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 27.11.2019

(25/11) Africa-Europe Alliance: Denmark provides €10 million for sustainable development under the EU External Investment Plan. Today, the European Commission and Denmark signed a transfer agreement for a voluntary contribution of around €10 million (DKK 75 million) to the EU External Investment Plan. The European Investment Plan is a key tool of the Africa-Europe Alliance. Most of the contribution will go to the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), the financing arm of the EU External Investment Plan. This is the largest single contribution to the Fund by an EU Member State.  A signing ceremony for the contribution took place at the margins of the Council of EU development ministers in Brussels. Full press release here.

(21/11) Afghanistan: EU reinforces humanitarian support with €40 million as crisis worsens. The European Commission has allocated an additional €40 million in emergency assistance for those affected by the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, as well as for Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. This brings total EU humanitarian aid for the Afghan crisis to €77 million in 2019: €61 million in Afghanistan, €9 million in Pakistan and €7 million in Iran. Full press release here.

(21/11) Central African Republic: Council agrees on a future CSDP mission to support security sector reform. The Council adopted a crisis management concept for a new civilian CSDP Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic (EUAM RCA). The mission will support the reform of the internal security forces to enable the CAR authorities to mitigate the current security challenges in the country. EU experts will support the Ministry of the Interior and the internal security forces, the police and the gendarmerie, with the aim of helping in their deployment throughout the country. The mission will provide advice to the CAR authorities at the strategic level to support the sustainable transformation of CAR internal security forces into a coherent and accountable security provider operating under national ownership. The mission will coordinate closely with the military EU Training Mission (EUTM RCA), the UN MINUSCA mission and the international community. Full press release here.

(19/11) Border management: EU signs agreement with Serbia on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation. Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Serbia on border management cooperation between Serbia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and by Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland and President of the Council and, and on behalf of the Republic of Serbia by Nebojša Stefanović, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. Full press release here.

(19/11) Rwanda: the EU provides €10.3 million for life-saving refugee support measures. During his visit to Rwanda, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica has announced a €10.3 million support package to the UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda, which provides a life-saving avenue out of Libya for people in need of international protection, with a view to their further resettlement. The funding is provided through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. This initiative builds on the example of the ETM Niger, through which more than 2,900 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated out of Libya since 2017. Full press release here.

(13/11) Humanitarian aid: EU announces additional €35 million for Africa’s Sahel region. A rise in the number and spread of conflicts in countries across Africa’s Sahel region is putting further strains on already fragile communities. To help those most in need, the European Commission is stepping up its support with a further €35 million in humanitarian aid. Full press release here.

(13/11) Adjustments to names of portfolios of Commissioners-designate. President-elect Ursula von der Leyen agreed following fruitful discussions with the European Parliament, to make several adjustments concerning the names of portfolios of future Commissioners. In particular, the portfolio of Commissioner-designate Nicolas Schmit will be called ‘Jobs and Social Rights’. The portfolio of Vice-President-designate Margaritis Schinas will be named ‘Promoting the European Way of Life’. And the portfolio of Commissioner-designate Virginijus Sinkevičius will be called ‘Environment, Oceans and Fisheries’. In addition, the President-elect assigned the responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the European Semester to Commissioner-designate Paolo Gentiloni. Full press release here.

(12/11) SheInvest – new initiative to mobilise EUR 1 billion for women across Africa. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched SheInvest, a new initiative to boost gender equality and female economic empowerment. The aim is to mobilise EUR 1 billion of investment that can benefit millions of women across Africa with better access to finance and by making sustainable infrastructure services and products work for them. This initiative was launched simultaneously at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg and at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg. Full press release here.

(11/11) Humanitarian Aid: EU allocates €55 million in Sudan. The European Commission is mobilising €55 million to help vulnerable people caught in humanitarian crises in Sudan. The announcement comes as at least 8 million people in Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, with 6.3 million not having enough food to meet their needs. One in six children is also suffering from acute undernourishment. Full press release here.

(11/11) Africa-Europe Alliance: two new financial guarantees under the EU External Investment Plan. Today in the margins of the 2019 Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, the European Commission signed two guarantee agreements with two Member States’ development finance institution: the Dutch ‘Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V’ (FMO) and the Italian ‘Cassa Depositi e Prestiti’ (CDP). These guarantee agreements are part of the implementation of the EU External Investment Plan, the financial arm of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. Full press release here.

(7/11) EU supports Yemen with €79 million to sustain public services and generate job opportunities. The European Commission has today adopted a €79 million package to support Yemen, where violent conflict has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and devastated livelihoods since 2015. This support will help to sustain public services, such as health and education, and to develop livelihood opportunities. Full press release here.

(31/10) Implementation of EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: EU mobilises €663 million in humanitarian assistance. The European Commission is mobilising €663 million in humanitarian aid to continue major projects under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. €600 million will ensure the continuity of the EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme – the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). The remaining funds will continue supporting projects in the areas of education and essential services such as healthcare. Full press release here.

(26/11) Children’s rights: combatting exploitation, forced marriage and sexual abuse. MEPs call for more action to combat child trafficking and forced marriage, whilst stressing the crucial contribution that kids make in the fight against climate change. Following the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November, the European Parliament adopted a resolution, assessing the many challenges that children and youth face today. Full press release here.

(25/11) Humanitarian assistance and international humanitarian law: Council adopts conclusions. The Council today adopted conclusions on humanitarian assistance and international humanitarian law (IHL). The conclusions will guide the common messaging of the EU and the member states at the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions and the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent that will take place in Geneva on 9-12 December. The Council reaffirms its strong support for the respect for and the promotion of IHL as operationalised in the EU Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with IHL. The Council also underlines that international law is one of the strongest tools the international community has for ensuring the protection and dignity of all persons and recalls the obligation to respect and ensure respect for it in all circumstances. The conclusions also convey the EU’s commitment to respond to the rapidly growing humanitarian needs around the world, to strengthen coordination between humanitarian, development and peace action, and to address more effectively the humanitarian impact of climate change. The EU’s readiness to do its utmost to strengthen effective multilateralism and to promote a rules-based international order where no state or individual is above the law and no person is outside the protection of the law is also highlighted. Full press release here.

(8/11) European Border and Coast Guard: Council adopts revised regulation. The Council adopted today a new regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard, an important element of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration and border management. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is being strengthened in terms of staff and technical equipment. It is also being given a broader mandate to support member states’ activities, especially on border control, return and cooperation with third countries. The new regulation will incorporate the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) into the European Border and Coast Guard framework, to improve its functioning. Full press release here.

(19/11) FRA – Young migrants: Is Europe creating a lost generation? Delays and serious challenges integrating young refugees who have fled war and persecution risk creating a lost generation, finds a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report. While it identifies some good practices, it urges Member States to learn from each other to give these young people an adequate chance in life. Full press release here.

(19/11) EASO – More than half a million asylum applications lodged in the EU+ so far in 2019. More than half a million (515 825) asylum applications have been lodged in the EU+ during the first nine months of 2019, up by 10% compared to the same period a year ago. The proportion of applications receiving a positive decision (known as “recognition rate”) so far this year was 34%, compared to 33% in the first nine months of 2018. Most applications were lodged by nationals of Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela. These three citizenships continued to account for a quarter of all asylum applications in the EU+. For the sixth consecutive month, Afghan applications outnumbered Venezuelan, and peaked in September, when more applications were lodged (> 5 600) than in any month since December 2016. Full press release here.

(8/11) ECRE – UN: Huge Risks at Land and Sea Routes – Resettlement Places in Dire Need. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warns that migrants are even more likely to lose their life on the land routes in Africa attempting to reach the Mediterranean than attempting to cross it. Yet alternatives remain limited. In Libya hundreds of vulnerable people were sleeping rough outside the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli as according to UNHCR the transit centre is already overcrowded and there is a lack of available resettlement places globally. Full press release here.

(8/11) ECRE – The IRC Calls for a Renewed and Improved EU Action Plan on Integration. In its latest policy brief, “Getting Back on Track” the International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for the renewal of the EU Action Plan on Integration to complement and coordinate efforts aimed at fostering the integration of refugees and asylum-seekers in the EU. Full press release here.

(31/10) ECRE – Op-ed: Refugees Shouldn’t Be Used as Props to Alert to the Dangers of Climate Change. Recent mobilisations against climate change, such as those initiated by activist Greta Thunberg or civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion, have awaken many about the imminent threats presented by climate change. Climate change is finally recognised as a crucial political issue, and this is a welcome development – yet to be followed by meaningful political action. The impacts of climate change in developing countries are key drivers of migration and displacement, both internal and across national borders. They affect directly millions of people, and also weigh in significantly on the political or economic drivers of migration and displacement. For example, about half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa depend directly on subsistence agriculture as a primary source of income, which means that any change in temperature or rainfall has severe and immediate economic consequences for these households. Full article here.

(31/10) ECRE – Joint Statement: NGOs Call on the EU and its Member States to Demonstrate Leadership on Resettlement at the Global Refugee Forum 2019. Full statement here.

(31/10) ECRE – UNDP Report: Stark Personal and Socio-economic Implications of Lack of Legal Pathways. The report “Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe” released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focuses on development related migration through irregular routes. The report concludes that migration is “a reverberation of development progress” and that the lack of legal routes has “stark personal and socio-economic Implications”. Full press release here.

(29/10) Social Platform – Baby steps in the EU’s fight against discrimination. Last week, European Ministers responsible for Employment and Social Affairs met in Luxembourg. They adopted conclusions on the Economy of Wellbeing and re-opened a long-standing debate on how to enhance anti-discrimination in the European Union. In the context of growing protest movements raging around the world for more democracy and social justice, it is reassuring to see EU Member States coming together to jointly define how to systematically take into account the wellbeing perspective when designing policy measures and how to advance the EU’s fight against discrimination. But what do we learn about the exchanges that took place last week? Full article here.