Tag Archives: Justice and Home Affairs

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states

Statewatch released an Analysis by Yasha Maccanico entitled “The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states.”  The Analysis provides a description of Italy’s responses to the migrant arrivals in 2011 caused by the unrest in North Africa.

Excerpts:  “The ‘crisis’ reveals questionable practices and routine abuses – The measures adopted in response to the increasing number of migrants arriving from north African countries serve to highlight a number of practices that have become commonplace in Italy in recent years.

The first of these is a widening of the concept of ‘emergency.’ Calling an emergency gives the government a wider remit to derogate from specified laws so as to resolve situations that cannot be dealt with through ordinary measures….

Although the situation in north Africa was worrying, the emergency was called when slightly over 5,000 migrants had arrived. An analysis by Massimiliano Vrenna and Francesca Biondi Dal Monte for ASGI notes that the government has repeatedly called and extended states of emergency since 2002 to deal with immigration, which is treated as though it were a “natural calamity” even when there is a wholly predictable influx of people from third countries. The urgent need specified in decrees declaring a state of emergency is to conduct ‘activities to counter the exceptional – later referred to as massive – influx of immigrants on Italian territory’ (as happened on 11 December 2002, 7 November 2003, 23 December 2004, 28 October 2005, 16 March 2007, 31 December 2007, 14 February 2008 for Sicily, Calabria and Apulia and was extended to the whole nation on 25 July 2008 and 19 November 2009), stemming from a prime ministerial decree of 20 March 2002. Thus, Vrenna and Biondi Dal Monte’s observation that the emergency is ‘structural’ appears well-founded. It has serious repercussions for the treatment of migrants (see below) and the awarding of contracts outside of normal procedures, with the involvement of the civil protection department whose competencies have been expanding considerably.

The second practice involves the expulsion, refoulement or deportation of migrants outside the limits and procedures established by legislation for this purpose. The failure to identify people, to issue formal decisions on an individual basis to refuse them entry or expel them, or to give them the opportunity to apply for asylum or other forms of protection, was a key concern when boats were intercepted at sea and either the vessels or their passengers were taken back to Libya between May and September 2009, when 1,329 people were returned. These rights were also denied to people arriving from Egypt and Tunisia in application of readmission agreements in the framework of the fight against illegal migration. Their presumed nationality was deemed sufficient to enact expulsions to these countries, because ongoing cooperation and good relations with Italy appeared sufficient to indicate that they were not in need of protection, regardless of the situation in their home countries. ….

The third practice is the ill-treatment of migrants held in detention centres. Without dealing with this issue in depth, it is worth noting that what could be viewed as arbitrary detention is occurring on a large scale, in the absence of formal measures decreeing detention and without the possibility of appealing against decisions. In fact, after landing, migrants are summarily identified as either ‘illegal’ migrants or asylum seekers, largely on the basis of their nationality….”

Click here for Analysis.

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JHA Council: Commission is Studying Different Funding Possibilities to Assist with Impact of Migratory Flows from North Africa

A Justice and Home Affairs press release summarizing today’s JHA Council meeting includes the following brief summary regarding the topic of migratory flows from North Africa:

“Over lunch, ministers discussed the situation in Northern Africa, and particularly the situation in Libya and the influx of migrants, above all from Tunisia to Italy. Since the beginning of the year, some 6000 immigrants have arrived mainly to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Following a formal request for help from the Italian Ministry of Interior, received on February 15, Frontex and Italy have started a Joint Operation in the central Mediterranean area on Sunday 20 February. Joint Operation Hermes 2011, originally planned to commence in June, was thus brought forward. Assets and experts for this operation were made available from a large number of EU member states. More information.  In addition to that, the Commission is studying different funding possibilities through various EU instruments, such as the European Refugee Fund, the European Return Fund and the European Border Fund.”

It is unclear whether the JHA Council will address this topic further tomorrow when the Council meeting resumes.

Click here for full JHA press release.

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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.

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Italy Requests Urgent Deployment of Frontex Patrols to Coast of Tunisia

Italy on Friday requested an urgent meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council to address the immigration situation that is developing with Tunisia and the arrivals in Italy of over 2000 Tunisians over the past two days.  Interior Minister Maroni said that the bilateral cooperation agreement between Italy and Tunisia that has in the past controlled departures from Tunisia is not being implemented due to the crisis within Tunisia. (“Il problema è che l’accordo bilaterale che abbiamo con la Tunisia che ha permesso finora di gestire in modo efficace l’immigrazione clandestina, non viene attuato da Tunisi per la situazione di crisi. C’è una incapacità di fronteggiare la situazione da parte dell’autorità tunisina”.)

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

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JHA Council 8 Nov. Meeting Results

The Justice and Home Affairs Council met on 8 November.  A Council press release containing the “provisional version” of the main results of the meeting includes the following summaries relating to the CEAS and FRONTEX:

“Common European Asylum System (CEAS) – Ministers continued work on the establishment of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) on the basis of a discussion paper (15561/10). The CEAS includes a package of six legislative proposals which EU member states have committed to adopt by 2012.

The main focus of the debate was on the developments since the October Council, in particular as regards the four proposals that have been identified as priority instruments on the legislative side of the CEAS: the Directives on Qualification and on Long Term Residents and the Regulations on Dublin II and Eurodac. Furthermore, the Presidency identified a number of possible priority objectives, reflecting the discussion at the discussion at the Ministerial Conference on Asylum in September 2010, for the new European Asylum Support Office (EASO) . The EASO will soon be operational and is designed to become an important tool for practical cooperation and solidarity in the asylum area. …

FRONTEX regulation –  The [Mixed Committee (the EU plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland)] discussed the state-of-play concerning revised rules for the external borders agency FRONTEX. Some of the issues outstanding include the development of a common integrated risk analysis model, the processing of personal data and the creation of a European system of border guards.

Council preparatory bodies will continue to discuss the text. Negotiations with the European Parliament have not yet started.

On 24 February 2010 the Commission submitted a proposal to amend Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 (6898/10)….

Click here for Council press release.

Click here for Background paper for the JHA Council meeting.

Click here for the CEAS discussion paper.

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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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Cecilia Malmström: New EC Commissioner for Justice & Home Affairs

After an 8 month delay, the European Parliament has approved a new term for European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and his 26 commissioners.

The new Commissioner with responsibility for Justice and Home Affairs is Cecilia Malmström.

Click here for link to the Commissioner’s new web site.

Click here for article about the Commissioner’s hearing before the EP.

Click here for article about the EP vote.

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