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.
18/07: OVER THE PAST TWO WEEKS…
The European Commission published the 2017 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe review and put forward new rules to clamp down on the illegal import and trafficking of cultural goods from outside the EU, often linked to terrorist financing and other criminal activity. It also stepped up financial aid to Tunisia and Iraq. Through Eurostat, it presented the latest estimates on EU population, whose increase in mainly driven by migration.
The Council adopted conclusions on addressing the risks of famine and issued recommendations and opinions on the Member states’ economic, employment and fiscal policies. The European Asylum Support Office issued its 2016 Report.
The Council of Europe and IOM will soon publish a joint study on the benefits of involving migrants in disaster risk reduction initiatives.
Among civil society, ECRE reports on national development in France (proposal to reform for reception and rapid integration) and the UK (inclusion of vulnerable groups and mixed families in Syrian resettlement programmes) as well as at G20 level (launch of Africa partnership.
(17/07) Employment and social developments in Europe: 2017 review shows positive trends but highlights high burden on the young. Today, the Commission published the 2017 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review. This year’s edition confirms positive labour market and social trends and continued economic growth. With over 234 million people having a job, employment has never been as high as today in the EU and unemployment is at its lowest level since December 2008. Since 2013, 10 million jobs have been created in the EU. But looking beyond the overall social and economic progress, evidence shows that there is a particularly heavy burden on younger generations: they tend to have more difficulties in finding a job and are more often in non-standard and precarious forms of employment including temporary contracts, which may lower their social protection coverage. They are also likely to receive lower pensions, relative to wages. This is why the 2017 ESDE review focuses on intergenerational fairness: we need to make sure that all generations benefit from the current positive economic trends. Q&A session here.
(13/07) Security Union: Cracking down on the illegal import of cultural goods used to finance terrorism. The European Commission has today put forward new rules to clamp down on the illegal import and trafficking of cultural goods from outside the EU, often linked to terrorist financing and other criminal activity. Today’s proposal marks one of the final steps set out in the Commission’s action plan to strengthen the fight against terrorism financing. It will stop this traffic in its tracks by banning the import into the EU of cultural goods exported illegally from their home countries. It comes just days after the Hamburg G20 called on countries to tackle terrorist finance, including the looting and smuggling of antiquities. Full press release here.
(13/07) EU announces additional €30 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq. The European Commission is scaling up its response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq with an additional €30 million. The money will enable the EU to continue its support for emergency relief in newly retaken areas, including for families who have recently lost their homes. It will also go towards emergency medical services providers attending to injured civilians on the frontlines. Speaking in Washington today during a High-Level Meeting on the Internally Displaced Persons Crisis in Mosul (Iraq), Commissioner Stylianides said: “The end of the Mosul military campaign marks the beginning of a new phase of international support to Iraq – one that requires our rock solid commitment to preserving humanity. Together we will ensure that all civilians are protected in Telafar, West Anbar and Hawidja, as well as in their locations of displacement.” This brings the total EU humanitarian assistance given to Iraq since 2015 to €340 million.
(13/07) Legal migration: Commission refers Belgium to the Court of Justice for failing to provide common rules for non-EU workers. The European Commission decided today to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully implement the Single Permit Directive (Directive 2011/98/EU). Designed to facilitate legal migration, the Directive introduces simplified procedures and a common set of rights for non-EU workers. Belgium, having failed to meet the initial transposition deadline of 25 December 2013, has still not fully implemented the Directive. As a result, the Commission decided to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU today. Full press release here.
(13/07) Eurofund – Converging economies, diverging societies? Upward convergence in the EU – Foundation Forum 2017. For decades there was little doubt about the European Union’s success in the balanced acceleration of standards of living among the Member States. Since 2008, this upward convergence has stalled. The Foundation Forum 2017 will bring together up to 200 experts, policymakers, employer and worker representatives, national governments, thinkers and practitioners in Dublin Castle to hammer out the issues around upward convergence as a common goal of social convergence in living and working conditions in the European Union. The Foundation Forum 2017 will take place on 14 -15 November 2017 at Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland. Full press release here.
(10/07) Commission approves disbursement of €100 million in assistance to Tunisia. The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has today approved the disbursement of a €100 million loan to Tunisia. This represents the third and last tranche of the €300 million Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA-I) programme to Tunisia, adopted in May 2014. The MFA-I programme is part of the EU’s comprehensive efforts to help Tunisia respond to the severe economic difficulties it is facing and the persistent political instability in the region. The operation has supported Tunisia’s process of economic recovery both by providing concessional funding, and by encouraging the implementation of a number of important policy measures agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and Tunisia.
(7/07) EU boosts aid to drought affected countries in the Horn of Africa. Additional humanitarian assistance of €60 million will help scale up the response in the three countries worst affected by drought in the Horn of Africa. The European Commission has announced additional humanitarian assistance of €60 million to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, who have been facing critical levels of food insecurity due to severe drought. This additional assistance brings EU humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region (including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti) to nearly €260 million since the beginning of the year. “The situation in the Horn of Africa has drastically deteriorated in 2017 and it keeps getting worse. Millions of people are struggling to meet their and their families’ food needs. The risk of famine is real. The European Union has been following the situation closely since the very beginning and progressively increasing aid to the affected populations. This new package will help our humanitarian partners scale up the response further and keep bringing lifesaving assistance to people in need,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
(6/07) New Monitor shows how culture and creativity help cities to thrive. Today, the European Commission released the first ever edition of the ‘Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor’. This new tool provides comparable data on how European cities perform across nine dimensions – covering culture and creativity – and underlines how their performance contributes to cities’ social development and economic growth and job creation. Developed by the European Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor will help policy makers as well as the cultural and creative sectors identify local strengths and areas for improvement, and learn from comparable cities. It also sheds light on the strong relationship between cultural vibrancy and various dimensions of a city’s life, starting with its social diversity and its economic activity.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL/COUNCIL OF THE EU
(17/07) Council adopts conclusions on addressing the risks of famine. The Council adopted conclusions on addressing the risks of famine. The conclusions note that humanitarian needs have been unprecedented in 2017. They include numerous chronic food security crises, with four countries facing an alarming risk of famine: Yemen, north-east Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, where overall about 20 million people at risk of starvation. The conclusions recall that the EU and its member states collectively have provided more than EUR 1.2 billion this year alone for humanitarian assistance in the four countries at risk of famine and call on all traditional and emerging donors for further efforts to be made. The Council notes however that funding is only part of the solution. These crises are man-made, with their roots lying in conflict, and they require political solutions going beyond humanitarian assistance.
(17/07) Iraq: Council agrees on a future CSDP mission to support security sector reform. The Council adopted a crisis management concept for a new civilian CSDP mission in Iraq. The mission will focus on assisting the Iraqi authorities in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi security strategy. EU experts will provide advice and assistance in priority work areas responding to the needs of the relevant authorities. The national security strategy aims at building state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts under the rule of law, and outlines a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption, political instability and ethnic and sectarian polarisation. In response to a request from the Iraqi authorities for support in the civilian security sector reform area, and in line with the Council conclusions on Iraq of 19 June, the EU agreed to prepare a civilian CSDP mission in Baghdad. The adoption of a crisis management concept is the first step to launch a new CSDP mission, after which preparations to deploy begin.
(11/07) Economic, employment and fiscal policies: 2017 country-specific recommendations. On 11 July 2017, the Council issued its 2017 recommendations and opinions on the member states’ economic, employment and fiscal policies. This was the final stage of the 2017 ‘European Semester’, an annual policy monitoring process. The recommendations had been endorsed the European Council in June. In March 2017, the European Council approved the following priorities: boosting investment; pursuing structural reforms; responsible fiscal policies. The European Semester involves simultaneous monitoring of the member states’ economic, employment and fiscal policies during a six-month period every year. Full press release here.
(13/07) FRA – Seminar looks at safe legal entry channels for migrants. The Agency presented options for safe legal entry channels for people in need of protection at a European Migration Network seminar that took place from 3 to 5 July in Bratislava. The presentation built mainly on the FRA focus paper on the topic. The seminar looked at the needs of forced migrants in the 21st century. It was organised by the Slovakian branch of the International Organisation for Migration who functions as the network’s national contact point there. Full press release here.
(13/07) Committee of the Regions – Millions of Europeans would benefit from better coordination of social security systems. Approximately 14 million EU residents – including mobile and cross-border workers, as well as unemployed and economically inactive citizens – are not living in their home country. In order to grant them the social and health benefits to which they are entitled, the European Committee of the Regions is backing proposals to improve coordination between national social security systems. The opinion drafted by Ulrike Hiller (DE/PES), Member of Bremen Senate, was adopted at the plenary session today.
(12/07) Committee of the Regions – Cities and regions can find ‘right answers to the big development issues’. Visions of a sustainable future set out by the United Nations and the European Union will require a dynamic and sustained collective process that cannot by driven solely by “centrally managed, top-down policies and programmes”, the European Committee of the Regions declared on 12 July in a set of recommendations that also argue that the EU has yet to realise in full the “local and regional dimension” of sustainable development.
(11/07) FRA – Fundamental rights concerns over new EU travel system. Proposals to create a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) should ease travel to the EU and simplify border checks. However, in its latest Opinion the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) points to various fundamental rights concerns in the system. These include the collection of sensitive personal data, who can access the data and how long the data are kept. Full press release here.
(11/07) European Economic and Social Committee – 6th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum pushes for media freedom, EU enlargement, adequate migration policy and empowering women. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held the 6th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum in Sarajevo on 10-11 July. Participants adopted a Final Declaration calling for increased media freedom, opening the doors of the Western Balkans to EU enlargement, the implementation of migration policies and increased employment opportunities, and working on women’s rights. Full press release here.
(11/07) EU Member States and Frontex show support for Italy at meeting to discuss Operation Triton. Today, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri, at the request of Italian authorities, held a meeting with representatives of Italy and EU Member States participating in agency’s operation Triton in the Central Mediterranean. The Executive Director of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, called on the Member States to stand by their pledges to reinforce operation Triton. All participants recognised that Italy is facing extraordinary pressure and needs additional support from the EU and Frontex. The meeting focused on the topics raised during the informal JHA Council meeting in Tallinn last week, including support in returns of irregular migrants from Italy and the Code of Conduct for NGOs developed by the Italian authorities, in consultation with the European Commission. Furthermore, Italy has indicated that in case of massive influx of migrants, it would like to be able to disembark migrants in the ports of other Member States.
(10/07) Eurostat – First population estimates – EU population up to almost 512 million at 1 January 2017 – Increase driven by migration. On 1 January 2017, the population of the European Union (EU)was estimated at 511.8 million, compared with 510.3 million on 1 January 2016. During the year 2016, as many births as deaths were recorded in the EU (5.1 million), meaning that the natural change of the EU population was neutral. The population change (positive, with 1.5 million more inhabitants) was therefore due to net migration. Full report here.
(7/07) Committee of the Regions – European Committee of the Regions to elect new President. On 12 July after leading the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) for two-and-a-half years, Markku Markkula (FI/EPP) is expected to handover the Presidency to Karl-Heinz Lambertz (BE/PES). CoR m embers will also gather in Brussels to debate major EU policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 and the recent EU’s energy “Winter Package”. EU Commissioner Moedas will lead discussions on the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 research programme and Transport Commissioner Bulc will join CoR members to discuss the future of low-emission mobility and the Connecting Europe Facility. Global action for sustainability will also be high on the agenda with ideas on how cities and regions can contribute to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The 2018 European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award ceremony will take place on 12 July celebrating this year’s three new winners.
(7/07) EASO – Highlights: Launch of EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the EU 2016. On 5 July 2017, EASO organised the Launch of the EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the EU+ 2016, which was held in Brussels. The 2016 EASO Annual Report on the Situation of the Asylum in the EU+ aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation of asylum in the EU+ (EU Member States plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) by examining requests for international protection to the EU, analysing application and decision data, asylum trends, including key challenges and responses during the year, major institutional and legal developments and providing an overview of the practical functioning of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Full press release here.
(7/07) EIB – EIB mobilises substantial resources for private sector and higher education in Morocco: EUR 105m in new financing operations. During his official visit to Morocco, EIB Vice-President Román Escolano, responsible for the Bank’s activities in the Maghreb, signed two large-scale financing operations totalling EUR 150m to support the private and higher education sectors in Morocco. The first loan for EUR 35m was signed on Thursday 6 July 2017 with the Diana Holding company and the second for EUR 70m on Friday 7 July 2017 with the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes. These two new operations bring the total amount of projects financed by the Bank in Morocco between 2007 and 2017 to EUR 3.8bn. This major commitment by the EIB is geared towards supporting key sectors of the Moroccan economy, such as transport, the energy transition, education and training of young people, water and sanitation and the promotion of SMEs and micro-enterprises.
(6/07) EIB – Africa Day (#DigitalAfrica) – Empowering Millions: Africa’s Rising Digital Economy. Supporting #DigitalAfrica brings rewards for European and African business alike, says major conference ahead of G20 designed to spur investment and create jobs in Africa. Leading figures from banking and business have joined government and public institutions from Europe and Africa, to mobilize renewed support and investments for Africa’s digital economy. The gathering, in Berlin today, is being hosted by the European Investment Bank and Afrika-Verein, the German business association. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Co-operation is patron of this high-ranking event.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
(17/07) Council of Europe calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve protection of child victims of trafficking. In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) welcomes the legislative changes that have been made since the publication of its first report on Bosnia and Herzegovina in May 2013. The introduction of the criminal offence of human trafficking in the criminal codes of the Republika Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Brčko District ensures that human trafficking is criminalised consistently throughout the country. GRETA also commends the introduction of legal provisions concerning the non-punishment of victims of trafficking for offences committed as a result of being trafficked, as well as the establishment of the right of victims to be granted a recovery and reflection period pursuant to the new Law on Foreigners. Full press release here.
(17/07) Migrants can contribute to preventing, preparing for and responding to disasters in Europe, says new EUR-OPA/IOM study. The Council of Europe’s EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement and the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are to publish a joint study on the benefits of involving migrants in disaster risk reduction initiatives. The study, entitled Migrants in Disaster Risk Reduction: Practices for Inclusion, is being launched at 13h30 on 19 July in room XVIII of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It aims to highlight ways to better integrate migrants into the decision-making, policy-setting and implementation processes of disaster risk reduction initiatives. Full press release here.
(7/07) Hungary: Visit to transit zones to evaluate sexual abuse risks faced by migrant children. Council of Europe children’s rights experts concluded today a three-day visit to Hungary to evaluate risks of sexual abuse and exploitation faced by migrant children placed in transit zones. Their report is expected in October. Hungarian authorities invited Lanzarote Committee Chair Claude Janizzi and representatives of the committee to visit Hungary, following a letter that Janizzi had sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in March, in which he expressed concerns that a new Hungarian law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – could increase the risks of sexual abuse of migrant children. Full press release here.
(14/07) ECRE – UK to include vulnerable groups and mixed families in Syrian resettlement programme. The UK is including vulnerable groups like Iraqi, Palestinian and Kurdish minorities as well as families of mixed nationality affected by the conflict in their Syrian Resettlement programme under which 20,000 vulnerable people are to be resettled by 2020. According to Home secretary Amber Rudd, the decision to include vulnerable groups and families of mixed nationality under the Syrian Resettlement programme is based on advice from UNHCR. “It is vitally important that we focus our support on the most vulnerable refugees in the region who have fled the atrocities in Syria, whatever their nationality” The Home Secretary stated the Guardian and further ensured that the doors of the UK: “remain open to the people who most need our help.” Full press release here.
(14/07) ECRE – Proposed Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue putting lives at risk. A Code of Conduct for NGOs active in search and rescue (SAR) operations that has been drafted by the Italian government was leaked this week by Statewatch. Human rights organisations are raising strong concern that initiative will endanger thousands of life’s on the Mediterranean. The Code of Conduct was proposed in the European Commission Action Plan on the Central Mediterranean Route, in the beginning of the month and received support by EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers last week. According to the Commission proposal the Italian government is responsible for drafting a code of conduct for NGOs undertaking SAR missions in the Central Mediterranean. The first draft of the Italian proposal includes a ban on the entry of NGOs into Libyan waters, an obligation not to use telecommunications or send light signals to reveal their location to vessels that are at risk of sinking, and the prohibition to make trans-shipments – the transfer of people rescued to bigger boats that will bring them to safe harbours. Full press release here.
(14/07) ECRE – France: Proposals to reform for reception and rapid integration. The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, presented a bill (proposition de loi) on 6 July 2017 to strengthen reception and integration in France. Among other measures, the proposal foresees amendments to reception and access to the labour market, faster asylum procedures and integration. On July 12, Macron presented his new migration plan to the Council of Ministers. In regard to reception and access to the labour market Hildago’s proposal enshrines a right to dignified reception for all persons in dire need of medical, psychological or social assistance arriving on the French territory, independently of legal status. This comes against the backdrop of persisting gaps in the reception system, resulting in thousands of persons sleeping rough on the streets of Paris and facing severe delays in accessing the asylum procedure. A mechanism for the distribution of asylum seekers across the national territory is also proposed, which will be defined on the basis of demographic and economic criteria. Full press release here.
(14/07) ECRE – G20: Launch of Africa Partnership and supporting protection in “regions of origin”. Last week’s G20 meeting concluded with two initiatives towards migration and displacement. The first is the launch of the G20 Africa Partnership, the second, a commitment to step up “Coordination and Cooperation on Displacement and Migration.” Among the objectives of the G20 Africa Partnership is to address root causes of migration by improving inclusive economic growth and employment, developing quality infrastructure, especially in the energy sector and strengthening the framework for private finance in the form of investment compacts. Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia have already presented their commitments for entering “Investment Compacts.” Full press release here.
(12/07) POLITICO.eu – Angela Merkel’s neighborly plan for Africa. Under pressure to stem the numbers of migrants making their way to Europe, Merkel is looking to make fostering economic ties between the world’s richest countries and its poorest continent one of her legacy issues — and Africa has received the message. “We really pay homage to Ms. Merkel’s will,” Alpha Condé, the president of Guinea and the current chairperson of the African Union, said in an interview on the sidelines of this year’s G20 summit. “It’s really an important turning point for cooperation with Africa.” Merkel’s plan? Pushing private investment in Africa through individual one-on-one contracts between rich nations and African countries, with the aim of boosting a sluggish economy. Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth was 3 percent in 2015 falling to 1.3 percent in 2016, according to the World Bank — the region’s worst economic performance in two decades. Full article here.
(10/07) Social Platform – An opportunity to influence the EU to ensure safe and legal ways to Europe. On 23 June Social Platform co-organised a hearing with the European Commission for civil society organisations to provide input to the evaluation of EU legislation on legal migration of non-EU citizens to the EU. Civil society organisation and individuals have an opportunity to respond to a public consultation, open until 18 September. This is an important opportunity to influence an evaluation that aims to understand the barriers and gaps to legal and safe options to come to Europe, and to propose ways for Member States to improve effective implementation. Thus, it will help tackling exploitation of migrants who are forced to resort to irregular and unsafe routes to Europe. It is also a unique opportunity to have a say about why EU legislation is important and has an added value, especially in current political climate when Member States are reluctant to promote further EU integration. The added value can be illustrated with the United Kingdom, which has lower standards than other EU Member States when it comes to opportunities for legal migration, because it opted-out of EU legal migration legislation. Full article here.
(7/07) ECRE – EU plans on Central Mediterranean Route: old wine in new bottles. The informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Minister discussed the situation on the Central Mediterranean Sea Route yesterday, following a call from Italy for more solidarity from other Member States in dealing with sea arrivals. In a letter sent to Commissioner Avramopoulos and the Estonian Presidency, the Italian Minister of the Interior stated that high arrivals result in an “unsustainable” situation, which might force the country to deny permission to dock non-Italian search and rescue vessels in its ports. Following discussions with France, Germany, Italy and the Commissioner on July 2, an Action Plan was proposed by the Commission on July 4. In a press statement yesterday, EU Ministers of the Interior agreed to prioritize a number of actions aiming at reducing migratory pressure, including an increased engagement with Libya and other key countries, following up on steps undertaken to prevent movements from Niger and Mali towards Libya. They further foresee the introduction of a code of conduct for NGOs carrying out search and rescue missions in the Central Mediterranean and fostering returns by accelerating the work on EU readmission agreements with third countries and putting the Commission’s recommendations on returns into practice. Finally, the conclusions affirm a commitment to the reform of the Common European Asylum System as well as Italy’s efforts to implement a migration policy that “reduces pull factors” and increases efficiency to identify and return migrants. Full press release here.
(7/07) ECRE – Why inclusion rather than integration? – Interview with ECRE Policy Officer on Refugee Inclusion Tamim Nashed. Full interview here.
(7/07) ECRE – European Parliament expands and strengthens EU highly skilled work scheme for refugees and asylum seekers. The European Parliament has adopted its report on the Commission proposal reforming the Blue Card Directive, which regulates the conditions of entry and residence of highly skilled migrants in the EU expanding the scope to include not only refugees and subsidiary protection holders but also asylum seekers who have been granted access to the labour market pending a decision on their claim. The Commission proposed the expansion of the Blue Card scheme to beneficiaries of international protection providing refugees and subsidiary protection holders with opportunities for faster mobility between EU Member States. The Parliament further expands the scope of the Directive to include asylum seekers who have been granted access to the labour market pending a decision on their claim. The time limits for applicants’ access to employment are not fully harmonised across the EU and may vary considerably, from immediate access in Sweden and Greece, to three months in Germany and Austria, to nine months in France and Hungary. Full press release here.
Council of the EU General Secretariat – Think Tank Review (June 2017)
Friends of Europe – Africa Summit – Building resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth