Statewatch article: RefNo# 36072
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and very important new documents, 10.2.16)
Statewatch News Online, February 2016
Refugee crisis: European Commission "State of Play" reports: 10 February 2015

- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Progress on Priority Actions (Press release, pdf):

"In view of next week's European Council, the Commission is today reporting on the implementation of the priority actions under the European Agenda for Migration and highlighting key areas where immediate action is needed to restore control."

- Managing the Refugee Crisis: Commission reports on implementation of EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (pdf):

"First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "I...We will continue to work jointly with our Turkish partners to fully implement the joint action plan so we can deliver on the commitments taken to bring order into migratory flows.."

- Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission acts on 9 infringement proceedings (Press release, pdf)

"The European Commission today decided to issue reasoned opinions against Member States in 9 infringement cases concerning their non-transposition of the Common European Asylum System. The decisions concern Germany (2 cases), Estonia, Slovenia (2 cases), Greece, France, Italy and Latvia."

- State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration: COM 85-2016 (pdf)

Commission arguing today that Turkey is a 'safe third country' so Greece & other MS should send refugees back

"Safe third countries

The Asylum Procedures Directive provides Member States with the possibility not to examine the substance of an asylum claim where, due to a sufficient connection with a "safe third country", the applicant can instead seek protection there. Where the conditions are met, this provision allows Member States to close the asylum procedure and to return the asylum applicant to the safe third country in question. However, at this stage, not all Member States foresee the application of this possibility in their national laws, or they do so under restrictive conditions. All Member States are therefore encouraged to foresee in their national legislation the notion of safe third countries and to apply it when the conditions are met.

In this context, the Commission underlines that the concept of safe third country as defined in the Asylum Procedures Directive requires that the possibility exists to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention, but does not require that the safe third country has ratified that Convention without geographical reservation. Moreover, as regards the question whether there is a connection with the third country in question, and whether it is therefore reasonable for the applicant to go to that country, it can also be taken into account whether the applicant has transited through the safe third country in question, or whether the third country is geographically close to the country of origin of the applicant."
[emphasis added]

- Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation as of 1 June 2016 (pdf) and ANNEX 1 (pdf)

- Annex 1: EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan - Implementation Report (pdf)

- Annex 2: Greece - State of Play Report (pdf)

- Annex 3 - Italy - State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 4: Relocation (pdf)

- Annex 5: Follow up to Western Balkans Leaders' Meeting - State of Play report (pdf)

- Annex 7: Pledges (pdf)

- Annex 8: Implementation of EU law - State of Play (pdf)

- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Commission reports on progress in Greece, Italy and the Western Balkans (Press Release, pdf)

CARRY ON AND IMPLEMENT THE DECISIONS: European Council: European Council (18-19 February 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5078-16, pdf):

"All Members of the Schengen area should apply fully the Schengen Borders Code and refuse entry at external borders to third-country nationals who do not satisfy the entry conditions or who have not made an asylum application despite having had the opportunity to do so...

As far as the "European Border and Coast Guard" proposal is concerned, work should be accelerated with a view to reaching a political agreement under the Netherlands Presidency."


European Parliament: Turkey: more needs to be done for refugees living outside camps, Civil Liberties MEPs say (pdf):

"The efforts of the Turkish government to care for the high number of Syrian refugees living in refugee camps in the country must be recognised, members of the Civil Liberties Committee visiting Turkey said on Wednesday. But they also stressed that the situation for refugees outside the camps is precarious and that more needs to be done to ensure health, food, education and employment."

At the Macedonian border, migrants know time is running out (The Economist, link):

"Syrian refugees fear the border will close. For north Africans it already has.

ON THE migrant trail at the border between Greece and Macedonia, everyone is scared. Refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are scared that Europe’s doors are closing. Economic migrants from Morocco and Algeria, trying to pass themselves off as refugees, are frightened that they will be turned back and forced to take deadly risks to evade border guards. The Greeks are worried that if the Macedonians seal the border, the refugees will be trapped in Greece. The Macedonians are frightened that the Serbs, one step further along the migrant route, will do the same to them."


Law Allows Detention of Asylum Seekers in Bulgaria (Detained, link): "These broad discretionary powers represent a serious risk factor for corruption. Regarding zones of movement, their introduction in a relatively small country like Bulgaria, which, unlike Germany, has a centralized model of government, and in which economic opportunities are concentrated in several big cities, appears unjustified, especially considering that the same bill aims at helping asylum seekers participate in the labour market by giving them the right to work after three months from the beginning of their asylum procedure."

IOM: 76,263 arrivals in the EU in 2016: 70,365 to Greece, 5,898 to Italy. 409 dead/missing (this number already exceeds the total for he whole of 2105.

News (10.2.16)

Germany says would participate in NATO refugee mission (ekathimerini.com, link): "Germany would take part in a potential NATO mission to help slow refugee flows in the Aegean Sea, the country's defense minister said on Wednesday, a day before the alliance is due to discuss a request for help. Struggling to stop refugees streaming into Greece despite a deal between Ankara and the European Union to combat the flows, Germany and Turkey surprised partners this week by saying they would raise the issue with NATO."

EU moves towards longer-term border checks inside free-travel zone (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union states took a new step towards a two-year suspension of their open-borders zone on Wednesday as the bloc's executive again rebuked them for failing to act on agreements to stem irregular migration. The European Commission, in reports ahead of an EU summit next week when leaders will again discuss how to resolve a crisis that has set them against each other, renewed its pleas for Greece and Italy to speed up the establishment of processing centres to register refugees and deport illegal migrants."

Brussels Briefing: Dublin’s Greece problem (FT Blog, link): "Greece is not in Dublin. While this fact is pretty basic geography, it is also a crucial part of understanding why the EU’s response to the refugee crisis has been so chaotic. It all goes back to a 2011 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which deemed Greece’s asylum system “degrading”. Since then Greece has not been a fully functioning member of the Dublin system, which is supposed to ensure asylum seekers apply for shelter in their first port of call. If they do not do this, and head to another EU country, then that country should deport them back to where they started. Or so Dublin says."

We'll send in the warships, says Nato: Vessels set to patrol the Aegean Sea in attempt to stop migrants crossing (Mail Online, link): "German chancellor called allies to send vessels to patrol the Turkish coast - Defence ministers are considering military action to stop people smugglers - Decision could be seen as admission that EU has failed to tackle the influx - Downing Street refused to comment on whether British vessels are sent."

Greek gov’t cautious as NATO gets call for help (ekathimerini.com, link): "Wary of Turkish assertiveness in the Aegean, Athens received the initiative with caution. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that any NATO involvement should be restricted to the Turkish coast and guarantee Greek sovereign rights. Greece is expected to repeat its position when Defense Minister Panos Kammenos attends the Brussels talks."

Border fences will not stop migrants heading to Europe, think-tank says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Efforts by European countries to deter migrants with border fences, teargas and asset seizures will not stem the flow of people into the continent, and European leaders should make their journeys safer, a think-tank said on Wednesday."

Kos aiming for referendum on hosting hot spot (ekathimerini.com, link): "The municipal council on Kos, where some residents have strongly opposed efforts to construct a processing center for migrants and refugees, on Tuesday decided to hold a referendum on the island to canvass locals’ opinions about the so-called hot spot."

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