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EU External Migration Policy and the Protection of Human Rights

28-09-2020

This in-depth analysis focuses on the human rights implications of EU external migration policy interventions: (1) identifying human rights obligations owed to third-country nationals when engaging in cooperation with third countries and non-EU actors; (2) assessing the means and level of compliance with these obligations when designing and implementing the main policy instruments; and (3) determining the existence and adequacy of operational, reporting, monitoring and accountability mechanisms available ...

This in-depth analysis focuses on the human rights implications of EU external migration policy interventions: (1) identifying human rights obligations owed to third-country nationals when engaging in cooperation with third countries and non-EU actors; (2) assessing the means and level of compliance with these obligations when designing and implementing the main policy instruments; and (3) determining the existence and adequacy of operational, reporting, monitoring and accountability mechanisms available in each case to track and respond to potential violations. Particular attention is paid to soft-law tools, on account of their enhanced potential to erode the enforceability of obligations, to downgrade democratic accountability and generally undermine the rule of law. Paving the way for the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, special emphasis is placed on cooperation under the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, the EU Agenda on Migration and the Migration Partnership Framework, including informal arrangements concluded by Frontex or by the Member States themselves. Four case studies guide the analysis and illustrate findings: (1) the EU-Turkey Statement; (2) the multi-modal cooperation with Libya; (3) the Joint Way Forward with Afghanistan; and (4) collaboration with Niger under the EUCAP Sahel mission. The in-depth analysis reveals that the full effect of the EU fundamental rights acquis in extra-territorial situations has not been duly accounted for and proposes a system to ensure compliance with the relevant standards covering the pre-conclusion, design, adoption, implementation, evaluation and review phases, highlighting the role of the European Parliament and civil society organisations.

Külső szerző

Dr Violeta MORENO-LAX,

Hotspots at EU external borders: State of play

25-09-2020

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the European Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration in April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to improve coordination of the EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, in the initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Even though other Member ...

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the European Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration in April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to improve coordination of the EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, in the initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Even though other Member States also have the possibility to benefit from the hotspot approach, only Greece and Italy host hotspots. In Greece, the hotspot approach remains the key strategy in addressing migratory pressures. The EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016, closely linked to the implementation of the hotspot approach in Greece, led to a considerable drop in irregular migration flows from Turkey to the EU. However, returns of irregular migrants to Turkey – a cornerstone of the agreement – are low. The deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the EU is putting the agreement under increasing pressure. The hotspot approach was also set up to contribute to the temporary emergency relocation mechanisms that – between September 2015 and September 2017 – helped to transfer asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States. Even though 96 % of the people eligible had been relocated by the end of March 2018, relocation numbers were far from the targets originally set and the system led to tensions with Czechia, Hungary and Poland, which refused to comply with the mechanism. Since their inception, the majority of the hotspots have suffered from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regard to camp facilities and living conditions – in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers – and to gaps in access to asylum procedures. These shortcomings cause tensions among the migrants and with local populations and have already led to violent protests. On 8 September 2020, a devastating fire in the Moria camp, on Lesvos, only aggravated the existing problems. The European Parliament has called repeatedly for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants. This briefing updates two earlier ones published in March 2016 and in June 2018.

Amending Budget No 5/2020: Continuation of support to refugees in response to the Syria crisis

07-07-2020

Draft Amending Budget No 5/2020 (DAB 5/2020) accompanies the proposed decision of the European Parliament and of the Council to mobilise the Contingency Margin in order to continue support to refugees and host communities in response to the Syria crisis. Under the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) heading 4, 'Global Europe', €100 million in commitment and payment appropriations is proposed as resilience support to refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, whereas €485 million in commitment ...

Draft Amending Budget No 5/2020 (DAB 5/2020) accompanies the proposed decision of the European Parliament and of the Council to mobilise the Contingency Margin in order to continue support to refugees and host communities in response to the Syria crisis. Under the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) heading 4, 'Global Europe', €100 million in commitment and payment appropriations is proposed as resilience support to refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, whereas €485 million in commitment appropriations and €68 million in payment appropriations is proposed as urgent humanitarian support to refugees in Turkey under the Contingency Margin. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the Council position on DAB 5/2020 and the proposal to mobilise the Contingency Margin during its July plenary session.

EU-Iran: The way forward - Can the JCPOA survive the Trump presidency?

07-07-2020

Two issues have dominated relations between the EU and Iran in recent years: the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – including efforts to conclude it, followed by efforts to save it – and human rights concerns. Even though the European Union (EU) and Iran have worked together over the past two years to save the JCPOA, relations between the two have deteriorated. Iran accuses EU Member States of not standing up to pressure from the United States of America ( ...

Two issues have dominated relations between the EU and Iran in recent years: the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – including efforts to conclude it, followed by efforts to save it – and human rights concerns. Even though the European Union (EU) and Iran have worked together over the past two years to save the JCPOA, relations between the two have deteriorated. Iran accuses EU Member States of not standing up to pressure from the United States of America (USA) to isolate Iran and of not doing enough to save the JCPOA. The EU, for its part, is concerned about Iran's enrichment activities; growing tensions in the region and Iran's role in this context, including the provision of military, financial and political support to non-state actors in countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen; and its ballistic missile programme. In 2011, the EU put restrictive measures in place to react to serious human rights violations in Iran. These remain in force. Nevertheless, the EU has continued to engage with Iran, in marked contrast to the USA. Following the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018, the Trump administration re-imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran and has since then pursued a policy of 'maximum pressure'. The declared goal of the maximum pressure campaign is to push Iran to negotiate a new agreement that would also address Iran's ballistic missile programme, end its support of militant groups in the region, and curb its foreign policy ambitions in western Asia. Instead, the US policy of maximum pressure on Tehran has led to an escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region, with potentially direct consequences for Europe. With Iran continuing uranium enrichment to levels far exceeding the levels permitted under the JCPOA, and with the USA threatening to trigger the re-imposition of United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iran, further escalation is likely. Security in the EU is linked to the security situation in western Asia. For that reason, Europe should maintain efforts to preserve the JCPOA and seek to reduce tension between Iran and the USA.

EU fisheries agreement with Guinea-Bissau

11-06-2020

During the June plenary part-session, Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to the conclusion of a new protocol to the existing EU fisheries partnership agreement with the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. Besides granting fishing opportunities to EU vessels in Guinea-Bissauan waters, the protocol aims to promote sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and to support the efforts of Guinea-Bissau to develop its blue economy.

During the June plenary part-session, Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to the conclusion of a new protocol to the existing EU fisheries partnership agreement with the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. Besides granting fishing opportunities to EU vessels in Guinea-Bissauan waters, the protocol aims to promote sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and to support the efforts of Guinea-Bissau to develop its blue economy.

Solidarity in EU asylum policy

23-03-2020

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International ...

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International cooperation and solidarity is key in helping to manage migration to and between states. Under international law, countries have certain legal obligations to assist and protect refugees that they accept on their territory, but the legal duties of other states to help and share that responsibility are less clear. At EU level, the principle of solidarity is set out in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), however there is currently no consensus on whether it can be used as a stand-alone or joint legal basis for secondary legislation. Furthermore, the notions of 'solidarity' and 'fair sharing of responsibilities' for refugees or asylum-seekers are not defined in EU law. This has prompted EU institutions, academics and other stakeholders to propose different ways to resolve the issue, such as sharing out relevant tasks and pooling resources at EU level, compensating frontline Member States financially and through other contributions – such as flexible solidarity – and changing the focus of the European Court of Justice when interpreting EU asylum law. In recent years, the EU has provided the Member States most affected by migrant arrivals with significant financial and practical support, notably through the EU budget and the deployment of personnel and equipment. Nevertheless, the continued failure to reform the EU asylum system, as well as the implementation of temporary solidarity measures based on ad-hoc solutions, has exposed a crisis of solidarity that shows no signs of being resolved. The von der Leyen Commission has made it clear that the new EU asylum system 'should include finding new forms of solidarity and should ensure that all Member States make meaningful contributions to support those countries under the most pressure'.

Emergency measures on migration: Article 78(3) TFEU

06-03-2020

Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides for the adoption of provisional measures in emergency migratory situations at the EU's external borders. It was first used during the 2015 migration crisis. On the basis of that article, the Council of the EU adopted binding decisions providing for the relocation from Italy and Greece of 160 000 people so as to ensure a fair and balanced distribution of, and sharing of responsibility for, asylum-seekers who were ...

Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides for the adoption of provisional measures in emergency migratory situations at the EU's external borders. It was first used during the 2015 migration crisis. On the basis of that article, the Council of the EU adopted binding decisions providing for the relocation from Italy and Greece of 160 000 people so as to ensure a fair and balanced distribution of, and sharing of responsibility for, asylum-seekers who were already present in the EU. However, despite most Member States' willingness to relocate asylum-seekers, some challenged the Council's decision before the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) or refused to help implement the decision. On 1 March 2020, in the light of events on its Turkish border, Greece announced that it wanted Article 78(3) TFEU to be used to ensure full EU support in the situation of a sudden influx of third-country nationals into the EU.

EU fisheries agreement with The Gambia

10-12-2019

During its December plenary session, Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to the conclusion of a new sustainable fisheries partnership agreement and implementing protocol with the Republic of The Gambia. The agreement provides an updated framework for bilateral fisheries cooperation, whereas the protocol grants fishing opportunities to EU vessels in Gambian waters and aims to promote a sustainable fisheries policy and the responsible exploitation of fisheries resources in the area.

During its December plenary session, Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to the conclusion of a new sustainable fisheries partnership agreement and implementing protocol with the Republic of The Gambia. The agreement provides an updated framework for bilateral fisheries cooperation, whereas the protocol grants fishing opportunities to EU vessels in Gambian waters and aims to promote a sustainable fisheries policy and the responsible exploitation of fisheries resources in the area.

The powers of the European Parliament

04-11-2019

Since its inception in 1951, the European Parliament has come a long way. Initially a consultative body composed of delegations of national parliaments, it became a directly elected institution, obtained budgetary and legislative powers, and now exercises influence over most aspects of EU affairs. Together with representatives of national governments, who sit in the Council, Parliament co-decides on European legislation, in what could be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. It can reject ...

Since its inception in 1951, the European Parliament has come a long way. Initially a consultative body composed of delegations of national parliaments, it became a directly elected institution, obtained budgetary and legislative powers, and now exercises influence over most aspects of EU affairs. Together with representatives of national governments, who sit in the Council, Parliament co-decides on European legislation, in what could be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. It can reject or amend the European Commission's proposals before adopting them so that they become law. Together with the Council of the EU, it adopts the EU budget and controls its implementation. Another core set of European Parliament prerogatives concerns the scrutiny of the EU executive – mainly the Commission. Such scrutiny can take many forms, including parliamentary questions, committees of inquiry and special committees, and scrutiny of delegated and implementing acts. Parliament has made use of these instruments to varying degrees. Parliament has the power to dismiss the Commission (motion of censure), and it plays a significant role in the latter's appointment process. Parliament has a say over the very foundations of the EU. Its consent is required before any new country joins the EU, and before a withdrawal treaty is concluded if a country decides to leave it. Most international agreements entered into by the EU with third countries also require Parliament's consent. Parliament can initiate Treaty reform, and also the 'Article 7(1) TEU' procedure, aimed at determining whether there is a (risk of) serious breach of EU values by a Member State.

International Agreements – Review and Monitoring Clauses - A Rolling Check-List

24-10-2019

This study provides an analysis and overview of the review and monitoring clauses, sunset clauses, consultation clauses and management and implementation clauses contained in bilateral and multilateral international agreements concluded between the EU and other countries, and in force as of 1 September 2019.

This study provides an analysis and overview of the review and monitoring clauses, sunset clauses, consultation clauses and management and implementation clauses contained in bilateral and multilateral international agreements concluded between the EU and other countries, and in force as of 1 September 2019.

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