Tag Archives: France

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

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

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

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

1 Comment

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

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

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

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

Click here (IT) for article.

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

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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


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

Le Pen in Lampedusa: Migrants Should Be Stopped At Sea

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

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

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Click here (FR) for article.

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

Leave a comment

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

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

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

Click here (IT) for article.

1 Comment

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

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

From the US Energy Information Administration:

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

Click here for link.

(HT to tweet by @johnwilcockson)

1 Comment

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

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

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

Click here article.

1 Comment

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

Frontex’s Role to be One of Coordination

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

Click here for article.

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

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

WikiLeaks 2008 US Cable: Background Regarding EU-Libya Framework Agreement Negotiations

This cable provides the views of the US Embassy in Tripoli regarding the state of the EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations in July 2008.  It was written by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, John Godfrey.  The cable is titled: “THE EU-LIBYA FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT: VENI, VISAS, VETO.”  The cable states that Libya views the EU Framework Agreement as “a ‘reward’ for Libya’s decision in July 2007 to release six [Bulgarian and Palestinian] health workers accused of intentionally infecting over 400 Libyan children with HIV/AIDS.”  The cable describes threats to veto the framework agreement by individual EU member states in an effort to secure bi-lateral concessions from Libya and describes Libya’s claim that the “draft language initialed by [EU] Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner ‘commits’ the EU …  to funding a ‘surveillance mechanism’ along Libya’s land and sea borders to combat illegal migration.”

Most of the cable’s text follows:

“(C)  Summary.  The Government of Libya (GOL) remains keenly interested in pursuing a European Union-Libya Framework Agreement and views a more formalized partnership with the European Union (EU) as a “reward” for Libya’s decision in July 2007 to release six foreign health workers accused of intentionally infecting over 400 Libyan children with HIV/AIDS. Certain EU members, unsure that a more formal cooperation mechanism would be beneficial and sensing Libya’s eagerness, have used the threat of a veto to push their bilateral agendas, particularly with respect to commercial and human rights issues.  One year after Libya and the EU agreed in principle to pursue an agreement, a sizeable perception gap exists between the two sides on the merits of a more formalized partnership.  Despite occasional differences with the EU, most recently over the French-backed Union for the Mediterranean proposal, the GOL will continue to seek an EU framework agreement, in large part because of Muammar al-Qadhafi’s desire to be taken seriously by European leaders. End summary.


2.  (C)  Libya’s much-heralded decision in July 2007 to [release] six foreign health workers imprisoned since 1999 on charges of intentionally infecting children in Benghazi with the HIV/AIDS virus frames current discussions on an EU-Libya Framework Agreement.  Widely seen by Europeans in Libya as a successful alignment of European and Libyan interests, the denoument of the Bulgarian medics case – particularly their immediate pardon upon their arrival in Bulgaria – remains a lasting embarrassment for key elements of the Libyan regime.  The GOL, preoccupied with avoiding the public perception that it caved to foreign pressure to resolve the case, has trumpeted a putative EU framework agreement as a significant concession and a positive coup for Libyan diplomacy.  In an hours-long televised news conference just days after the medics left, Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgham and Under Secretary for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi boasted that a draft agreement, initialed by EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner during her July 2007 visit to Tripoli, would pave the way for easier access to Schengen visas for Libyan citizens and increased EU infrastructure investments in Libya. Ferrero-Waldner’s announcement in February 2008 that the EU Commission had submitted a recommendation to the Council of Ministers to grant a mandate to open negotiations with Libya stoked GOL hopes for rapid progress.

3.  (C)  French, Spanish, and German diplomats describe Libya’s primary objective in pursuing an EU framework agreement as reducing the mandatory waiting period for Schengen visas for Libyan nationals from the current 10 days to 48 hours.  …

4.  (C)  The July 2007 EU-Libya draft also lays out cooperation in the fields of human rights, health, and development.  U/S Obeidi informed French Ambassador Francois Gouyette in June 2008 that Libya agreed in principle to negotiate a human rights chapter within the framework agreement; however, Obeidi categorically refused to include discussions of individual human rights cases in the EU negotiations.  … In addition, the GOL has claimed that draft language initialed by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner “commits” the EU …  to funding a “surveillance mechanism” along Libya’s land and sea borders to combat illegal migration.


5.  (C)  Certain EU members, sensing Libya’s eagerness to move ahead, have threatened to block a framework agreement as a means by which to secure bilateral concessions, chiefly on commercial and human rights issues.  Italian Economic and Commercial Counselor Domenico Bellantone said that Italy is prepared to veto any framework agreement unless Libya ends a series of discriminatory commercial practices that target Italian firms operating in Libya.  …  French and Greek diplomats in Tripoli have hinted that they may also dangle a veto threat to resolve commercial disputes.  The Netherlands have approached certain EU members about a possible veto over Libya’s outstanding private debt to Dutch firms. Danish Consul-General George Wallen recently told EU Ambassadors in Tripoli that Denmark would veto a framework agreement with Libya unless the GOL lifts bans on Danish imports and Danish participation in infrastructure projects in Libya (prompted by a Danish magazine’s re-publishing in February 2008 of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad).  Denmark also wants the GOL to release Jamal al-Hajj, a Danish-Libyan dual-national arrested on February 16, 2007 in connection with plans to hold a peaceful political demonstration.  Maltese diplomats have said Malta is considering a veto over dissatisfaction with Libya’s maritime patrols in its designated Search and Rescue (SAR) area and continuing concerns over the lack of cooperation by the GOL in efforts to stem the flow of irregular migrants from Libya to Europe.

6.  (C) European diplomats believe that apart from help in combating illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia through Libya to Europe, Europe has little to gain from a closer partnership with Tripoli.  In absence of a more formal agreement, some European countries have pursued bilateral cooperation that they privately assess as being more nimble and effective than broader cooperation under an EU framework agreement might be.  Italian diplomats characterized a recent donation of six vessels to Libya’s coast guard and an offer to train Libyan border security officials as Italy’s bilateral response to what they view as a lack of meaningful EU engagement on illegal migrant flows through Libya.  Greek DCM Ioannis Stamatekos lauded Italy’s move and said Greece may follow suit. Maltese Poloff Daniel Malina said that Malta, lacking resources to make a large equipment donation, hoped to keep the critical migration issue on the EU’s radar during Council deliberations over the Commission’s mandate to pursue the framework agreement.


7.  (C)  Twelve months have passed since Ferrero-Waldner initialed a draft memorandum on an EU-Libya framework agreement; however, a year of inaction does not appear to have dampened GOL perceptions that relations with Europe are on an up-swing. While senior European diplomats in Tripoli are quick to point out that formal negotiations with Libya on any kind of European-Libyan cooperation agreement have yet to even begin, many GOL officials speak of key Libyan negotiating positions, such as the 48-hour Schengen visa point, as if they’re already in place. …  A series of high-level European visits, most recently that of Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, have helped attenuate the GOL’s disappointment over what it perceives as slow progress on the framework agreement and on implementing commitments made during al-Qadhafi’s visits to Spain and France in December 2007.

8. (C) Comment: Libya’s interest in a closer partnership with Europe seems sincere; however, the GOL’s foreign policy, particularly at the senior levels, remains somewhat fickle. Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s visit to Madrid and Paris last December sparked a surge of pro-European rhetoric in Tripoli – in one instance, Qadhafi threatened to pull Libyan investment from sub-Saharan Africa to redirect to his new European friends.  More recently, though, al-Qadhafi orchestrated a meeting of Arab Maghreb Union leaders in Tripoli to publicly disparage Sarkozy’s Union for the Mediterannean proposal (reftel).  Characterizing the proposed union as “insulting”, he claimed it would undermine Arab and African member states’ commitments to the Arab League and African Union, and told former British Prime Minister Tony Blair he was concerned that the proposal represented an effort by southern European states to create a North African bulwark against illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa and to “further legitimize” Israel.  Despite such disagreements, Qadhafi’s interest in being taken seriously, particularly by his “friends Nicholas (Sarkozy) and Silvio (Berlusconi)”, will continue to drive the GOL’s keen interest in finalizing a framework agreement with the EU.  End comment.   GODFREY”

Click here or here for full cable.


Filed under Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, Netherlands, News, Spain

Spain and Senegal Renew Agreement Permitting Frontex to Operate From Dakar

Spain and Senegal have renewed a bi-lateral agreement permitting Frontex to operate from a base in Dakar for another year.

The Frontex mission in Senegal currently consists of two Spanish Guardia Civil patrol boats, a Spanish National Police helicopter, and a private airplane leased by the Spanish Defence Ministry.  One Frontex patrol boat also operates from Nuadibú, Mauritania.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said that France and Italy will soon be deploying additional assets and personnel to the Frontex mission in Senegal consisting of a ship and plane from Italy and a French security force team.  Rubalcaba stated that this new assistance demonstrates that “Spain is not alone” in the fight against the mafias responsible for the illegal boat arrivals to the coast this country. (“España no está sola” en la lucha contra las mafias responsables de las llegadas de embarcaciones irregulares a las costas de este país.)

Senegalese Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom, said that so far this year a total of 101 canoes from the coast of Senegal with 450 people aboard have been identified by the patrols. In 2006, the figures were 901 boats, with 35,490 irregular migrants.

Click here for article.  (ES)

1 Comment

Filed under Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, France, Frontex, Italy, Mauritania, News, Senegal, Spain

UNHCR Research Paper: Les violences faites aux femmes pendant leur voyage clandestin: Algérie, France, Espagne, Maroc

Un nouveau rapport du HCR (UNHCR Research Paper) par Smaïn Laacher a été publié: “Les violences faites aux femmes  pendant leur voyage clandestin: Algérie, France, Espagne, Maroc.”


“L‟objet de notre mission a porté sur les violences faites aux femmes migrantes pendant leur voyage clandestin. Les femmes qui constituent la population de notre étude sont des femmes qui ont quitté illégalement leur pays et ont voyagé jusqu‟au Maroc, en Algérie, en Espagne, et en France. *** Les violences subies par les femmes pendant leur voyage clandestine … , dont la plus destructrice est la violence sexuelle, visent principalement des êtres sans défense, c‟est-à-dire des femmes qui n‟ont pu ou qui ne peuvent pas être défendues, précisément parce qu‟elles n‟existent pour personne, si ce n‟est que pour elles-mêmes et pour leurs agresseurs. ***”

Cliquez ici pour télécharger le rapport.

Cliquez ici pour télécharger le rapport.

1 Comment

Filed under Algeria, France, Morocco, Reports, Spain, UNHCR