This page includes news on the most recent development in the field of migration and asylum at European level. On a regular basis, the ISMU Foundation gathers information on the latest legislative proposals, declarations, decisions and opinions issued by European Institutions and agencies, Council of Europe, academia and civil society. More specifically, this section focusses on social inclusion and interfaith dialogue and other migration-related issues.
22/11: OVER THE PAST TWO WEEKS…
The European institutions debated the social dimension of the EU (Social Pillar) and the newly approved 2018 budget. Several stakeholders took the discussion outside the EU by evaluating development policy and humanitarian assistance with third countries, namely with African states.
(20/11) Moving forward on the European Pillar of Social Rights: Commission seeks to promote social protection for all. The Commission has launched today the second round of discussions with trade unions and employers’ organisations at the EU level, on how to support access to social protection for all people in employment and in self-employment. This is yet another important step forward in making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality on the ground, and only days after its proclamation by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the Social Summit in Gothenburg. Full press release here.
(20/11) Vocational education and training in the European spotlight: Second European Vocational Skills Week launched. From 20 to 24 November 2017, the European Commission is organising the second European Vocational Skills Week, building on the success of last year’s initiative. The objective is to inspire people to discover, use and improve their talents and abilities through vocational education and training (VET). Encouraging people to consider VET as first choice in their career path is one of the ten key actions proposed by the Commission under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, which has been rolled out since June 2016. Full press release here.
(19/11) Leave no child behind – Joint Statement on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day. Ahead of the Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Society and Digital Economy made the following statement. Full statement available here.
(18/11) 2018 EU budget: jobs, investments, migration challenge and security. Today, 18 November the EU institutions reached an agreement on the 2018 EU budget– a reflection of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission. The EU budget helps turn political priorities into a reality. The adopted 2018 EU budget confirms that the EU is directing money to where the needs are. In 2018, and in line with the European Commission proposal from May this year the biggest part of the EU budget will go to stimulate the creation of jobs, especially for young people, and to boost growth, strategic investments and convergence. The EU will also continue supporting the efforts to effectively deal with the migration challenge, both inside and outside of the EU. Full press release here.
(14/11) Future of Europe: Towards a European Education Area by 2025. With the debate on the future of Europe in full swing, the European Commission is today setting out its vision for how we can create a European Education Area by 2025. The ideas formulated are intended as a contribution to the EU Leaders’ meeting on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, where they will discuss the future of education and culture. The Commission believes that it is in the shared interest of all Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for job creation, economic growth and social fairness as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity. Full press release here.
(13/11) Next steps against fake news: Commission sets up High-Level Expert Group and launches public consultation. The Commission launched today a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation and set up a High-Level Expert Group representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations. The work of the High-Level Expert Group as well as the results of the public consultation will contribute to the development of an EU-level strategy on how to tackle the spreading of fake news, to be presented in spring 2018. More information here.
(9/11) Autumn 2017 Economic Forecast: continued growth in a changing policy context. The euro area economy is on track to grow at its fastest pace in a decade this year, with real GDP growth forecast at 2.2%. This is substantially higher than expected in spring (1.7%). The EU economy as a whole is also set to beat expectations with robust growth of 2.3% this year (up from 1.9% in spring). According to its Autumn Forecast released today, the European Commission expects growth to continue in both the euro area and in the EU at 2.1% in 2018 and at 1.9% in 2019 (Spring Forecast: 2018: 1.8% in the euro area, 1.9% in the EU). Full press release here.
(9/11) EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: new contracts signed as more and more refugees receive support. The European Commission reported on the impressive progress in the implementation of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey, during the 8th meeting of the Steering Committee of the Facility, that took place in Brussels yesterday. Over one million refugees have now been reached with the EU’s flagship humanitarian programme, the ‘Emergency Social Safety Net’, and multiple new contracts were signed for €115 million in the areas of humanitarian aid, socio-economic support and municipal infrastructure. Of the overall €3 billion budget, €2.9 billion has been allocated. Of this, contracts have been signed for 55 projects worth over €1.78 billion, out of which €908 million have already been disbursed. Full press release here.
(16/11) New impetus for development in Africa needed. Economic, migratory and social problems, coupled with protracted crises, require new responses and better cooperation between the African Union and the EU. In order to give new impetus to cooperation and the development of African nations, MEPs recommend a new EU-Africa strategy also aimed at strengthening the resilience of African countries, in a resolution adopted on Thursday. Full press release here.
(16/11) EP ready to start talks with EU governments on overhaul of Dublin system. The European Parliament is now ready to start talks on revamping the Dublin system to ensure that asylum seekers are fairly shared among EU member states. A broad majority of MEPs endorsed the mandate, drawn up by the Civil Liberties Committee, in a vote on Thursday (390 to 175, with 44 abstentions). Parliament can now begin talks with the Council as soon as EU member states have agreed their own negotiating position. The proposed changes to the Dublin rules aim to remedy weaknesses in the current system and ensure that all EU countries accept their fair share of responsibility for hosting asylum seekers in the EU. Under the reform, the country in which an asylum seeker first arrives would no longer be automatically responsible for processing his or her asylum application. Instead, asylum seekers should be shared among all EU countries, by being swiftly and automatically relocated to another EU country. Full press release here.
(14/11) High-level conference “Towards a renewed partnership with Africa”. A conference on a new EU-Africa partnership will take place in the European Parliament on 22 November from 14.00 to 20.00 CET, ahead of the next EU-African Union summit.
African political leaders, African Union representatives and UN officials will discuss with Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani, other MEPs, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, and many other leading figures from the private sector and civic society, including Dr Denis Mukwege, Laureate of the 2014 Sakharov Prize about new responses to the challenges Africa is facing and how to deepen the partnership between the two continents. Full press release here.
(9/11) Students and Refugees Together win Citizen’s Prize 2017. Students and Refugees Together (START) together with one of its founders Avril Bellinger were awarded the European Parliament Citizen’s Prize for their work in helping young refugees becoming an active part of their new communities. Since 2008, the European Citizen’s Prize is awarded to individuals or organisations which help cross-border cooperation or mutual understanding within the EU. These year’s winners include 49 people and organisations from 26 EU countries. Full press release here.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL/COUNCIL OF THE EU
(20/11) Eurostat –Eurostat monitoring report – How has the EU progressed towards the Sustainable Development Goals? Sustainable development aims to achieve a continuous improvement in citizens’ quality of life and well-being. This involves the pursuit of economic progress, while safeguarding the natural environment and promoting social justice. For these reasons, sustainable development is a fundamental and overarching objective of the European Union. Full report here.
(17/11) FRA – Migration fundamental rights challenges remain. New and persisting fundamental rights concerns in a number of EU Member States remain a feature of the migration situation in Europe, according to the FRA’s latest monthly report. Overcrowding, immigrant detention, particularly of migrant children, and asylum processing delays are just some of the challenges highlighted. Full press release here
(17/10) FRA – High-level radicalisation expert group meets. EU Member States, the European Commission, representatives of other EU institutions and relevant EU Agencies came together for the the second meeting of the Subgroup to the High Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLCEG-R). Full press release here
(17/11) EASO – EASO discusses cooperation with Civil Society. On 17 November 2017 in Brussels, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is holding its 7th annual Consultative Forum with representatives from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), international organisations, EU institutions and national authorities, to discuss the state of play of the Common European Asylum System. This year’s meeting brings together an unprecedented diversity in stakeholders and a record number of participants, reflecting the prominence that the event has taken in bringing together the principal players in implementing the EU’s asylum system, as well as its added value for all participants. Full press release here.
(16/11) EU Committee of the Regions – No social dimension of Europe without strong regional investment. While the creation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is a positive step towards a more social Europe, social and employment policies at national, regional and local level need to be supported with sound EU cohesion funding for all EU regions, President of the European Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz said ahead of the Social Summit for Fair Growth and Jobs in Gothenburg. Full press release here
(13/11) FRA – Call to action: Bring children together for diversity. On the 10th anniversary of the landmark judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the segregation of Roma children in education, equality and human rights organizations call for a redoubling of efforts to bring children together in the spirit of Europe’s commitment to dignity, equality and human rights. Full press release here.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
(17/11) Lifeline for volunteers helping refugees and migrants. Tens of thousands of volunteers across Europe who are struggling to teach their language and culture to new refugees and migrants have been offered a lifeline. At last, free teaching materials adapted to refugees’ special needs have been developed and are being launched online by the Council of Europe at www.coe.int/lang-refugees. Available from 17 November in seven languages – Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian and Turkish – this comprehensive package of practical support and awareness-raising materials can be adopted by volunteers who have no previous teaching experience. It will enable refugees arriving in Europe to deal with basic everyday situations, like visiting a doctor, using public transport and filling out forms. Full press release here.
(16/11) GRETA report on Belgium: the authorities asked to improve the identification of child trafficking victims. The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has published today its second evaluation report on Belgium. The report assesses developments since the publication of GRETA’s first evaluation report on Belgium in September 2013 as regards the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. According to the report, progress has been made in a number of areas, such as further developing the legal and institutional framework for combating human trafficking, adopting a new national anti-trafficking action plan and providing training to a range of professionals, including those working with unaccompanied foreign children. GRETA also commends the criminal justice response to human trafficking in Belgium, which has resulted in a considerable number of convictions accompanied by confiscations of perpetrators’ assets. Further, there have been cases of legal entities sanctioned for human trafficking offences. Full press release here.
(10/11) Malta should step up efforts to enhance protection of women’s and migrants’ rights. “I welcome the government’s efforts to combat domestic violence in Malta. The transposition into domestic law of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, currently debated in parliament, is a decisive step forward. However, more needs to be done to protect the human rights of women” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of his four-day visit to Malta. Full press release here.
(19/11) ECRE – What are social inclusion and solidarity? A simple question, complex answer. Last week I participated in several interesting discussions about social inclusion and social solidarity, topics that in many ways interrelate with each other. On Tuesday I was invited by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung to facilitate an exchange with a group of young Europeans on how to improve social solidarity among Member States. I left the meeting thinking if these smart young people will be our next generation of politicians and leaders, we will for sure head towards a bright future! Full article by Annica Ryngbeck here.
(18/11) ONE – Ambitious vision lacking in EU’s 2018 budget, say NGOs. In the early hours of this morning, after 16 hours of negotiations, the EU Member States and the European Parliament struck a deal on the EU’s budget for 2018. Finance Ministers rejected the European Parliament’s proposal to increase external spending and agreed to limit funding at €9.57 billion, a decrease of €868 million, or 8%, below the final 2017 budget, with €256m left unallocated in the margin. Compared to 2017, long-term development aid was cut by 6%, however health and education funding will increase to €206 million and agriculture, food security and nutrition funding will rise to €217 million in 2018. The agreement also outlines a slight increase from 2017 to humanitarian aid, to €1.1 billion. Full press release here.
(17/11) Euractiv – Change on the horizon for social rights? Real progress to eradicate poverty and promote social justice for all is within the grasp of the EU, but it will take ambitious political commitment at November’s Social Summit to make gains in reaching a truly social Europe, explain Jana Hainsworth and Luis Alvarado Martinez. Full article here.
(17/11) ECRE – Trust Fund for Africa: focus on short-term EU policies jeopardizes long-term development goals of African partners. The report ‘An Emergency for whom? Published this week the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa – migratory routes and development aid in Africa’ finds that the program lacks checks and balances to guaranty the fund’s benefit for African countries. The focus on short-term EU interests might jeopardize long term interests for African partners. Theprogress report from the European Commission indicates further investments. Full press release here
(17/11) ECRE – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights confirms EU’s complicity of inhuman situation of migrants in Libya. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein defined EU cooperation with Libya on migrant control as inhumane. EU denied the accusations, highlighting their positive intentions and the cooperation with UN agencies. However, the agencies in question, UNHCR and IOM expressed serious concerns of the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya. Full press release here.
(17/11) ECRE – Op-ed: Are Europeans turning against asylum seekers and refugees? A common assumption amongst political commentators is that Europeans are becoming increasingly opposed to the admission of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into their countries. Moreover, it is supposed that this greater negativity is the result of hostile media coverage that has led to citizens voting for populist radical right parties. While it is indisputable that some citizens are opposed to immigration and that certain media outlets propagate similar sentiments, such an understanding runs contrary to the most common findings in the social sciences that political attitudes are remarkably stable. The so-called European ‘refugee crisis’—the phenomenon since 2015 of increasing numbers of people entering Europe across the Mediterranean Sea—provides a powerful case to test these assumptions. Full press release here.
(16/11) MPI – European Partnership Deals with North African Countries Can Bear More Fruit When Focus Goes Beyond Wealthier Governments’ Migration Management Priorities, Report Finds. Amid a dramatic spike in the arrival on European shores of asylum seekers and migrants in 2015 and 2016, European policymakers set their sights on building or reinvigorating partnerships with origin and transit countries in North Africa as a means of bringing Mediterranean crossings under control. These deals, in which European interests seek stronger migration management and the return of unauthorized migrants in exchange for financial aid or investments, have often proven controversial. Italy’s recent deal with Libyan militias and tribes to halt migrant-packed boats from setting off across the Mediterranean has been harshly criticized by human-rights and international organizations, which deplore the inhumane conditions in Libyan detention camps where migrants now find themselves marooned. The partnerships also have underperformed when focused largely on European priorities while giving scant attention to transit- and sending-country needs, as a new report jointly published by the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration and MPI’s sister institution in Brussels, MPI Europe, finds. Full press release here.
(10/11) ECRE – New policy trend: doubtful practice of deportations based on informal bilateral agreements. The joint legal analysis “Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Sudan” by the Human Rights and Migration Law Clinic (HRMLC) of the University of Turin raises human rights and national constitutional concerns over the increasingly widespread use of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as form of bilateral agreement to manage migration flows and facilitate readmission. Full press release here.
(10/11) ECRE – Weekly Editorial: More “Safe” Third Country Concept: less safe world. Either deliberately or by default the EU is moving towards a strategy of “externalisation” – and the proposed expansion in use of the safe third country concept is a central element. The concept allows for the outsourcing of protection to other countries, those deemed safe. The legislative reform proposals put forward by the Commission use the concept in a problematic way; but the European Council goes further (or lower) and some Member States are pitching alarming ideas. ECRE has set out its concerns in a new Policy Note but it’s worth unpicking the details. Full press release here.
EU – 5th African Union – European Union Summit (Event)
European Commission – “Women’s Rights in Turbulent Times” Colloquium on Fundamental Rights (Event)
MC2CM – MEDITERRANEAN CITY-TO-CITY MIGRATION (Project)
EPRS – The EU And Africa (Think Tank Review)