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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.

The need for solidarity in EU asylum policy

23-09-2020

In early September 2020, a fire in the over-crowded migrant camp of Moria in Greece pushed thousands of people onto the streets, exacerbating the already dire conditions faced by asylum-seekers and migrants. The incident also shows the need to find a solution to a crisis of solidarity in EU asylum policy that has remained unresolved since the unprecedented influx of migrants into the EU in 2015. The European Commission presented a new Pact on Asylum and Migration on 23 September 2020. In that, it ...

In early September 2020, a fire in the over-crowded migrant camp of Moria in Greece pushed thousands of people onto the streets, exacerbating the already dire conditions faced by asylum-seekers and migrants. The incident also shows the need to find a solution to a crisis of solidarity in EU asylum policy that has remained unresolved since the unprecedented influx of migrants into the EU in 2015. The European Commission presented a new Pact on Asylum and Migration on 23 September 2020. In that, it puts forward a compromise on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility for asylum-seekers among EU Member States.

Turkey: Remodelling the eastern Mediterranean: Conflicting exploration of natural gas reserves

04-09-2020

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral ...

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral deals, such as its November 2019 memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which purports to determine new maritime boundaries. The Turkey-Libya MoU effectively drew a dividing line between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean, threatening maritime security, natural gas exploration and new infrastructures such as the EastMed pipeline. Turkey's behaviour, beyond its geo-economic interests, reflects a more ambitious geopolitical 'neo-Ottoman' agenda intent on remodelling the whole region by spreading the country's influence from northern Iraq and Syria to Libya and leaving behind the Kemalist tradition of secularism and regional neutrality. Tensions in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean have not been conducive to good neighbourly relations. The international community has strongly condemned Turkey's behaviour. Taking into account Turkey's poor track record in upholding human rights and the rule of law, the European Union has suspended accession negotiations and all pre-accession funds under the planned new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027. The European Parliament has condemned Turkey's illegal drilling activities as well as its military interventions in the region.

States of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis: Situation in certain Member States IV

07-07-2020

With the virulence of the coronavirus pandemic gradually diminishing, and in the light of the restrictive measures adopted by Member States, attention remains on the way chosen by the various states to respond to the crisis. With states at various stages of relaxing emergency constraints, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to last in terms of health, economic, social, psychological and possibly even political impact. Although public attention is now turned towards the widely differing ...

With the virulence of the coronavirus pandemic gradually diminishing, and in the light of the restrictive measures adopted by Member States, attention remains on the way chosen by the various states to respond to the crisis. With states at various stages of relaxing emergency constraints, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to last in terms of health, economic, social, psychological and possibly even political impact. Although public attention is now turned towards the widely differing measures that states are taking in order to live with the virus, new challenges are emerging as international and domestic traffic, trade and free movement of people are re-established, having been all but frozen. In this context, it is still necessary to complete the overview of Member States' constitutional frameworks in response to the coronavirus pandemic with the hope that this might offer some guidance or insight, should a comparable crisis arise in the future. This is the last in a series of four briefings and completes the comparative overview of Member States' institutional responses to the coronavirus crisis by analysing the legislation of Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Slovakia. The first in the series gave an overview of the responses in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain, the second covered Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Romania and Slovenia, while the third covered Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Unaccompanied migrant children in Greece: New relocation scheme

15-05-2020

In response to increased migratory pressure in Greece along the EU's external border with Turkey in recent months, and following the Greek government's request for support under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Commission has launched a new relocation scheme to speed up the relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to other EU Member States. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who has been entrusted with taking this ...

In response to increased migratory pressure in Greece along the EU's external border with Turkey in recent months, and following the Greek government's request for support under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Commission has launched a new relocation scheme to speed up the relocation of unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to other EU Member States. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who has been entrusted with taking this process forward, will also work in coordination with the Greek government and stakeholders to find sustainable ways to ensure that unaccompanied minors staying in the first-line reception and identification centres ('hotspots') on the Greek islands receive the care and protection they are entitled to. Regardless of a child's reasons for migrating, their situation or status, they all are first and foremost children and have rights as such. Unaccompanied children or children who have been separated from their parents along the way, are, moreover, entitled to special protection under international human rights and European Union asylum law. All too often, however, their rights and needs are neglected. Human rights organisations have repeatedly denounced the precarious and difficult conditions in which unaccompanied minors are living in the Greek hotspots. The proposed relocation initiative is urgently needed. However, the ongoing political and academic debate also shows a clear need for more structural solutions, in the form of more solidarity and responsibility-sharing among EU Member States, and a coordinated, child rights-based approach to addressing the many protection gaps unaccompanied children face when arriving in Europe.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, April 2020

20-04-2020

For the second time since the introduction of strict coronavirus containment measures, the European Parliament conducted its April plenary session with the majority of Members participating remotely, and used the alternative voting procedure put in place by Parliament's Bureau for the March II session. This temporary voting procedure is available for use until 31 July 2020, unless extended by Bureau decision. As in March, the session focused on a number of urgent legislative proposals as well as ...

For the second time since the introduction of strict coronavirus containment measures, the European Parliament conducted its April plenary session with the majority of Members participating remotely, and used the alternative voting procedure put in place by Parliament's Bureau for the March II session. This temporary voting procedure is available for use until 31 July 2020, unless extended by Bureau decision. As in March, the session focused on a number of urgent legislative proposals as well as amendments to the EU's 2020 budget to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Members also heard from the Presidents of the European Council and Commission on the coordination of the European response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Parliament then adopted a resolution setting out its position on the response to the pandemic and its consequences, ahead of the next video-conference meeting of EU Heads of State or Government, on 23 April. In this resolution, Members called for a massive economic recovery package, greater coordination on cross-border health threats, and condemned national emergency measures that restrict civil liberties.

Amending Budget No 1/2020: Support to Greece to face migration pressure, measures to fight coronavirus and reconstruction assistance to Albania

15-04-2020

Draft Amending Budget No 1/2020 (DAB 1/2020) would provide additional funds to help address the needs arising from the increased migration pressures in Greece, assist Member States to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak through meeting needs for equipment and medical products, and contribute to Albania's post-earthquake reconstruction. The European Parliament is expected to vote, under the urgent procedure, on the Council position on DAB 1/2020 during the 16-17 April plenary session.

Draft Amending Budget No 1/2020 (DAB 1/2020) would provide additional funds to help address the needs arising from the increased migration pressures in Greece, assist Member States to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak through meeting needs for equipment and medical products, and contribute to Albania's post-earthquake reconstruction. The European Parliament is expected to vote, under the urgent procedure, on the Council position on DAB 1/2020 during the 16-17 April plenary session.

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.

Detecting and protecting victims of trafficking in hotspots

15-07-2019

This study focuses on the issue of trafficking in human beings in the specific context of hotspots. It analyses the processes in place to facilitate the detection of victims when they arrive by sea on Greek and Italian shores, as well as the protection they are granted.

This study focuses on the issue of trafficking in human beings in the specific context of hotspots. It analyses the processes in place to facilitate the detection of victims when they arrive by sea on Greek and Italian shores, as well as the protection they are granted.

Resettlement of refugees: EU framework

29-03-2019

Resettlement is one tool to help displaced persons in need of protection reach Europe safely and legally, and receive protection for as long as necessary. It is a durable solution which includes selection and transfer of refugees from a country where they seek protection to another country. Apart from providing international protection to refugees, its aim is also to strengthen solidarity and responsibility-sharing between countries. For a resettlement to take place, the United Nations Refugee Agency ...

Resettlement is one tool to help displaced persons in need of protection reach Europe safely and legally, and receive protection for as long as necessary. It is a durable solution which includes selection and transfer of refugees from a country where they seek protection to another country. Apart from providing international protection to refugees, its aim is also to strengthen solidarity and responsibility-sharing between countries. For a resettlement to take place, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has to determine an applicant is a refugee according to the 1951 Geneva Convention, and has to identify resettlement as the most appropriate solution. On 13 July 2016, as part of the reform of the Common European Asylum System and the long-term policy on better migration management, the Commission presented a proposal which aims to provide for a permanent framework with standard common procedures for resettlement across the EU, and will complement current national and multilateral resettlement initiatives. Although a partial provisional agreement on the proposal was reached between the Parliament and Council in summer 2018, the Council has been unable to endorse that, nor agree on a mandate for further negotiations.

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