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.
23/05: OVER THE PAST TWO WEEKS…
The European Commission published its report on the application of the Charter of fundamental rights in the EU in 2016 and its 12th report on relocation and resettlement. It also closed an infringement case against Austria on free movement of students and followed up on Commission on the infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum law (ECRE reported on the same topic too). Eurostat released the latest data on asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors.
Key publications include the Annual Report on the Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights by Frontex, a publication by ECDPM on irregular migration and the refugee situation on development assistance spending and a briefing document on development financing by EPRS.
(4/05) EU proposes enhanced partnership with Africa on peace and security, and job creation for youth. The European Commission and the High Representative/ Vice-President have set out the EU’s political priorities and concrete proposals for a stronger strategic partnership with Africa. The European Commission and the High Representative / Vice-President presented a revitalised framework for joint action, to build a stronger strategic partnership between Europe and Africa for more prosperity and stability in the two continents. The Communication presents innovative proposals in a number of key areas – such as peace and security, migration, job creation or energy – based on priorities defined by African countries and stepping up the existing fruitful cooperation between the two continents. This comes ahead of the Africa-EU Summit in November this year, which will put a specific focus on youth. Full press release here. Q&A here.
(4/05) The European Commission presents a strategy to mainstream digitalisation into EU development policy. The European Commission presented “Digital4Development”, a strategy to mainstream digital technologies into European Union development policy, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For the last two decades the EU has been active in the promotion of digital technologies and services in partner countries, but has lacked an appropriate framework for mainstreaming and ensuring an effective delivery. The exponential spread and scale-up of digital technologies and services has profound global implications, creating opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth, but at the same time bring new threats and challenges. Digitalisation has an important role to play in a wide range of areas (e.g. gender, good governance, transparency and accountability, the fight against corruption, job creation and private sector development, access to micro-finance, education and health. Full press release here.
(2/05) Visa Reciprocity: Commission responds to Parliament. The European Commission responded to the European Parliament resolution calling on the Commission to adopt a delegated act to suspend the visa waiver for Canadian and American nationals. The Commission considers that, in view of the significant progress achieved during the last year and the positive momentum of ongoing work, the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens. The Commission’s diplomatic approach meanwhile has already started to bring tangible results: Canada lifted the visa requirements for some categories of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens on 1 May 2017 and is set to achieve full reciprocity as of 1 December 2017 and contacts have been re-launched with the new U.S. administration to push for full visa reciprocity for the five EU Member States concerned. Full press release here. Q&A here.
(2/05) Back to Schengen: Commission recommends phasing out of temporary border controls over next six months. The Commission has recommended that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway phase out the temporary controls currently in place at some of their internal Schengen borders over the next six months. Whilst the overall situation continues to stabilise, there are still a significant number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Greece. That is why, as a precautionary measure and whilst alternatives are put in place, the Commission is recommending that the Council prolong controls for the last time, meaning they will have to be lifted in six months’ time. During this time, as in the previous periods, controls should only be carried out in a targeted and limited manner and only as a means of last resort. At the same time, the Commission is calling on Member States to increasingly make use of alternative measures that can provide the same level of security, such as proportionate police checks in border areas and along main transport routes. To that effect, the Commission has today also presented a Recommendation on proportionate police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area. Full press release here. Q&A here.
(28/04) EU approves €59 million to support peace, stability and job creation in the Horn of Africa. The EU announced today 4 new actions worth €59 million to improve stability and address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement in the Horn of Africa region. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “This new package illustrates how the EU Trust Fund provides sustainable solutions to address instability and lack of economic opportunities, as they are two main root causes of forced displacement in the Horn of Africa. By promoting peace, stability and job creation, these new actions will help create alternatives for people to improve their lives to ensure that migration can become a choice for people, and not a necessity.” Full press release here.
(26/04) Commission presents the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission delivers on its promise to adopt its proposal for the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. The Pillar is designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe. It is primarily conceived for the euro area but applicable to all EU Member States wishing to be part of it. The Pillar was prepared by the Commission, under the leadership of Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen, in close consultation with stakeholders at all levels. It reaffirms rights that are already present in the EU and international legal acquis and complements them to take account of new realities. The principles and rights enshrined in the Pillar are structured around three categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. They place the focus on how to tackle new developments in the world of work and society at large so as to deliver on the promise of the Treaties of a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress. Full press release here and here. Q&A here and here.
(18/05) Globalisation: how the European Parliament is making it work. Globalisation offers great potential to create wealth and jobs, but it also has the capacity to disrupt. The EU has always tried to make the most of it, while mitigating its negative effects by setting rules and working together with other countries. The European Commission published on 10 May a reflection paper on how the EU should deal with globalisation in the future, which was debated by MEPs in plenary on 16 May. Read on for an overview of what Parliament has already done recently.
(18/05) EP urges EU countries to speed up relocation of refugees, particularly children. EU countries must fulfil their obligations to take in asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy, giving priority to unaccompanied minors, said Parliament on Thursday. MEPs condemn that, despite having agreed to move 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy by September 2017, EU member states have relocated just 11% of their total obligations (18,770 persons as of 16 May). They find the lack of solidarity and responsibility-sharing disappointing. In a resolution backed by 398 votes to 134 with 41 abstentions, Parliament urges EU countries to honour their commitments and prioritise the relocation of children without family and of other vulnerable applicants. MEPs point out that “only one single unaccompanied minor was relocated so far”. Full press release here.
(17/05) António Guterres: “A strong and united EU is fundamental to a strong UN”. “A strong and united Europe is an absolutely fundamental pillar of a strong and effective United Nations,” said António Guterres, addressing MEPs in Strasbourg on 17 May. The Portueguese UN Secretary-General, the first European one since Austria’s Kurt Waldheim in the early 1980s, said global challenges such as the multiplication of conflicts, a human rights violations, climate change and globalisation required the EU and the UN to work together. Welcoming Guterres, Parliament President Antonio Tajani pointed out that both the UN and the EU were created after the Second World War “to ensure peace and prosperity through a multilateral cooperation”. “Together, we have to find political solutions to the conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen and to address Isis,” he said. “Together, we need to have to defend the dignity and freedom of people, give perspectives to the new generation and put into practice the agenda 2030.”
EUROPEAN COUNCIL/COUNCIL OF THE EU
(19/05) The Council adopts a new European consensus on development. On 19 May, the Council adopted a new European consensus on development. This joint statement by the three institutions (Parliament, Council and Commission) sets out a new framework for development cooperation for the EU and its member states. The consensus is important given the crucial role of the EU in the area of development cooperation. The EU remains the world’s largest development aid donor, providing more than half of assistance worldwide. The overarching goal is the eradication of poverty, by promoting good governance, human and economic development and tackling universal issues such as fighting hunger and preserving the world’s natural resources. The European consensus for development is the EU’s response to the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It sets out the main principles which will guide the approach of the EU and the member states to cooperation with developing countries over the next 15 years, as well as a strategy for reaching the sustainable development goals (SDGs). In line with the global strategy on the EU’s foreign and security policy, the consensus will also help achieve the priorities of the EU’s external policy.
(19/05) Council conclusions on annual report 2017 on EU development aid targets. The Council adopted conclusions regarding information on the EU’s official development assistance (ODA), analysing trends with regard to its commitments and delivery in 2016. The ODA is a major source of finance for least developed countries and fragile states which particularly lack the domestic capacity to raise finance from other sources. Last year, ODA reached €75 billion. This constitutes an 11% increase compared to 2015.
(15/05) Italy, Germany call for EU mission on Libya-Niger border. The German and Italian interior ministers have called for an EU mission to be installed on the border between Libya and Niger to stem migrant crossings to Europe. In a letter to the European Commission dated 11 May, of which AFP obtained a copy on Sunday (14 May), ministers Thomas de Maizière and Marco Minniti said they “are convinced that we all must do more” to “prevent that hundreds of thousands of people once again risk their lives in Libya and on the Mediterranean Sea in the hands of smugglers”. Italy had already registered nearly 42,500 migrants coming by sea by mid-April this year and 97% of them arrived from Libya, the letter said. It called for the setting up of “an EU Mission at the border between Libya and Niger as soon as possible”.
(15/05) Council adopts conclusions on indigenous peoples. The Council adopted conclusions on indigenous peoples, recalling that the EU is founded on values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The Council underlines the importance of addressing discrimination and inequalities based on indigenous origin or identity as well as the importance of actions taken to address the threats to and violence against indigenous peoples. The Council also highlights the crucial importance of further enhancing opportunities for dialogue with indigenous peoples at all levels of EU cooperation. These conclusions follow the joint staff working document “Implementing EU external policy on indigenous peoples” published by the High Representative and the European Commission in October 2016. The joint staff working document identified ways for the EU to strengthen its support to indigenous peoples through existing external policies and financing.
(11/05) Schengen area: Council recommends up to six-month prolongation of internal border controls. On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances. As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months. Before prolonging such controls, those member states concerned should exchange views with the relevant member states to ensure that internal border controls are carried out only where it is considered necessary and proportionate. They should also ensure that internal border controls are only carried out as a last resort and when other alternative measures cannot achieve the same effect. When they provide the same security results, the use of police powers across the territory should be preferred.
(19/05) FRA – Access to education failing many migrants. Asylum seekers and refugees in many parts of Europe risk being confined to a life of inequality and disadvantage due to gaps in their education and the lack of support in schools for trauma victims. These are some of the main concerns from the latest summary report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on migration-related fundamental rights in selected EU Member States which assesses the educational prospects of migrants.
(19/05) Committee of the Regions – Sofia proves that investment in culture creates growth, jobs and social inclusiveness. Local and regional politicians from EU Member States met in Sofia on Friday 19 May to discover the city’s efforts in the fields of cultural policy and social inclusion of migrants and minorities. President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula and Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova highlighted that the Bulgarian capital is among the first cities that have established an encompassing Cultural Innovations Fund to support and develop creativity and culture in the city through a partnership between public institutions and private sector.
(18/05) FRA – Fundamental rights support to Italian authorities in migration hotspots. The Agency held a fundamental rights workshop for hotspots operators in Taranto on 11 May in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Interior, the European Commission migrants support team in Italy and in partnership with the UNHCR and International Organization for Migration.
(18/05) FRA – Measuring hate crime data. The Agency gave a presentation to six OSCE missions in the South East Europe region as well as OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 11 May on measuring and improving the collection of hate crime data.
(17/05) FRA – Safe havens needed for LGBTI people fleeing persecution. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people suffer persecution in many places around the world. On this year’s International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) calls for greater efforts to provide sanctuary to LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees.
(16/05) Frontex – Arrival of migrants in April: Italy higher than year ago, numbers in Greece drop. There were more than 14 100 detections of illegal border crossings on the three main migratory routes into the EU in April, 2% higher than the number of detections from the previous month. The total number of detections in the first four months of 2017 fell 84% from the same period of last year to almost 47 000, even though Italy continued to see numbers higher than a year ago. Full press release here.
16/05) EIB – EIB backs EUR 11 billion of new financing and welcomes European Parliament support to expand Investment Plan for Europe. The Board of the European Investment Bank today approved a total of EUR 10.8 billion of new financing for 43 projects in the fields of energy, social housing, and support for business and innovation investment across Europe and beyond. “The EIB continues to deliver for Europe’s citizens, mobilising new investment to enhance economic opportunities. Financial projects approved today will support construction of new homes for thousands of families and allow high-speed internet access in towns and rural areas across Europe.” highlighted Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
(15/05) EIGE – Tackling violence requires more comparable data. Violence against women is happening in all corners of the EU but we still do not know its full extent. More reliable and comparable data are urgently needed to ensure that policy responses to violence are as effective as possible. EIGE’s new project on improving administrative data takes the Institute’s previous work on the topic one step further. It aims to improve the availability, quality and comparability of data collected by police and justice services on intimate partner violence and rape. Full press release here.
(11/05) Committee of the Regions – Cities and regions call for a more bottom-up European Semester process. During the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR) presented his outlines of a Code of Conduct to make the European Semester more effective and increase its ownership on the ground. The opinion adopted in unanimity on 11 May calls for a territorial dimension to be included in the key documents of the European Semester and for a structured and regular involvement of local and regional authorities in its planning and implementation. Full press release here.
(11/05) Eurostat – Asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors – 63 300 unaccompanied minors among asylum seekers registered in the EU in 2016 – Over half are Afghans or Syrians. In 2016, 63 300 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors, a number down by about a third compared with 2015 (with almost 96 500 unaccompanied minors registered) but still about 5 times higher than the annual average during the period 2008-2013 (around 12 000 per year). Full report here.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
(19/05) ECRE – Regional governments in Italy to provide additional capacity for detention of 1.600 people. On 9 May 2017, the Interior Minister of Italy asked the regional governments to provide a total of 1,600 additional beds in detention centers. This corresponds with political ambition of returning unsuccessful asylum-applicants as illustrated in the recent legislation on accelerated asylum procedure and returns. The Interior Minister first expressed in late December 2016 stated that measures were necessary to combat ‘irregular migration”, potential terrorist threats and the flight of migrants. Since then, a circular outlining a stricter policy on migration control was distributed to the police authorities around the country. The new centers will be provided for those who do not have the right to remain in Italy and are aimed at becoming “permanent centers for repatriation”. This has been firmly criticized by ASGI. Full press release here.
(15/05) Social Platform – Open the front door to migration, before closing the back door. “You first have to close the back door, before you can open the front door”, was the answer by Ann Mettler, Head of the European Political Strategy Centre, on how to ensure legal avenues for low- and medium-skilled workers coming to Europe, asked during our General Assembly on 27 April. The idea that one first has to stop irregular migration before opening regular channels is not only the view of Ms Mettler, it is shared by many politicians. Decision-makers agree on making agreements with Afghanistan and Turkey to keep migrants out of the EU, and return policies for those not granted the right to stay, rather than on how to foster solidarity and a welcoming society for those fleeing war, persecution and poverty. The 2016 Annual Report on Migration and Asylum shows that countries such as Sweden that welcomed most refugees and migrants are now making their legislation more restrictive. Full article here.
(12/05) ECRE – Central Med: Mounting number of drownings amid sparking debate on civilian search and rescue operations. During the last week-end 245 people are feared dead or missing in the Central Mediterranean. This puts the number of persons who have died crossing from North Africa to Italy to more than 1,300 since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the debate on the impact on the impact on civilian search and rescue (SAR) operations on migration control continues. This week the NGOs, Jugend Rettet, Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye, involved in SAR were invited to the Italian senate defence committee to offer further explanation on their activities. At the same time media reported that the Italian parliament is considering stricter regulations especially on financial transparency for SAR NGOs. Full press release here.
(12/05) ECRE – Hungary leaves negotiations with EU Commission and prepares for legal battle. After redrawing from negotiations with the EU Commission a government statement was issued on May 4 underlining that Hungary have no intention to implement proposals for bringing asylum law in compliance with EU rules and is ready to face legal disputes. Among the topics of the negotiations between the EC and the Hungarian representatives were the closed transit zones and the policy of holding unaccompanied minors over the age of 14 in the zones along with adults. Full press release here.
(10/05) POLITICO.eu – Court says non-EU parents could get residency rights. Parents of children that are European Union citizens, but who are not EU citizens themselves, could have the right to live in the bloc and receive child support from the state, the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday. Judges were ruling on a number of cases in which Dutch men married women from outside the EU and had children with them who now live mainly with their mothers. The court had to determine whether not allowing the child’s mother to be an EU citizen and claim benefits would “have the effect of depriving EU citizens [the children] of the genuine enjoyment” of the rights of citizenship. Full press release here.
(8/05) Social Platform – Young migrants and their struggle to access the labour market. Both migration and youth unemployment in the European Union remain high; in March alone, 66,908 asylum claims were made, and 3.9 million young people remained unemployed. Yet initiatives aimed at managing these two issues are usually looked at in isolation. To keep the conversation going and draw attention to the vulnerable position young migrants tend to find themselves in, Social Platform members Eurodiaconia and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) organised a conference on ’Improving labour market integration and inclusion of young migrants’ on the 3 May, bringing together representatives of European institutions, national governments, trade unions and civil society. Full press release here.
European Commission – EU emergency trust fund for Africa (Fact Sheet)
Committee of the Regions – Horizon 2020 and the Local and Regional Authorities