Tag Archives: Integrated Border Management

“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.

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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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