Tag Archives: asylum

EU New Pact on Migration & Asylum

Brussels 23.09.2020 Today, the European Commission is proposing a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, covering all of the different elements needed for a comprehensive European approach to migration. It sets out improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system. And it sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. This is crucial for rebuilding trust between Member States and confidence in the capacity of the European Union to manage migration.

Migration is a complex issue, with many facets that need to be weighed together. The safety of people who seek international protection or a better life, the concerns of countries at the EU’s external borders, which worry that migratory pressures will exceed their capacities and which need solidarity from others. Or the concerns of other EU Member States, which are concerned that, if procedures are not respected at the external borders, their own national systems for asylum, integration or return will not be able to cope in the event of large flows.

The current system no longer works. And for the past five years, the EU has not been able to fix it. The EU must overcome the current stalemate and rise up to the task. With the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission proposes common European solutions to a European challenge. The EU must move away from ad-hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system.

Following extensive consultations and an honest and holistic assessment of the situation, the Commission proposes to improve the overall system. This includes looking at ways of improving cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, ensuring effective procedures, successful integration of refugees and return of those with no right to stay. No single solution on migration can satisfy all sides, on all aspects – but by working together, the EU can find a common solution.

“We are proposing today a European solution, to rebuild trust between Member States and to restore citizens’ confidence in our capacity to manage migration as a Union. The EU has already proven in other areas that it can take extraordinary steps to reconcile diverging perspectives. We have created a complex internal market, a common currency and an unprecedented recovery plan to rebuild our economies. It is now time to rise to the challenge to manage migration jointly, with the right balance between solidarity and responsibility” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Moria is a stark reminder that the clock has run out on how long we can live in a house half-built. The time has come to rally around a common, European migration policy. The Pact provides the missing pieces of the puzzle for a comprehensive approach to migration. No one Member State experiences migration in the same way and the different and unique challenges faced by all deserve to be recognised, acknowledged and addressed” Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Migration has always been and always will be part of our societies. What we are proposing today will build a long-term migration policy that can translate European values into practical management. This set of proposals will mean clear, fair and faster border procedures, so that people do not have to wait in limbo. It means enhanced cooperation with third countries for fast returns, more legal pathways and strong actions to fight human smugglers. Fundamentally it protects the right to seek asylum”.

Stronger trust fostered by better and more effective procedures

The first pillar of the Commission’s approach to building confidence consists of more efficient and faster procedures. In particular, the Commission is proposing to introduce an integrated border procedure, which for the first time includes a pre-entry screening covering identification of all people crossing the EU’s external borders without permission or having been disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

This will also entail a health and a security check, fingerprinting and registration in the Eurodac database. After the screening, individuals can be channeled to the right procedure, be it at the border for certain categories of applicants or in a normal asylum procedure. As part of this border procedure, swift decisions on asylum or return will be made, providing quick certainty for people whose cases can be examined rapidly.

At the same time, all other procedures will be improved and subject to stronger monitoring and operational support from EU agencies. The EU’s digital infrastructure for migration management will be modernised to mirror and support these procedures.

Fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity

The second pillar at the core of the Pact is fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. Member States will be bound to act responsibly and in solidarity with one another. Each Member State, without any exception, must contribute in solidarity in times of stress, to help stabilize the overall system, support Member States under pressure and ensure that the Union fulfils its humanitarian obligations.

In respect of the different situations of Member States and of fluctuating migratory pressures, the Commission proposes a system of flexible contributions from the Member States. These can range from relocation of asylum seekers from the country of first entry to taking over responsibility for returning individuals with no right to stay or various forms of operational support.

While the new system is based on cooperation and flexible forms of support starting off on a voluntary basis, more stringent contributions will be required at times of pressure on individual Member States, based on a safety net.

The solidarity mechanism will cover various situations – including disembarkation of persons following search and rescue operations, pressure, crisis situations or other specific circumstances.

A change of paradigm in cooperation with non-EU countries

The EU will seek to promote tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries. These will help address shared challenges such as migrant smuggling, will help develop legal pathways and will tackle the effective implementation of readmission agreements and arrangements. The EU and its Member States will act in unity using a wide range of tools to support cooperation with third countries on readmission.

A comprehensive approach

Today’s package will also seek to boost a common EU system for returns, to make EU migration rules more credible. This will include a more effective legal framework, a stronger role of the European Border and Coast Guard, and a newly appointed EU Return Coordinator with a network of national representatives to ensure consistency across the EU.

It will also propose a common governance for migration with better strategic planning to ensure that EU and national policies are aligned, and enhanced monitoring of migration management on the ground to enhance mutual trust.

The management of external borders will be improved. The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps, scheduled for deployment from 1 January 2021, will provide increased support wherever needed.

A credible legal migration and integration policy will benefit European societies and economies. The Commission will launch Talent Partnerships with key non-EU countries that will match labour and skills needs in the EU. The Pact will strengthen resettlement and promote other complementary pathways, seeking to develop a European model of community or private sponsorship. The Commission will also adopt a new comprehensive Action Plan on integration and inclusion for 2021-2024.

COVID19: Belgium releases 297 migrants

Belgium Immigration Office has released almost three hundred migrants from the closed reception centers in order to comply with the hygiene measures regarding the corona virus pandemic. That is what Minister of Asylum and Migration Maggie De Block (Open Vld) said, informing the Parliament about the decision. She added that the releases were made on a case-by-case basis and there are “no people who have committed crimes“, she assured among 297 released. All of them have exhausted legal procedures and did not obtain asylum, or any other legal status, allowing them to stay in Belgium, in reality from juridical point of view being irregular migrants.

The experts criticising the measure say that it is impossible to estalbish the past of the migrants in absence of population record in the majority countries of origin. In Africa more that 500 million people have no birth ceritificate, neither ID card, according to the World Bank. There is no opportuity to establish the past of people coming from failed states and war zones, making the decision of the Beglium government highly contraversial. None of the released has proven their rights for asylum in the European Union.

However the Minister preferred to switch the debate from security issues to pandemic dimension also emphasized that the various asylum centers in Belgium are taking measures against the further spread of the corona virus, in line with the rules that apply to all of the society.

The risk of contamination among asylum seekers is no higher than that of the rest of the population. I am a little annoyed by the people who assume that they are all spreaders of the virus. Stigmatization does not help anyone, especially in these exceptional times” De Block concluded.

The health risks are too great, we have to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said MP Wouter De Vriendt. “Homeless people, asylum seekers, sans-papiers or others must be temporarily housed in vacant holiday parks, sports halls or Defence infrastructure as soon as possible, in the interests of everyone,” he added.

Migrant shot dead at Greek border

Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, reacting upon the tense situation at external EU border from Turksih side.

Greek border police have shot dead a migrant attempting to reach Europe as clashes grow following Turkey’s announcement that the border was “open.”

The Greek border is being besieged by thousands of migrants being convinced they can reach EU welfare havens following Ankara’s decision to stand down.

Following clashes that saw migrants attacking police with rocks and other objects, one victim was shot through the mouth and died at the scene.

“This is the first reported death among immigrants trying to cross the border from Turkey to Greece,” tweeted journalist Jenan Moussa. “A Syrian man is shot dead by Greek border guards. Here is the video.”

Migrants continue to arrive to Italy

An Italian merchant vessel, the Asso 25 that transported 62 illegal migrants to Pozzallo in Sicily. (Pictured above).

Alarm Phone NGO  wrote on social media that they the Maltese authorities did not provide any assistance when they were informed on the goings on in the search and rescue area.

According to ANSA News agency, Minister for Internal Affairs Matteo Salvini and the Pozzallo Port Authority have been informed of the transportation of migrants to Italy.

As many as eleven young people claimed they are minors. However the information given by illegal migrants is provided in the form of affidavit, their own statement about their identities. At present, according to the World Bank, there are more than 500 million people on African continent, who have no birth certificate, no passport. The status of ‘minor‘ they claim allows to profit from it, however there are no juridical mechanisms to verify the reality. Medical check of a ‘minor’, who committed a homicide in Sweden, was undertaken on prosecutors order, and revealed the “Ethiopian boy” was at least 21 instead of 15 he claimed.

Nigerian drug gang arrested in Sicily asylum

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a radio interview on RTL that the government will close the Cara asylum seeker centre in Mineo, Sicily, by the end of this year. “The bigger the centres are, the easier it is for criminals to infiltrate,” Salvini said.

A gang of Nigerian drug dealers based at the Cara di Mineo (Catania) and practicing Mafia methods were dismantled thanks to law enforcement and the judiciary. “For my part, I repeat the commitment to empty it by the end of this year“, he added.

At Cara di Mineo asylum centre police arrested 19 false asylum seekers who belonged to the Nigerian drug mafia.

 

 

 

 

EU Council adopts measures for migration control

European Council addressed the implementation of its approach to migration, which combines more effective control of the EU’s external borders, increased external action and the internal aspects.

European Council notes that the number of detected illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing. This is the result of the external migration policy of the Union and its Member States, based, in particular, on control of the external borders, the fight against smugglers and cooperation with countries of origin and transit, which has been intensified in recent months. This policy should therefore be continued, further developed and fully implemented.

Vigilance on all existing and emerging routes should be maintained, in particular in view of recent increases on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Routes.

As regards the internal policies, the European Council invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG).

It welcomes the agreement reached at the level of the Council on 6 December 2018 with regard to enhancing the EBCG’s mandate in the area of return and cooperation with third countries. It also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions and taking into account the varying degree of progress on each of these files.

 

Trump suggests illegal migrants return without trial

President Donald Trump said  that migrants who enter the United States illegally should be sent back immediately to where they came from without any judicial process, qualified as invaders who are trying to “break into” the country.

President also insisted that the migration system should be fair, based on merit and respect of law, and aiming to welcome people who will ‘Make America Great Again!”

The proposal got strong criticism of the Democrats favoring open door policy for migrants crossing Mexican border, insisting the right to asylum. However the defenders of President Trump view point out at abuse of asylum legislation, used as a cover for economic migrants to enter the country, claiming they are asylum-seekers.

Mexico is the leading  country of origin for most unauthorized immigrants to the USA, among 11  million illegal migrants.

In 2016, the Border Patrol apprehended 117,200 immigrants from Central America, almost one-third of all apprehensions border-wide–and 5,000 more than during the so-called surge of 2014. The agency also apprehended 5,000 Haitians.

“God didn’t create borders. We shouldn’t have a border,” – former Mexican President Vicente Fox said, during an interview on Fox News, discussing details of the White House’s latest  immigration proposal, which includes amnesty for 1.8 million illegal immigrants in exchange for Mexican border wall funding, an end to the visa lottery, and major revisions to chain migration.

Meanwhile Mexico’s economy, society and political system are built around the assumption that migration to the USA and amnesties for undocumented migrants will continue to ensure  $20 billion they send home every year.

Experts defending  President Trump position underline that asylum-seekers should not come to border crossing, but come to one of 10 U.S. Consulates in Mexico to introduce their request.

Map US Consulate Mexico

 

 

MEPs for reform of ‘Dublin’

The report on the reform of the Dublin system will be voted duing upcoming European Parliament plenary in Strasboug,

Since 2015 the EU has taken several measures to manage the migration crisis as well as to improve the asylum system. According to the latest Eurobarometer poll, 73% of Europeans still want the EU to do more to manage the situation. However, 58% of respondents think the EU’s actions regarding migration are inadequate, eight percentage points less than last year. Read on to discover what measures the European Parliament is working on.

Last December the civil liberties committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, responsible for ensuring a sustainable and fair distribution of asylum applicants. The agency would help EU countries during crisis situations and monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation. Currently Parliament representatives are negotiating on the plans with the Council and the European Commission.

In March a draft report on the reform of the Dublin system was presented to the civil liberties committee. The aim is to address the weaknesses of the current asylum system and to determine which EU country is responsible for processing an asylum application. After all the amendments have been submitted, the committee will vote on the report and it will then be up to all MEPs to vote on it during a plenary session.

The committee also supported in April a report aiming to set EU-wide standards for the reception conditions of asylum seekers and to improve their integration prospects and self-sufficiency. MEPs will now vote on it during a plenary session before starting negotiations with the Council and the Commission.

 

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted among 27,901 people from all EU countrieson 18-27 March and was set up to be representative of the population as a whole.

 

Hungary for strict asylum rules

 

migrants-waitingSoon the Hungarian government will submit proposals to the EU to protect Europe’s borders by detaining asylum seekers for the entire period of their application procedure, according to the government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács.

Kovács claimed Donald Trump’s election in the US was contributing to “a change of mood in Europe” that vindicated the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s tough stance of illiagal migration to Europe, he added that the Malta EU Informal Summit became a milesotne in the EU’s new vision of migration problem in the Mediterranean.

At a briefing in London, he said anyone seeking asylum through Hungary would be kept in shelters for the whole period of their application, though they would be free to return to their own country at any point.

“No migrants – not even those who have already issued their request for asylum – will be able move freely until there is a primary legal decision whether they are entitled for political asylum, refugee status or anything else, so they are not entitled to move freely in the country”, – concluded Zoltán Kovács.

EU Court refuses terrorist related asylum-seeker

terroristsToday the Court of Justice of the European Union – the highest justice instance – decided to reject the appeal of suspect in link to terrorist asylum claim.

The case of Moroccan national Mostafa Lounani, jailed for six years in Belgium for assisting in forging documents as part of a network sending volunteer jihadis to Iraq.

Lounani applied for refugee status because he feared persecution if he were returned to Morocco. The European Court of Justice ruled that even if someone is not involved in jihad personally or does not support terrorists directly,  asylum can be denied for indirect forms of assistance to fighters helping to recruit, organize or supply foreign fighters with equipment.

“…The Court notes, first, that it is clear from the file that Mr Lounani did not personally commit terrorist acts, or instigate such acts, or participate in their commission.

Nonetheless, the concept of ‘acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’ is not confined to terrorist acts. The Court notes in particular that, in Resolution 2178 (2014), the United Nations Security Council expressed its ‘grave concern over the acute and growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters’ and its concern with regard to the international networks established by terrorist entities enabling them to move between States fighters of all nationalities and the resources to support them.

Consequently, application of the ground for exclusion of refugee status laid down in the directive cannot be confined to the actual perpetrators of terrorist acts, but can also extend to the persons who engage in activities of recruitment, organisation, transportation or equipment of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of, inter alia, the perpetration, planning or preparation of terrorist acts. The Court states that the final assessment of an application for international protection is the task of the competent national authorities, subject to review by the national courts.

However, the Court notes, among the factors to be taken into consideration, as stated by the Belgian Conseil d’État itself, that Mr Lounani was a member of the leadership of a terrorist group operating internationally which was registered, on 10 October 2002, on the United Nations list identifying certain individuals and entities that are subject to sanctions and which has continued to be named on that list, as updated since that date. His logistical support to the activities of that group has an international dimension in so far as he was involved in the forgery of passports and assisted volunteers who wanted to travel to Iraq. In the opinion of the Court, such acts can justify exclusion from refugee status.

Further, the fact that Mr Lounani was convicted of participation in the activities of a terrorist group and that conviction has become final is, in the context of the individual assessment that must be undertaken by the competent authority, of particular importance”.  Court of Justice of the European Union

 

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