are to remain in the countries that are their first point of entry into the Union.

Within the EU, the hostile stance against migrants has reached levels that threaten the rescue of shipwrecked refugees. During FRONTEX operations, shipwrecked refugees will not be brought to the nearest port – although this is what international law stipulates – instead they will be landed in a port of the member country that is in charge of the operation. This reflects a ’nimby’ attitude – not in my backyard. This is precisely the reason for the lack of responsibility in European maritime rescue operations pointed out by the Council of Europe. As long as member states are unwilling to show more solidarity and greater humanity, EUROSUR will do nothing to change the status quo.

The way forward would be to introduce improved, Europe-wide standards for the granting of asylum. The relevant EU guidelines are presently under review, albeit with the proviso that the cost of new regulations may not exceed the cost of those in place – and that they may not cause a relative rise in the number of asylum requests. In a rather cynical move, the EU’s heads of government introduced this proviso in exactly the same resolution that calls for the rapid introduction of new surveillance measures costing billions. Correspondingly, the budget of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is small – only a ninth what goes towards FRONTEX.

Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values – under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane.

Berlin/Brussels, May 2012

Barbara Unmüßig

President Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Ska Keller

Member of the European Parliament

Executive Summary

The research paper ‘Borderline’ examines two new EU border surveillance initiatives: the creation of a European External Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) and the creation of the so-called ‘smart borders package’…. EUROSUR promises increased surveillance of the EU’s sea and land borders using a vast array of new technologies, including drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), off-shore sensors, and satellite tracking systems. [***]

The EU’s 2008 proposals gained new momentum with the perceived ‘migration crisis’ that accompanied the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, which resulted in the arrival of thousands of Tunisians in France. These proposals are now entering a decisive phase. The European Parliament and the Council have just started negotiating the legislative proposal for the EUROSUR system, and within months the Commission is expected to issue formal proposals for the establishment of an [Entry-Exit System] and [Registered Traveller Programme]. [***]

The report is also critical of the decision-making process. Whereas the decision to establish comparable EU systems such as EUROPOL and FRONTEX were at least discussed in the European and national parliaments, and by civil society, in the case of EUROSUR – and to a lesser extent the smart borders initiative – this method has been substituted for a technocratic process that has allowed for the development of the system and substantial public expenditure to occur well in advance of the legislation now on the table. Following five years of technical development, the European Commission expects to adopt the legal framework and have the EUROSUR system up and running (albeit in beta form) in the same year (2013), presenting the European Parliament with an effective fait accomplit.

The EUROSUR system

The main purpose of EUROSUR is to improve the ‘situational awareness’ and reaction capability of the member states and FRONTEX to prevent irregular migration and cross-border crime at the EU’s external land and maritime borders. In practical terms, the proposed Regulation would extend the obligations on Schengen states to conducting comprehensive ‘24/7’ surveillance of land and sea borders designated as high-risk – in terms of unauthorised migration – and mandate FRONTEX to carry out surveillance of the open seas beyond EU territory and the coasts and ports of northern Africa. Increased situational awareness of the high seas should force EU member states to take adequate steps to locate and rescue persons in distress at sea in accordance with the international law of the sea. The Commission has repeatedly stressed EUROSUR’s future role in ‘protecting and saving lives of migrants’, but nowhere in the proposed Regulation and numerous assessments, studies, and R&D projects is it defined how exactly this will be done, nor are there any procedures laid out for what should be done with the ‘rescued’. In this context, and despite the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean among migrants and refugees bound for Europe, EUROSUR is more likely to be used alongside the long-standing European policy of preventing these people reaching EU territory (including so-called push back operations, where migrant boats are taken back to the state of departure) rather than as a genuine life-saving tool.

The EUROSUR system relies on a host of new surveillance technologies and the interlinking of 24 different national surveillance systems and coordination centers, bilaterally and through FRONTEX. Despite the high-tech claims, however, the planned EUROSUR system has not been subject to a proper technological risk assessment. The development of new technologies and the process of interlinking 24 different national surveillance systems and coordination centres – bilaterally and through FRONTEX – is both extremely complex and extremely costly, yet the only people who have been asked if they think it will work are FRONTEX and the companies selling the hardware and software. The European Commission estimates that EUROSUR will cost €338 million, but its methods do not stand up to scrutiny. Based on recent expenditure from the EU External Borders Fund, the framework research programme, and indicative budgets for the planned Internal Security Fund (which will support the implementation of the EU’s Internal Security Strategy from 2014–2020), it appears that EUROSUR could easily end up costing two or three times more: as much as €874 million. Without a cap on what can be spent attached to the draft EUROSUR or Internal Security Fund legislation, the European Parliament will be powerless to prevent any cost overruns. There is no single mechanism for financial accountability beyond the periodic reports submitted by the Commission and FRONTEX, and since the project is being funded from various EU budget lines, it is already very difficult to monitor what has actually been spent.

In its legislative proposal, the European Commission argues that EUROSUR will only process personal data on an ‘exceptional’ basis, with the result that minimal attention is being paid to privacy and data protection issues. The report argues that the use of drones and high-resolution cameras means that much more personal data is likely to be collected and processed than is being claimed. Detailed data protection safeguards are needed, particularly since EUROSUR will form in the future a part of the EU’s wider Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE), under which information may be shared with a whole range of third actors, including police agencies and defence forces. They also call for proper supervision of EUROSUR, with national data protection authorities checking the processing of personal data by the EUROSUR National Coordination Centres, and the processing of personal data by FRONTEX, subject to review by the European Data Protection Supervisor. EUROSUR also envisages the exchange of information with ‘neighbouring third countries’ on the basis of bilateral or multilateral agreements with member states, but the draft legislation expressly precludes such exchanges where third countries could use this information to identify persons or groups who are at risk of being subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, or other fundamental rights violations. The authors argue that it will be impossible to uphold this provision without the logging of all such data exchanges and the establishment of a proper supervisory system. [***]”

Click here or here for full text of Study.


Filed under Analysis, European Union, Frontex, Mediterranean, Reports

Director Laitinen Describes Frontex Response to the 2011 Migratory Flows from North Africa

In a recent opinion article published on Publicservice.co.uk, Frontex Director Ilkka Laitinen described the challenges faced by Frontex and provided a description of Frontex’s “unprecedented” activities over the past 12 months in the operational theatre, referring to the first RABIT deployment in October 2010 and the response to the migratory flows from North Africa beginning in January 2011.

Extensive excerpts regarding the response to the migratory flows from North Africa:

“…  Since January 2011, world attention has been focused as never before on the Arab world. The ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East once again redrew the European migration map, and Frontex’s operational capacity was tested again. With the arrival of almost 5,000 migrants on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, the agency was once more called upon to assist. However, the support required was in a very different form than that in Greece.

African exodus
The migratory flows from North Africa towards the EU external borders – predominantly to Italy and Malta – have been very different from those to Greece. Initially, almost all were economic migrants from Tunisia seeking work in Europe.

The modus operandi of the facilitation networks behind the phenomenon was a familiar one to Frontex, namely, over-packing unseaworthy vessels with inadequately experienced crews and little life-saving equipment, if any. This created a predominantly humanitarian need for search and rescue activities at sea. It also created an administrative challenge on shore, to process usually undocumented migrants, establish their nationalities and identities and take care of their immediate needs, as well as to transfer them to better equipped facilities on the mainland and start return procedures where appropriate. There was no call from Italy for a RABIT deployment, however. Italy is very well equipped for maritime border control, as well as for search and rescue activities. Where the Italian authorities requested most support was in Frontex’s other areas of specialisation – intelligence gathering, situational awareness, and the deployment of experts to the field to assist in the screening and debriefing of migrants (establishing probable nationality and gathering evidence of people smuggling respectively). Long before being called on by the Italian Ministry of Interior, Frontex’s Situation Centre and Risk Analysis Unit were busy identifying the full range of possible scenarios in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, as well as monitoring developments in other countries in the region.

Since the first waves of migrants from Tunisia, the situation has evolved constantly, with ever more sub-Saharan migrants and refugees seeking international protection. Such changeable flows require flexibility and constant adjustment to the operational response. For each possible scenario, an appropriate operational response was planned by the Joint Operations Unit and all necessary steps were taken to ensure that a rapid response could be launched anywhere in the operational area at any time.

This is an ongoing process and a challenge to which expert staff at the agency’s Warsaw HQ, and the Frontex Operational Office in Piraeus, Athens, continue to respond. This readiness ensures operational flexibility. It also demonstrates another important area in which Frontex adds value to member states’ activities at the EU’s external borders. It must always be borne in mind that it is the member states themselves that remain at all times responsible for their own borders; Frontex’s role is to provide support when requested. Keeping member states up to date with detailed and accurate intelligence is one of the ways the agency works behind the scenes to maximise member states’ effectiveness. Another way is by providing a platform for exchange of data and other information. Equally, experts in the field debrief migrants to build up a clearer picture of the routes used, prices paid and other modi operandi of the smuggling networks involved.

The cruel sea
The maritime domain remains the most complicated for border control, not least legally. The provisions of national and international maritime law and their impact on migration management, make the seas the most challenging environment for operations. It is for this reason that for many years, Frontex has been encouraging greater coordination between the southern member states themselves through the European Patrols Network (EPN) – an initiative to increase efficiency, improve information sharing and reduce overlapping of efforts and the incumbent gaps they leave in surveillance. It was the existing EPN provisions in the Mediterranean that formed the basis of Frontex’s operational response to the migration flows from North Africa. And it is the EPN that will be strengthened as a combined surveillance response going forward. EPN will form an essential component of EUROSUR, the common European surveillance system now being developed. It will also help to enhance Europe’s search-and-rescue capacity in the Mediterranean.

But as has been said many times, border control is no panacea. It is the last line of control and rescue. Its rightful place is at the heart of a far-reaching IBM [Integrated Border Management] system that includes deterrents against illegal migration as well as incentives for legal migration, and that tackles the root causes of such migration in countries of origin and transit. To put it simply, prevention is better than cure, and by the time migrants reach the external EU border it is often too late.

The most effective way to tackle the dangers of illegal migration by sea is to deter migrants from setting out in the first place. Only when this principle is enshrined at the EU policy level can it be claimed that the Union is seriously tackling illegal migration and cross-border crime.”

Click here for link to full text of article.

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European Commission: Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum for 2010

The Commission released its second Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum for 2010 on 24 May (COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL).  Accompanying the 12 page Report is an 82 page Staff Working Paper.  Excerpts from the Commission press release regarding the Report:

“On Asylum:

  • Negotiations on all asylum legislative proposals must be finalised by the end of 2012, as agreed by the European Council.
  • The recent events in the Southern Mediterranean confirm the necessity of having in place a common asylum system at EU level. This implies better EU legislation, strengthened practical cooperation coordinated by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), concrete solidarity between Member States and increased cooperation with third countries.
  • Agreement must be reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the EU joint resettlement scheme.
  • The EU relocation pilot project with Malta, the legislative reforms adopted by Greece and the ongoing support the country has received in the implementation of the Action Plan are concrete examples of the combination of responsibility and solidarity that are needed to build the Common European Asylum System.”

“On preventing irregular migration:

  • Member States must fully transpose the Employer Sanctions Directive by July 2011, which is essential for preventing irregular migration and for the credibility of legal migration.
  • Member States must step up measures against trafficking in human beings, including assistance given to victims under Directive 2004/81/EC with a view to dismantling networks of traffickers while strengthening rights of the victims.
  • Member States must fully transpose and implement the Return Directive and continue to make use of the opportunity offered by this Directive to foster voluntary departure as the preferred return option.
  • The use of joint return flights should be continued, by making full use of the European Return Fund and FRONTEX coordination, and including the presence of forced return monitors as required under the Return Directive.
  • Member States should systematically add entry bans in the Schengen Information System in order to give full effect to the European dimension of entry bans issued under the Return Directive.”

“On effective Border Control:

  • The European Parliament and the Council must agree on the proposed amendment to the FRONTEX Regulation as soon as possible, to provide a proper legal basis to strengthen the functioning of the agency.
  • All Schengen border-crossing points should be properly equipped, border surveillance properly ensured, and border guards trained to use new IT tools, as stipulated in the Schengen Border Code.
  • The feasibility of setting up a European Borders Guard System should be considered.
  • Local Schengen cooperation must be fully exploited in order to ensure a fully harmonised and streamlined visa procedure, in particular for the benefit of bona fide travellers.
  • Member States should continue to prepare the ground for establishing EUROSUR, the entry/exit system and the registered traveller programme.
  • To better coordinate the checks at the external borders the Commission will present proposals in 2012, in order to improve interagency cooperation between FRONTEX, EUROPOL, national customs and police authorities.”

I have reproduced about half of the Annual Report here, but have not had time to begin reading the Staff Working Paper.

Excerpts from Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2010):


The present Annual Report is presented in response to the request made by the European Council when adopting the 2008 Pact on Immigration and Asylum[1] and covers the developments during 2010 in the implementation of the Pact and the relevant priorities of the Stockholm Programme adopted in 2009[2], both at the EU and the national level. The report has been prepared on the basis of Member States’ contributions and other information, in particular reports from the National Contact Points (NCPs) of the European Migration Network (EMN).

The report summarises and assesses developments at the EU and the national level[3], and puts forward recommendations for future action.

II. Entering and Residing in the EU


1. Legal migration – ensuring a legal way to enter the EU


2. Asylum – granting international protection and ensuring solidarity

In 2009 Member States recorded 266 400 asylum applications, the number in 2010 was 257 815, a slight decrease of 3%. While Poland, Italy, Hungary and Malta received less asylum-seekers in 2010 than in 2009, significant increases were recorded in Germany, Belgium and Sweden.

In 2010, the most important countries of citizenship of asylum-seekers in the EU were, in order: Afghanistan (20 580), Russia (18 500), Serbia (17 715, excluding Kosovo*[4]), Iraq (15 800) and Somalia (14 350).

In 2010, 55 095 asylum-seekers received a protection status in the EU at first instance (refugee, subsidiary protection or humanitarian). Protection was therefore granted in 25% of decisions taken in first-instance procedures.

In 2009, 7 147 refugees were resettled in the EU from third countries. The figure for 2010 was [until Q3] 3 848.

Legislative progress was slow and difficult in the field of asylum in 2010. The co-legislators agreed on the extension of the scope of the Long-Term Residents Directive to beneficiaries of international protection, and made some progress on the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations as well as on the Qualification Directive. To give an impulse to the stalled negotiations on the Reception Conditions and Asylum Procedures Directives, the Commission will adopt modified proposals on these two instruments in June 2011.

The adoption in 2010 of the Regulation for the creation of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) was a significant development. The Commission is working actively so that the EASO becomes operational in June this year in view of boosting practical cooperation.

Solidarity among Member States is needed as one of the components of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). A pilot project for the relocation from Malta to ten Member States of approx. 250 beneficiaries of international protection is running and will be extended beyond its originally intended duration so as to facilitate the relocation of recently-arrived migrants in need of international protection.

Following the submission of an Action Plan to the European Commission in August 2010, Greece has embarked on a comprehensive overhaul of its asylum and migration system, and has received support from the Commission, the Member States, Norway, the UNHCR and other EU partners. Asylum Expert Teams coordinated by the EASO are now deployed there. Important new legislation has already been adopted by Greece in 2010, and its implementation is underway.

Existing Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) in Tanzania and Eastern Europe continued; the implementation of a new RPP in the Horn of Africa region started in September, in close cooperation with the UNHCR; and work advanced on the development of another RPP in North-Eastern Africa (Egypt, Libya and Tunisia).

Resettlement is equally essential in this context. Negotiations on the creation of a Joint EU Resettlement Programme must come to an operational and positive end. A strategic approach and political steering on the use of resettlement is needed.

  • Negotiations on all asylum legislative proposals must be finalised by the 2012 deadline.
  • The recent events in the Mediterranean and the need to restructure the asylum systems of some Member States confirm the necessity of creating a common procedure and a uniform status at EU level. This implies better EU legislation, strengthened practical cooperation coordinated by the EASO, a concrete multifaceted commitment to solidarity and an increased investment in cooperation with third countries.
  • Agreement must be reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the EU Joint resettlement scheme.
  • The EU relocation pilot project with Malta, the legislative reforms which have been adopted by Greece and the ongoing support it has received in the implementation of the Action Plan are concrete examples of the combination of responsibility and solidarity that are needed to build the CEAS.

3. Integration – a key element both for migrants and receiving societies


III. Addressing irregular migration to facilitate regular migration

In 2009, the number of irregularly staying third country nationals apprehended in the EU-27 was about 570 000 (7% less than in 2008). Member States returned about 253 000 third country nationals (4.7% more than in 2008).

In 2010 63% (i.e. about 20 000 detections) of illegal border-crossings into the EU were detected in 3Q2010 at the Greek/Turkey land border.

Effective measures aimed at preventing irregular immigration and at securing safe borders are an essential component of a coherent and credible EU immigration policy, but this policy must be fair and human rights must be respected.

1. Instruments for fighting irregular migration

Two legal key instruments have been adopted in recent years – the Return Directive 2008/115/EC and the Employer Sanctions’ Directive 2009/52/EC. They are in place now, but their state of transposition is far from satisfactory, in particular with respect to the Return Directive, where the implementation deadline passed on 24 December 2010. That is why its full and timely transposition is essential. Those provisions, which directly confer rights on migrants, may be, and already are, invoked in proceedings before national courts, and directly applied at the national level, regardless of whether national transposition legislation is in place.

Reinforced border control and cooperation with third countries, notably via readmission agreements, have already proved their effectiveness, as demonstrated in some Member States which have reported on their deterrent effect and on better-functioning return arrangements. However, there remains room for improving the effectiveness of readmission agreements at the EU level, as set out in the Commission’s Communication on the Evaluation of EU Readmission Agreements (COM(2011)76). It is also clear that the higher number of joint return flights coordinated by Frontex in 2010 have been a success, earning the agency further support and increased financial means. Moreover, the 29 measures agreed by the Council to reinforce the protection of the external borders and combating illegal immigration are now being implemented. In its Staff Working Document[5] on the fulfilment of these 29 measures, the Commission reported in detail on progress achieved with regard to each measure, putting a special emphasis on the role played by Frontex, the development of EUROSUR and the ongoing dialogue on migration with main countries of origin and transit as part of the implementation of the Global Approach. These measures need to be accelerated and given priority.

The Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims, the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator appointed by the Commission and a website on fight against trafficking in human beings[6] launched in 2010 have equipped the EU with new powers and ways to fight against this modern form of slavery. The recently adopted implementation report on Directive 2004/81/EC[7] on residence permits for victims of trafficking also called for their more effective protection, which should also help to dismantle networks of traffickers.

  • Member States must fully transpose the Employer Sanctions Directive by July 2011, essential for fighting irregular migration and for the credibility of legal migration.
  • Member States must step up measures against trafficking in human beings, including assistance given to victims under Directive 2004/81/EC with a view to dismantling networks of traffickers while strengthening rights of the victims.
  • The Return Directive must be fully transposed and implemented by the Member States who should continue to make use of the opportunity offered by this Directive to foster voluntary departure as the preferred return option.
  • The use of joint return flights should be continued, by making full use of the European Return Fund and FRONTEX coordination, and including the presence of forced return monitors as required under the Return Diretcive.
  • Member States should systematically add entry bans in the SIS in order to give full effect to the European dimension of entry bans issued under the Return Directive.

2. Effective border control

In 2010 the Commission proposed a Regulation on the establishment of an evaluation mechanism to verify the correct application of the Schengen acquis. In the light of recent experiences, its adoption must be a priority, so that the EU is better equipped to enforce a uniform application of the rules and take the appropriate measures if this would not be the case. Development of the Visa Information System (VIS) continued with the completion of the second and third major testing phases out of a total of four. Final agreement was reached on the technical specifications for the interaction of SIS II with the national systems. Member States continued to prepare the ground for establishing EUROSUR in line with the roadmap. EUROSUR will gradually establish a mechanism whereby Member States’ authorities carrying out border surveillance can cooperate and share operational information with each other and with Frontex, in order to reinforce the control of the external border of the Schengen area, especially its southern maritime and eastern land borders, and step up the fight against irregular migration and cross border crime. During the past year, the EU has faced critical situations at its borders, where it was confronted with high inflows of irregular migrants. This has been, and continues to represent, a major a test for the EU’s ability to react quickly and efficiently, while the Member States most directly concerned by migratory movements have required assistance in a spirit of solidarity. The achievements of Frontex are now broadly recognised and there is widespread agreement on the need to upgrade its role in order to enable it to be more effective.

The results of concerted EU action to tackle border-related crises have been mixed. On the one hand, the EU and the Member States have demonstrated that they are capable of responding decisively to address specific challenges faced by a Member State in effectively controlling its external borders. For the first time, following a request made by Greece related to the pressure on its land borders with Turkey, use was made of Frontex’s Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT). The swift deployment of the RABIT, strongly supported by participating Member States, stabilised the situation and brought down the number of arrivals compared to the peaks in 2010. Malta has recently requested deployment of the RABIT in view of the situation in the southern Mediterranean.

On the other hand, one of the lessons learnt from these events is that both increased cooperation and uniform application of the acquis must be better and more effectively ensured by all Member States. Coordinated preventive EU action vis à vis countries of origin is still slow and weak.

  • The European Parliament and the Council must agree on the proposed amendment to the FRONTEX Regulation as soon as possible, to provide a proper legal basis to strengthen the functioning of the agency.
  • All Schengen border-crossing points should be properly equipped, border surveillance properly ensured, and border guards trained to use new IT tools, as stipulated in the Schengen Borders Code.
  • The proposed Schengen evaluation mechanism must be adopted, in order to foster mutual trust between Member States and EU institutions on the correct, uniform and coherent application of the Schengen Acquis.
  • The feasibility of setting up a European Border Guard System should be considered.
  • Local Schengen cooperation must be fully exploited in order to ensure a fully harmonised and streamlined visa procedure in particular for the benefit of bona fide travellers.
  • With a view to developing a fully reliable system of EU border control, Member States should continue to prepare the ground for establishing EUROSUR, and explore the desirability of putting in place an entry/exit system and a registered traveller programme.
  • To better coordinate the checks at the external borders the Commission will present proposals in 2012, in order to improve interagency cooperation between FRONTEX, EUROPOL, national customs and police authorities.

IV. Unaccompanied minors – a specific challenge


V. The External Dimension of EU migration Policy – The Global Approach


[1]               http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st13/st13440.en08.pdf.

[3]               A Commission Staff Working Paper provides more detail.

[4]               * Under UNSCR 1244/1999.

[5]               SEC (2010) 1480 final of 26.11.2010.

[7]               COM(2010) 493.”

Click here for Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2010)

Click here for Staff Working Paper.

Click here for Press Release.

Click here for 2009 Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum.

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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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Bulgaria Prepares for Admission to Schengen Zone and Begins Patrols on Black Sea

The Sofia News Agency Novinite reports that Bulgaria has added five new coast guard ships which will soon begin patrolling Bulgaria’s Black Sea border.  The patrols are a requirement for Bulgaria’s impending admission to the Schengen Zone which is set to occur in March 2011.

The ships will reportedly be included in “Bulgaria’s integrated system for the observation of the sea border, which is part of the European External Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)” and “will be taking part in operations of the Frontex Agency … under the European Patrol Network project.”

Click here for article.

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European Patrol Network Meeting, 23-24 Sept.

The quarterly meeting of the European Patrol Network (EPN) will be held 23 and 24 September in Bruges.  EPN was established by Frontex and unites the members of the agency’s operational branch of the ‘Joint Maritime Operations’.

According to the Belgian Police EU Presidency Newsletter, 7th Edition, the purpose of the meeting is to “allow the participating countries to ensure better coordination of the operations….  A number of technical points will come up for discussion, but for instance also the progress of the [Frontex] 2010 Joint Operations, the creation of a national coordination centre, the issue of the interpreters, as well as the Eurosur project. At present the efforts of the EPN are mostly focused on the Mediterranean, due to the immigration pressure from this region.”  (The Newsletter says the meeting is scheduled for October, but the Belgian Integrated Police – Belgian Presidency of the EU website indicates the meeting is 23-24 September.)

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EU Conference on Space and Security

One of the decisions taken at last month’s meeting of the Council of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) was a decision concerning EUROSUR (the European Surveillance System)  and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) where the Council agreed “[…] To invite the Commission to report before the end of 2010 on how the conclusions of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) border surveillance group on common application of surveillance tools, such as satellites, could be implemented in the EU land and sea borders”.

On 10 and 11 March the Spanish EU Presidency is sponsoring a Conference on Space and Security in Madrid.  “The Conference seeks to facilitate a structured dialogue amongst all actors involved in Security-related Space matters embedded in two main programmes: GMES and SSA…. The aim is to build upon the status of discussions on these two programmes in Space Council Resolutions, in GMES Communications from the European Commission and in GMES-related Conferences of previous EU Presidencies (Graz, Munich, Lisbon, Portoroz, Lille, Prague and Stockholm).”

As noted in a Draft Input Paper posted on the Conference web site, one of the topics under discussion is a focus on the security aspects of space monitoring:  “[S]ince its inception, the security element of GMES focused on environmental applications and, to a much lesser extent, civilian security applications. Reflecting on current political dynamics, GMES stakeholders are now taking initiatives to strengthen the ‘S’ in GMES by creating synergies between civilian and military actors.”

“The 2008 EU Council Conclusions on GMES call on the Commission to foster the implementation of GMES security related services to support the related European Union policies. (Council Conclusions on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES): “Towards a GMES programme”, 16722/08 of 2 December 2008.)  Border surveillance, maritime surveillance and support to EU External Action have been identified as priority areas for action.”

Click here for the draft EC/ESA Joint Secretariat Input Paper on Space and Security, Feb. 2010.

Click here for ESA GMES page.

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JHA Council Conclusions on 29 measures for Reinforcing External Borders and Combating Illegal Immigration

Here are excerpts from the Justice and Home Affairs Council conclusions adopted on 25 February 2010:

“Council conclusions on 29 measures for reinforcing the protection of the external borders and combating illegal immigration

2998th JUSTICE and HOME AFFAIRS Council meeting – Brussels, 25 and 26 February 2010

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

The Council:

a) Taking into account the momentum created for the further development of the area of freedom, security and justice represented by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and by the political priorities included in the Stockholm Programme, the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the Global Approach to Migration and the European Council Conclusions of June and October 2009; [***]

d) Stressing the need to share and assess analysis of the continuing illegal arrivals of migrants at the southern maritime borders, as well as the eastern land borders, as shown in particular by recent events in the Mediterranean area, and of the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, which often have tragic consequences; and to take a series of measures immediately, in the short term and medium term, in order to address the challenges;

e) Underlining that all measures and actions taken as a consequence of these conclusions shall fully respect human rights, the protection of persons in need of international protection and the principle of non-refoulement; [***]

Concerning the activities of FRONTEX, the Council has agreed:

1. To seek agreement as a matter of urgency on the Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the FRONTEX Regulation, in order to reinforce the capabilities of the FRONTEX Agency. [***]

4. To improve operational cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, in order to improve joint patrolling on land and at sea, upon consent of the Member State concerned, return, and collection and exchange of relevant information within the applicable legal framework, and other effective preventive measures in the field of border management and illegal immigration.

5. To underline the importance of the role of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in developing methods to better identify those who are in need of international protection in mixed flows and in cooperating with FRONTEX where ever possible, and to welcome the development of the regional protection programs and the enhancement of the dialogue and cooperation on international protection with third countries. [***]

9. To invite FRONTEX to implement its decision to carry out a pilot project for the creation of an operational office in the eastern Mediterranean, in Piraeus, as soon as possible in 2010. The Council takes note that Frontex has agreed that, on the basis of an independent external evaluation, it may decide whether to pursue the pilot project and/or establish other Frontex operational offices as appropriate, and invites FRONTEX to report to Council on the matter.

Concerning the development of the European Surveillance System – EUROSUR, the Council has agreed:

10. To call on the Member States to implement the phases and steps laid down for the development of EUROSUR as soon as possible, in order to reinforce cooperation and Member States’ border surveillance capabilities. The Council invites the European Commission to report on EUROSUR progress on mid-2010.

11. To urge relevant Member States to establish or further develop a single national border surveillance system and a single national Coordination Centre. A network of national Coordination Centres, compatible with the FRONTEX Information System, and available on a 24/7 basis in real time, should be fully operational on a pilot basis as of 2011, involving as many Member States of the southern and eastern external borders as possible. The Commission is invited to present legislative proposals if necessary to consolidate the network of Member States by 2013.

12. To create a Common pre-frontier intelligence picture in order to provide the Coordination Centres with pre-frontier information provided by Member States, Frontex and third countries. To this end, the Council invites Frontex, in close cooperation with the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to implement the study carried out by the Commission in 2009.

13. To encourage cooperation by neighbouring third countries in border surveillance. It is essential that within the territorial scope of EUROSUR and in the current financial framework, financial and logistic support from the European Union and its Member States be made available to the third countries whose cooperation could significantly contribute to controlling illegal immigration flows, in order to improve their capacity to manage their own borders.

14. To invite the Commission to report before the end of 2010 on how the conclusions of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) border surveillance group on common application of surveillance tools, such as satellites, could be implemented in the EU land and sea borders. [***]

Concerning solidarity and the integrated management of external borders by the Member States, the Council has agreed:

17. To request Frontex and the Member States concerned to further develop the European Patrols Network (EPN) in order to generalize bilateral joint maritime patrols, in particular between neighbouring Member States at the southern and eastern maritime borders, taking into account the experience gained on joint police patrols in the context of the Prüm Decision, and to ensure the full integration of the EPN in the EUROSUR network. [***]

Concerning the cooperation with third countries, the Council has agreed:

22. To ensure that the migration policy objectives are at the centre of the political dialogue with relevant third countries of origin and transit, with a view to the strategic, evidence based and systematic implementation of the Global Approach to Migration in all its dimensions, i.e. legal migration, illegal immigration and migration and development. This also requires, as a matter of principle, that all parties concerned assume their responsibilities in terms of return and readmission of migrants entering or staying illegally, including those migrants who have entered or tried to enter the European Union illegally from their territory. [***]

24. To enhance in particular the implementation of the Global Approach in the dialogue on migration with the main countries of origin and transit, such as, in accordance with the Stockholm Programme, those of the Mediterranean area, the East and South-Eastern Europe and Africa. This process may cover, on a case by case basis, all aspects of migration, including also cooperation on and support of border management, return and readmission, and, where appropriate, mobility issues. In doing so, the EU will promote human rights and the full respect for relevant international obligations. Dialogue and cooperation should be further developed also with other countries and regions such as those in Asia and Latin America on the basis of the identification of common interests and challenges.

25. To implement actively the European Council Conclusions of June and October 2009, including in particular by taking forward the dialogue on migration with Libya, with a view to setting up in the short term an effective cooperation. The Commission is invited to explore, as a matter of urgency, a cooperation agenda between the European Union and Libya with a view to including initiatives on maritime cooperation, border management (including possibilities for the development of an integrated surveillance system), international protection, effective return and readmission of irregular migrants and issues of mobility of persons.

26. To welcome the constructive resumption of the formal negotiations on a EU/Turkey readmission agreement, which makes provision for the return of third country nationals, and to call for its conclusion as a matter of urgency, and to stress that adequate implementation of already existing bilateral readmission agreements remains a priority. Building on the dialogue now under way with Turkey, the Council invites the Commission, the Member States and Turkey to further develop cooperation on migration, international protection and mobility issues. The Commission is also invited, in the context of the existing Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) financial framework, to explore possibilities to provide adequate financial means to improve Turkish capacity to tackle illegal migration, including support to the implementation of the Turkish integrated border management system.

27. To underline the importance of swift finalisation of the negotiation of Article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement, the revision of which should seek to reinforce the three dimensions of the Global Approach, and in particular the effectiveness of readmission obligations.

28. To invite the Commission to identify the necessary means to support enhanced capacity building and infrastructures in relevant third countries, so that they can control efficiently their external borders and tackle illegal immigration, taking also into account the assessments made by FRONTEX.

29. To invite the Commission to report on the implementation of these Conclusions by the end of 2010.”

Click here for full Document.

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Frontex: UAV Workshop and Demonstration Event for Maritime Surveillance

Frontex has issued a press release:

“In the context of the development of a common European border surveillance system (EUROSUR), Member States are expected to improve and harmonise their surveillance activities in order to ensure effective detection of illegal immigration and cross-border crime. In the maritime domain, there is a wide spectrum of possible technical means that can be employed to provide effective surveillance … [h]owever, it is clear that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) could also play an important role in further enhancing border surveillance in the future, though they face a number of technical and other challenges.

Following last year’s successful mini-UAV demonstration event in Finland focusing on surveillance of land borders, Frontex R&D Unit intends to organise a UAV workshop and real-flight demonstration event at the beginning of June 2010 in Spain covering the maritime domain. …”

Click here for full press release.

Click here for Frontex press release regarding its 24 May Conference on “Surveillance Technology for Border Control.”

Click here for IPS article: “Military Technology to Track Down Migrants?”

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