Statewatch article: RefNo# 36089
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.2.16)
Statewatch News Online, February 2016
- "RETURNS": EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC): No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - Extracts concerning the establishment of the Frontex Return Office (LIMITE doc no: 6106-16, pdf)

The 'Returns' part of the borders guard proposal has been revised - it no longer provides for operations against a Member State's objections. But it still applies to third countries - ie Frontex will coordinate returns from Serbia etc so that people do not get any closer to the EU.

- Council: DRAFT COMPROMISE for REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (LIMITE doc no: 5848-16, pdf):

"Delegations will find in the Annex to this Note a series of Presidency draft compromise suggestions on the basis of the discussions that have taken place so far on the above proposal, as well as of the written contributions submitted by delegations.

The suggested compromise text is demonstrated in bold and underline. It is noted that compromise suggestions for Article 2 (which is put in square brackets) will be put forward at a later stage when the discussions on the relevant operative provisions will be advanced."


- EU-GREECE: 50 "RECOMMENDATIONS": Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the serious deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (pdf) Final text: adopted by the Council at its 3445th meeting held on 12 February 2016.

- Frontex Executive Director to meet NATO Secretary General and EU Commissioner Avramopoulos
(link):

"Frontex currently has 775 officers and support staff deployed on the Greek islands as part of Poseidon Rapid Intervention. The operation also includes 15 vessels patrolling the areas most affected by the migration flows.

“We will work closely with NATO and its members to cooperate in doing all we can to combat the criminals making billions of euros from smuggling desperate people from Turkey to Greece,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri."


- Greece: Unknown dead fill Lesbos cemetery for refugees drowned at Sea (todayszaman.com, link):

"She drowned trying to reach Europe, but her headless body was never identified. Her tombstone will bear no name.

Like others buried beside her in an olive grove on the Greek island of Lesbos, the marble plaque on her unmarked grave will proclaim the victim "Unknown." Her epitaph an identification number, the date she washed ashore, and her presumed age: one.

Sixty-four earthen graves have been dug in this land plot for refugees and migrants who drowned crossing the Aegean Sea trying to reach Europe. Just 27 of those are named."


- URGENT CALL TO ACTION: EU plans to criminalise charities and individuals for helping war refugees in Greek Islands (iona.org.uk, link): "“The Schengen countries are just watching this crime happening in the world and they didn’t take action when it was happening. And they think that Greece is responsible for this when we are victims too.” We now call on everyone who supports this work to take action now to circulate this urgent call to action and take action yourself to help make a difference in the world." see also: Statewatch News story: Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted

News (13-14.2.16)

Turkey presents own project for use of EU refugee fund to Brussels (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Voicing unease with calls on Turkey to open its border to take in tens of thousands more Syrian refugees fleeing regime advances around Aleppo, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçin Akdogan has said Turkey has sent the EU a package of project plans for the 3 billion-euro refugee fund."

Czech foreign minister offers Macedonia help in tackling migrant crisis (Radio Praha, link): "Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek held talks with top officials in Macedonia on Wednesday offering the country material and personnel assistance in dealing with the refugee crisis. The minister stressed the need to bring the flow of migrants on the so-called Balkans route under control and highlighted the crucial role of Macedonia in helping to bring this about."

Greece: Refugees crisis concerns all EU, Tsipras and Italian parliament president Boldrini state (ANAmpa, link): "In their talks in front of the cameras before their meeting at Maximos mansion in Athens, Tsipras noted that Europe is at a crucial point and that "we have to deal with three crises, the ongoing economic crisis, the refugee crisis and the security crisis."

Serbia: 'In 2015 we had 600,000 migrants pass through Serbia' (DW, link): "Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic wants unified EU action on refugees. He says that if Austria and other EU countries close their borders to refugees, Serbia would be forced to reconsider its policies."

Norway's 'effective' border checks extended (The Local.no,, link): "The Norwegian government said on Friday it would extend border checks for an additional 30 days."

France: Police and 'militias' attacking refugees at Calais, says charity (Observer, link): "Rise in number of ‘Jungle’ camp refugees, including children, being treated for stabbings, broken bones and head trauma"

France and Russia blast Merkel's refugee policy (The Local.de, link): "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy, which brought 1.1 million asylum seekers to Germany in 2015, is not sustainable in the long run, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned Friday."

Greece's Economy Is Getting Crushed Between Austerity And The Refugee Crisis: The most common arrival point for refugees entering Europe is a country in dire economic strait (Huffington Post, link): "The refugee crisis is testing the limits of Greece’s flagging economy, jeopardizing its ability to handle a flow of refugees that shows no signs of slowing. Added to the existing strains of austerity, the renewed economic pressure from the crisis is stoking fears within the Greek government that a new wave of anti-refugee xenophobia could take hold unless the European Union and Turkey significantly step up to help manage the crisis."

Turkey presents own project for use of EU refugee fund to Brussels (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Voicing unease with calls on Turkey to open its border to take in tens of thousands more Syrian refugees fleeing regime advances around Aleppo, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçin Akdogan has said Turkey has sent the EU a package of project plans for the 3 billion-euro refugee fund."

Some 80,000 refugees arrive in Europe in first six weeks of 2016 (UNHCR, link): "Despite rough seas and harsh winter weather, more than 80,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by boat during the first six weeks of 2016, more than in the first four months of 2015, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, announced today.... "The majority of those arriving in January 2016, nearly 58 per cent, were women and children; one in three people arriving to Greece were children as compared to just 1 in 10 in September 2015," UNHCR's Chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a press briefing in Geneva. Fleming added that over 91 per cent of those arriving in Greece come from the world's top ten refugee producing countries, including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Greece: Avramopoulos plays down Schengen warning as Greece faces deadline(ekathimerini.com, link): "“Today the European Council adopted, as expected, the recommendations for addressing the deficiencies and shortcomings at Greece’s borders – which are also the external borders of Schengen,” Avramopoulos said during a visit to Athens for talks with the leftist-led government that has found itself under escalating pressure to take action."

EU moves toward longer-term suspension of open borders (dailysabah.com, link): "The EU took another step toward the suspension of the open-borders zone for two years due to a failure to agree on a common solution. Meanwhile, the Balkan countries’ plan to block the migration route may cause thousands of migrants to be stranded along the route."

Greece has 3 months to remedy ‘deficiencies’ in border control, EU member states say (dailysabah.com, link): "EU member states on Friday gave Greece a three-month ultimatum to remedy "deficiencies" in controlling the influx of refugees or face border controls with the rest of the Schengen passport-free zone, EU sources said."

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