Statewatch article: RefNo# 6920
EU Buffer states and 'processing' centres
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 13 no 2 March-April 2003
The EU has come a long way since the creation of "Fortress Europe" in the mid-1980s, which sought to construct a "cordon sanitaire" at its external borders to keep migrants out. Tentative steps were taken in the late 1990s to try and introduce readmission agreements with third world countries so that nationals (and stateless people) could be returned. The High Level Group on Migration, set up in December 1998, attempted to target selected countries (like Somalia and Morocco) by bringing political and economic pressure (like threatening exports and withdrawing aid) to bear to get agreement.
The reaction post-11 September through the "war on terrorism" has been of an entirely new dimension because every refugee and asylum-seeker fleeing poverty and persecution is a potential "terrorist" or criminal (as well as being perceived as a "burden" of western economies).
A new Statewatch analysis of the EU's readmission agreements with non-EU states concludes:
The EU's approach to readmission agreements involves insisting that more and more non-EU countries sign up to road readmission obligations to the EU with little or nothing in return. EU policy has been backed by harsher and harsher rhetoric and threats against third countries as the EU becomes more and more unilateralist and focused solely on migration control. These policies are unbalanced, inhumane, and internally contradictory.
One of the latest initiatives is the creation of a "Circle of friends" or EU “neighbours” which are defined as Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus plus the "Western Newly Independent States (WNIS)" of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo plus the "Southern Mediterranean" states of Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia (only Ukraine and Moldova are seeking accession to the EU). The plan is to create a "friendly neighbourhood" of "prosperity" and "peace" with the underlying motivation being to protect the EU from trans-border threats of terrorism, crime and migration. These countries will be expected to institute "reform" (free market capitalism) and to implement key parts of the EU's acquis communautaire - especially on "enhanced cooperation on justice and security issues" including illegal migration, judicial and police cooperation and "threats to stability". The European Commission is reluctant to define the final borders of the EU but the new formalised "buffer states" will create in turn problems for the new set of buffer states like Western Sahara, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan in Africa, Georgia, Armenia and Iran and in Asia Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and even the USA (in the Bering Straits). It can be expected, like in the past, that buffer states be subjected to political and economic pressures to to adopt EU “standards” on the control of migration (and crime).
The EU has thus moved through a number of stages: i) "Fortress Europe" to secure its own borders, the creation of "buffer states" (against immigration, terrorism and crime) in central and eastern Europe states, most of which are to join the EU in 2004, ii) now there is the creation of formal new "neighbour" states which in turn creates new "buffer" states.
This latest development coincides with two other strategic initiatives: First, moves to strengthen "Fortress Europe" through controls at the external borders of the EU, the move from voluntary repatriation to forced repatriation and new laws to punish those who harbour or give work to un-recorded migrants (see Statewatch vol 12 no 5). The second initiative is the swift adoption of the UK government proposal to create so-called "safe havens" (camps which do not have to meet EU standards) in "neighbour" states (eg: Ukraine) and "region of origin" (eg: West Africa), to return migrants suffering poverty and persecution to camps in the countries or regions from which they are fleeing.
Internal UNHCR documents dated April 2003 show that t

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