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    ISSN 1756-851X
    12 December 2019

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.12.19) including:

  • Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border
  • Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route
  • Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye

All EU security and defence missions to adopt access to documents policies - but enforcement will be voluntary

All the missions and operations launched under the EU's common and security and defence policy (CSDP) have been ordered by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to adopt policies on public access to documents by February 2020, but their enforcement will be voluntary and lie beyond the reach of the Court of Justice of the EU.

EU: Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route

The EU should put a "stronger focus" on "the fight against human smuggling" along the Eastern Mediterranean route, according to the interior ministers of almost two dozen central and eastern European states, who have called for joint investigations and enhanced cooperation with Turkey and Western Balkan countries.

Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border

These pushbacks are very problematic on a lot of different levels: asylum seekers are denied their human right to apply for asylum, as well as the possibility to receive protection in Europe.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.11-2.12.19) including:

  • Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues
  • “How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
  • Questions surround Greece's stricter course on refugees

European leaders: Stop punishing asylum seekers on the Greek islands (MSF, link):

"Dear European leaders

Dr Christos Christou, MSF International President “The situation is comparable with what we see in war zones in other parts of the world. It is outrageous to see these conditions in Europe and to know that they are the result of deliberate political choices.” (...)

Stop this deliberate collective punishment of people in search of safety in Europe. Urgently evacuate the most vulnerable people from these centres to safe accommodation in other European states. End the policy of containment."

General Court Rules on Frontex: Less Transparency at EU Borders (Frag Den Staat, link):

"The first lawsuit against Frontex by a civil society organisation was not successful: the European Court in Luxembourg, following a joint lawsuit by freedom of information activists Luisa Izuzquiza and Arne Semsrott, decided that the European Border Police do not have to disclose any information about their ships in connection with operations at the EU's external borders.

See: Judgment (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.11.19) including:

  • New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions
  • EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees
  • Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

EU: 'Roadmap' for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead

A 'roadmap' sets out the actions needed for "rapid and full operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) 2.0 Regulation," described as a "top priority for the EU."

EU-Morocco: EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001

Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue.

See Statewatch Analysis: Aid, border security and EU-Morocco cooperation on migration control (pdf)

EU-USA talks on the exchange of e-evidence reveals major differences - USA-UK deal muddies the water

The Commission has produced a report on the 2nd round of talks on the EU-USA exchange of electronic evidence held in Washington on 6 November 2019. It shows that many differences need to be sorted out and reveals that a UK-USA bilateral agreement in the US legislative pipeline takes contradictory line to that of the Commission. See:

Report of the Commission services on the second round of negotiations in view of an agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on cross-border access to electronic evidence for judicial cooperation in criminal matters, 6 November 2019 (Council Restricted doc no:13713-19, pdf)

Greece migrant crisis: 'Horrible' camps to shut amid influx (BBC News, link):

"Overcrowded, open camps that have become home to 33,000 asylum seekers on five Aegean islands are to be shut down and replaced with closed centres.

Four or five new sites will be set up to house 1,000 to 5,000 people. (...)

The proposed sites are being described as "closed pre-departure centres""

Comment: It appears that the current free movement of refugees on the islands after registration will end and they will be locked in the new detention centres until their return to Turkey has breen agreed..

Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

The Finnish Council Presidency wants EU member states to consider new methods for encouraging 'third countries' to accept their own nationals deported from the EU, according to a note (pdf) sent to the High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration and the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA).

NOTE from: Presidency: Policies and tools to enhance readmission cooperation - Presidency discussion paper (LIMITE document 13190/19, 8 November 2019, pdf)

Sea rescue NGOs : a pull factor of irregular migration? (European University Institute, link):

"We find no relationship between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants leaving Libyan shores. Although more data and further research are needed, the results of our analysis call into question the claim that non-governmental SAR operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean sea."

EU: New report: Data Protection, Immigration Enforcement and Fundamental Rights: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status

A new report published by Statewatch and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) explains the EU's new rules on interoperable information systems and databases and examines the potential implications for people in an irregular migration situation.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.10-18.11.19) including:

  • New report: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status
  • Refugee chaperones are accessories to traffickers, German court rules
  • New Greek deportation law approved; Italy renews cooperation with Libya
  • Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession
  • Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya

EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

EU-USA: Meeting on 6 November 2019 discussed agreement on exchange of electronic evidence - including Life imprisonment without review, death penalty and freedom of speech

The European Commission produced:
Note ahead of the second negotiating round for an EU-US Agreement on cross-border access to electronic evidence, 6 November 2019 (Restricted document 13369-19, pdf):

The key issues discussed included the "categories of data" to be covered including "both content and non-content data" and the "types of offences and criminal proceedings, including both pre-trial and trial state"

EU PNR: The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice concerning the obligation to transfer passenger information (pdf)

"The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union in light of the review of the law requiring transportation providers and travel operators to communicate passenger information.

The Court inquires whether the system of the PNR Directive, transposed by the contested law, is compatible with the right to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. In addition, the Court asks several questions regarding the interpretation of the Directive.

Lastly, the Court refers a question to the Court of Justice on the applicability of the API Directive, also transposed in Belgian law, that requires air carriers to communicate certain passenger data to combat illegal immigration and to improve border control. With respect to flights within the European Union, the question arises as to its compatibility with the free movement of persons."

UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights: Right to privacy “may exist on paper” – but not in online “Wild West”, says JCHR (Press release, pdf):

"- Individuals are giving away “vast amounts of data” and are expected to be risk-aware when using web based services

“The consent model is broken”: Committee calls for robust regulation to govern how personal data is used and stringent enforcement of the rules

- “Deeply troubling” evidence that data being used to discriminate in job and housing ads online

The Committee today reports serious grounds for concern about the nature of the “consent” people provide when giving over an extraordinary range of information about themselves, to be used for commercial gain by private companies."

See: Report (pdf)

Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan

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