InfoFlash from Europe

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.

Updates to 30.11.2020

(22/10) EU mobilises international donors to support Rohingya refugees and countries in the region. Today the European Union, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees co-hosted the International Donors’ Conference in solidarity with Rohingya refugees and countries in the region. The EU mobilised a total of €96 million for Rohingya refugees in 2020 for humanitarian, development cooperation as well as conflict prevention support. Full press release here.

(21/10) Eradicating human trafficking: Persistent risks call for strategic approach. Today, the Commission is presenting its Third Report on the progress made in the fight against human trafficking. Taking stock of measures taken since 2017, the report highlights recent trends in human trafficking, the particular complexities in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and remaining challenges that the EU and Member States must address as a matter of priority. Full press release here.

(20/10) EU steps up support for Africa’s Central Sahel countries. Today, the European Union, Denmark and Germany and the United Nations co-host a virtual Ministerial Roundtable on Africa’s Central Sahel region, with the participation of donors and international organisations, as well as the countries concerned: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The event will discuss longer-term perspectives for countries in the region to overcome the spiral of violence and humanitarian crises they are currently facing. It also aims at mobilising support for the region, especially as coronavirus pandemic increases humanitarian needs. Full press release here.

(7/10) Commission launches new 10-year plan to support Roma in the EU. The European Commission has today adopted a new 10-year plan, including a proposal for a Council Recommendation, to support Roma in the EU. There are seven key areas of focus: equalityinclusionparticipationeducationemploymenthealth, and housing. For each area, the Commission has put forward new targets and recommendations for Member States on how to achieve them, both of which will serve as important tools to monitor progress and ensure that the EU makes more headway in providing the vital support that so many Roma living in the EU still need. Full press release here.

(30/09) Rule of law: First Annual Report on the Rule of Law situation across the European Union. The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systemsanti-corruption frameworksmedia pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance. Full press release here.

(26/11) MEPs warn of deteriorating fundamental rights in the EU. On Thursday, Parliament adopted its 2018-2019 report on the state of fundamental rights in the EU, identifying multiple areas of concern. MEPs strongly condemn the efforts in some member states to weaken the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary and reiterate the critical need for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. They point to attacks on media freedom, independence and pluralism, highlighting the democratic role of journalists and whistle-blowers. They also call on member states to refrain from adopting laws that restrict the freedom of assembly, and to put an end to disproportionate and violent interventions by law enforcement authorities. Full press release here.

(19/11) Migration and asylum: time to find balance between solidarity and responsibility. The EU must help member states at the external borders to manage migration flows and ensure that those seeking protection are welcomed in line with its core values. At the opening of the High-level Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe organised by the European Parliament, EP President David Sassoli stressed that “behind migration figures there are people , each one with their own story”, adding that “they need to be at the heart of any efficient European policy on migration and asylum”. Full press release here.

(11/11) MEPs update role of European Network of Public Employment Services. The Network should enhance the creation of sustainable jobs and help employment services adapt to digitalisation and changing work patterns. On Wednesday, Parliament approved the informal agreement on the enhanced cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES) across the EU with 627 votes in favour, 28 against and 31 abstentions. This vote extends the Network’s mandate until 31 December 2027, while also compelling the Commission to submit an evaluation report by the end of September 2026 to assess the Network’s achievements. Full press release here.

(10/11) Next multiannual financial framework and recovery package: Council presidency reaches political agreement with the European Parliament. The German presidency of the Council today reached a political agreement with the European Parliament’s negotiators in talks aimed at securing the Parliament’s consent to the next multiannual financial framework, the EU’s long-term budget. Full press release here.

(4/11) InvestEU: Council agrees its position on revised Commission proposal. Member states’ EU ambassadors today agreed the Council’s partial mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on a revised Commission proposal for the InvestEU programme. The aim of InvestEU is to encourage public and private investor participation in financing and investment operations by providing guarantees from the EU budget to address failures and sub-optimal investment situations. The Commission presented a revised proposal for this programme as part of the revised multiannual financial framework and recovery package in May 2020. A key element of the revised proposal was the introduction of a new fifth window for strategic European investments in addition to the previously proposed policy windows for sustainable infrastructure, research, innovation and digitisation, SMEs, and social investment and skills. Full press release here.

(30/10) Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee: the Council adopts a recommendation for more inclusive measures to boost youth employment. Today, the Council adopted by unanimity a Recommendation on ‘A Bridge to Jobs – Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee’. The main aim is to better support youth employment across the EU, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is bringing back high youth unemployment rates and increasing the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The new Youth Guarantee reaffirms the commitment of the EU member states to set up national schemes through which young people can receive an offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. At the same time, the recommendation extends the age limit for targeted young people from 25 to up to 29 years and provides for better inclusion of persons from vulnerable groups, such as NEETs, young women and people with disabilities. Full press release here.

(18/11) EASO – Vienna Migration Conference 2020: EASO and ICMPD strengthen cooperation. The Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Ms Nina Gregori, participated at the Vienna Migration Conference 2020 organised by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) which took place virtually on 18 November 2020. On the margins of the event, EASO and ICMPD virtually exchanged letters which aim at reinforcing cooperation and collaboration. Full press release here.

(13/11) EU Court of Auditors – Performance check for EU programmes: mixed results, while information quality should be further improved. The European Commission’s reporting on how well the EU spending programmes perform shows mixed results, according to a new report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). While the auditors welcome the fact that the reporting keeps improving and is becoming more balanced, they also point to a number of problems: the quality of the Commission’s performance assessments still varies across programmes, and setting robust and informative performance indicators remains a challenge. They also say that the Commission should work with Member States to further ramp up data reliability in its reporting on budget performance. Full press release here.

(12/11) European Ombudsman – Ombudsman opens inquiry to assess European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) ‘Complaints Mechanism’. European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has opened an inquiry to look into how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deals with alleged breaches of fundamental rights. In particular, the investigation will assess the effectiveness and transparency of Frontex’s Complaints Mechanism for those who believe their rights have been violated in the context of Frontex border operations, as well as the role and independence of Frontex’s ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’. Full press release here.

(12/11) FRA – Updating FRA’s guardianship for unaccompanied children research. FRA held an inception meeting on 11 November with its research network, FRANET, to discuss updating its report on Guardianship systems for children deprived of parental care in the EU. The research will provide an overview of changes to law and practice in the assignment of guardians for the protection of unaccompanied children during the last five years. Discussions focused on the questionnaire, methodology and data collection. The research, to be published in 2021, will cover Serbia and North Macedonia for the first time. Full press release here.

(30/10) EASO – EASO publishes a COI report on Iraq: Security situation. Today, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report on the security situation in Iraq. This report is the last of a series of Iraq reports  produced in 2020, covering – besides the security situation – also key socio-economic indicators and the targeting of individuals of different profiles. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Iraqi applicants and will be used to update the EASO Country Guidance on Iraq 2020. The report, Iraq: Security situation, should be read in conjunction with the other reports on Iraq published in 2020. Full press release here.

(29/10) Eurofound – Fewer than 10% of EU businesses offer comprehensive learning opportunities critical to employee performance and well-being, new survey says. The best outcomes in terms of company performance and workplace well-being are obtained in companies where training is valued highly according to the recently published European Company Survey 2019 by EU agencies Eurofound and Cedefop. The survey also reveals how businesses fare better when the responsibility for skills use and skills development is explicitly shared between the employer and their employees. According to the findings, almost all managers (96%) agree training is important for employees to do their current job and most workplaces in the EU offer at least some training, yet only a small number – 9% – offer comprehensive training and learning opportunities to most of their employees. Full press release here.

(30/11) Privacy International – Surveillance Disclosures Show Urgent Need for Reforms to EU Aid Programmes. Privacy International and other campaigners are demanding that the EU enact urgent reforms to development aid and cooperation programmes after disclosures reveal their extensive use to train and equip security forces with surveillance techniques. Full press release here.

(27/11) ECRE – Atlantic Route: Containment, Return, Deterrence – Spain’s Response to Increased Sea Arrivals. The Spanish government does not agree to transferring migrants who arrive in the Canary Islands to the Spanish mainland, despite reception offers from several regions. Instead, it seeks to cooperate with African states on returns and deterrence. Full press release here.

(24/11) ECRE – Joint Statement Last call: The Future Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. As the European Union (EU) co-legislators are stepping up their efforts to reach an agreement on the next Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the undersigned organizations wish to reiterate and update their priorities in light of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum. The present statement builds upon previous collective recommendations and concerns relating to the AMIF proposal highlighted in February 2019 and November 2019. Full statement here.

(20/11) ECRE – Editorial: An Offer You Can’t Refuse: The External Dimension. As the Member States’ reaction to the Pact – hundreds if not thousands of requests for clarification and a redrawing of battle-lines in the two old conflicts East v West and South v North – demonstrates, any agreement on the future of asylum in Europe will be a long time coming. One element bucks the trend, with rapid consensus, progress and agreements reached – unsurprisingly it is that old favourite: “the external dimension”. Full article here.

(10/11) ECRE – Turning rhetoric into reality: New monitoring mechanism at European borders should ensure fundamental rights and accountability. The shocking images of migrants and asylum-seekers abused by Croatian authorities are part of the persistent and well-documented trend of human rights violations taking place at European borders. They are also a reflection of the widespread impunity of European Union (EU) Member States’ border authorities and demonstrate the urgent need to address this in a systematic manner. Full statement here.

(5/11) ELDH – ELDH statement on the new EU ‘Pact on Migration and Asylum’. The Pact on Migration and Asylum published on 23 September 2020, provides a framework to facilitate and justify the obstruction of access to asylum procedures, unlawful returns and refoulement. Although labelled a ‘fresh start’,[1] it retains many highly contentious aspects of the old border policy including a discriminatory fast track border procedure, military and technological border fortification, and an emphasis on containment, detention, deportations and border externalisation. Full press release here.

(19/10) EUROCITIES – What role for cities in Roma inclusion? “Hope has never trickled down, it has always sprung up”, quoted European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli in her keynote address on the third day of an online exchange between cities on the rights of Roma people. The debate, which the Commissioner noted was a very timely one, came just days after she announced the new EU strategy for Roma inclusion, equality and participation.

The quote, which references social activist Naomi Klein, was in fact used to highlight one of the central aspects of the new EU strategy: the need to work with local communities through participatory measures in order to build dialogue and trust. Full press release here.

(19/10) ICMC – New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum Is Not Yet the Fresh Start Needed, NGOs Argue. Some elements of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum for the European Union (EU) constitute a positive change in tone. However, taken as a whole, the document does not significantly counter the unsatisfactory aspects of the current system, argue a group of NGOs. Full press release here.

(19/10) ICMC – Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Be an Opportunity to End the Practice of Detaining Migrants? Is there any good news in the COVID-19 pandemic? On the issue of migration detention, there just may be. Overcrowding, poor hygiene standards and little access to health care or personal protective equipment are generally trademarks of migrants’ detention facilities. The pandemic gave us a clear signal that this is unacceptable, writes Stéphane Jaquemet. Full press release here.

(19/10) EUROCITIES – Integrating Cities Conference IX: When cities and volunteers build an inclusive society. Our very first online Integrating Cities Conference takes place at a time when integration is moving up on the policy agenda of the EU. As such, the European Commission’s Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, which will be released by the end of 2020, will set the policy context in which a closer involvement of cities in designing integration policies is indispensable. This year’s conference, Invest in local solidarity – cities and volunteers building an inclusive society,  is organised in the framework of the VALUES project – Volunteering Activities to Leverage Urban and European Social integration of migrants, and co-hosted by the city of Nuremberg, partner of VALUES. It will focus on building cohesion and inclusive society at the local level, by involving and engaging communities and citizens. Full press release here.

(16/10) EUROCITIES – Attracting international talent in cities. Cities are looking into new ways to attract international talent and provide incentives for migrants to settle and work in their territories. European societies are ageing fast and are therefore in need of immigration to uphold socio-economic standards, counteract the pressure put on social systems and maintain the essential infrastructure of our economies. One tool to achieve this is Tampere’s Strategic Programme on International Talent Attraction and Migration, a first of its kind in Finland. Mari Taverne, leading Tampere’s work on this topic, says the city’s vision is: “Tampere – the best for you – an attractive and renowned city for international talent”. Full press release here.

(6/10) ECRE – Joint Statement: The Pact on Migration and Asylum: to provide a fresh start and avoid past mistakes, risky elements need to be addressed and positive aspects need to be expanded. The commitment to a more human approach to protection and the emphasis on the fact that migration is needed and positive for Europe with which the European Commission launched the Pact on Migration and Asylum is welcome. However, this rhetoric is reflected only sparsely in the related proposals. Instead of breaking with the fallacies of the EU’s previous approach and offering a fresh start, the Pact risks exacerbating the focus on externalisation, deterrence, containment and return. Full statement here.

Caritas Europa – For the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

Caritas Europa – The impact of EU external migration policies on sustainable development

Council of the EU General Secretariat – Think Tank Review (November)

Council of the EU General Secretariat – Think Tank Review (October)

ECRE – The Future EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion: Ensuring an Approach Inclusive of All

EPRS – Asylum procedures at the border: European Implementation Assessment

ESN – Social Services Investment for Recovery

EU Alliance for Investing in Children – Contribution to the European Commission Public Consultation on the Child Guarantee

EUDiF – Diaspora consultation: Northern Europe

Eurochild – Growing up in lockdown: Europe’s children in the age of COVID-19

European Commission – Analysis of the responses to the public consultation on the integration and inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background (Synthesis report)

European Commission – Opportunities and challenges for the use of artificial intelligence in border control, migration and security

European Commission – Report on the consultation on the integration and inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background

European Parliament – High-level Interparliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe – Managing asylum and migration together

FRA – Fundamental rights implications of COVID-19

FRA – Migration: Worsening conditions for migrants and refugees across Europe

GI-TOC/Clingendael – The Intersection of Irregular Migration and Trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel

JRC – Women from a migrant background face double challenges on the labour market

MMC – Mixed Migration Review 2020

Mo Ibrahim Foundation – 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance

MPI-Europe – Building Welcome from the Ground up: European small and rural communities engaging in refugee resettlement

MPI-Europe – The Next Generation of Refugee Resettlement in Europe

OECD – What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrants and their children?

Oxfam International – The real common interest The converging EU and North African migration agendas: where do people’s interests come in?

PICUM – Non-exhaustive overview of European government measures impacting undocumented migrants taken in the context of COVID-19