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    ISSN 1756-851X
    13 February 2016
 

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JUNE 2016: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary

Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU - a humanitarian emergency: Daily news and document updates


EU: Schengen: Greece still unhappy with new external border control demands

The Greek government continues to dispute the findings of a European Commission report that cites "serious deficiencies" in Greece's external border control and application of the Schengen legal framework ("Acquis").

Nevertheless, with Greece voting against and Cyprus and Bulgaria abstaining, the Council of the EU has now adopted a Decision that makes 50 demands on Greece and warns the country "not to jeopardise the functioning of the Schengen area."

UK: Prison sentences for Heathrow 13 activists would threaten our right to protest (The Guardian, link): "Last month, 13 activists were tried in court for carrying out a peaceful protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport. They were found guilty of aggravated trespass, and await sentencing on 24 February. We believe it would be unjust for these people to receive prison sentences for their actions. Sending peaceful demonstrators to jail would represent a massive threat to our right to protest in the UK." And see: What do the Heathrow 13 convictions tells us about future civil disobedience? (Netpol, link)

State surveillance: "going dark"? Maybe not

A new report based on discussions amongst "a diverse group of security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community" suggests that state surveillance is unlikely to be hampered by the rise in the use of encryption to the extent claimed by law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The report: Don't Panic. Making Progress on the "Going Dark" Debate (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and major developments, 11.2.16)

AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE: TURKEY-GREECE-GERMANY-NATO: NATO Defence Ministers agree NATO support to assist with the refugee and migrants crisis (NATO:press release, pdf)

"to stem the illegal trafficking and illegal migration in the Aegean" Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said...The Secretary General stressed that this mission is “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” but about contributing “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.”"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Has noone told him that the great majority of arrivals come over through smuggling not trafficking or that there is no such things as "illegal" migration? And to say that the operation is "not about stopping or pushing back boats" is economical with the truth"

and: NATO launches sea mission against migrant traffickers (Reuters, link): "Unlike the EU's maritime mission off the Italian coast, which brings rescued migrants to Europe's shores, NATO will return migrants to Turkey even if they are picked up in Greek waters."

MASS REFOULEMENT?: Migrant crisis: Nato deploys Aegean people-smuggling patrols (BBC News, link):

"German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen said several Nato members had pledged warships and that any refugees rescued would be returned to Turkey, a fellow Nato ally....

"Nato ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece.. The announcement followed a request from Turkey, Germany and Greece at a defence ministers' meeting in Brussels. Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the mission would not be about "stopping or pushing back refugee boats". Nato, he said, will contribute "critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks"."

and: Defence Minister Kammenos on NATO's involvement in refugee crisis (ANAmpa, link):

"Kammenos noted that Greece in cooperation with Germany as well as other members of the NATO managed to reach an agreement that "will finally solve that migration issue." "Greece has paid an extremely heavy price for the migration and in the midst of an economic crisis disproportianetly with the other state members of EU and NATO," stated Kammenos.

He also said that today's decision safeguards that NATO forces operating in the Aegean will ensure that the migrants to be arrested will directly return to Turkey. The second very important fact is according to the Greek Defence Minister that "it is totally clear that in the forces that will participate in the NATO group, Turkey will only operate inside its territorial waters and airspace and Greece accordingly."
[emphasis added]

EU-GREECE: 50 DEMANDS: Council of the European Union: Draft Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (LIMITE doc no: 5876-15, pdf): Detailed instructions

MASS TRANSFER OF ASYLUM-SEEKERS TO GREECE?: European Commission adopted the following: Recommendation of 10.2.2016 addressed to the Hellenic Republic on the urgent measures to be taken by Greece in view of the resumption of transfers under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf): This Recommendation could mean that asylum seekers - who should under Dublin have been first registered in Greece could be transferred back there by other EU Member States:

"(25) Regular reporting by Greece on the progress being made in implementing these actions, as well as other relevant elements including any forthcoming reports from UNCHR and other relevant organisations, should clarify the assessment of whether the conditions are such as to allow for Member States to resume individual transfers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation, bearing in mind that the volume of transfers and the categories of persons to be transferred should correspond to the specific progress made.

(26) Any resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece should also take into account that Greece still receives a large number of potential asylum seekers on a daily basis, and it should be avoided that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece.

(27) The responsibility for deciding on such resumption of transfers lies exclusively with Member States' authorities under the control of the courts, which may make preliminary references to the European Court of Justice on the interpretation of the Dublin Regulation."

And: "Many asylum-seekers are currently not provided with the necessary free legal aid to enable them to pursue an appeal against a first instance asylum decision, in accordance with the EU rules. The relevant provisions of Council Directive 2013/32/EU have not yet been transposed into national law or implemented." [emphasis added]

The Commission is being dishonest: In the Communication State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European
Agenda on Migration, under the heading "Safe third countries" it says: "Asylum Procedures Directive requires that the possibility exists to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention" (page 18,
COM 85-2016)

The full text of the clause in the Procedures Directive is of course 'the possibility exists to request refugee status and, if found to be a refugee, to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention...'" They have deliberately omitted the part in bold, with the words 'refugee status' and 'refugee', referring to receiving protection only.

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments: "How is it possible for Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and many others to 'request refugee status', to be 'found to be a refugee' and to 'receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention' in a country which (like Turkey) only applies the Geneva Convention to refugees from Europe? The Commission's selective and misleading quotation from the text of the EU Directive suggests that it knows its argument is weak."

UK: Joint Select Committee: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: Report (pdf): "Investigatory Powers: on the right track but significant changes needed. In its report, published today, the Committee supports the intention behind the draft Bill, which is to bring together the numerous provisions in statute governing intrusive powers which already exist into one clear piece of legislation. But the Committee finds that important clarity is lacking in a number of areas." Oral evidence (link) and Written Evidence (link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.16)

Refugee crisis: European Commission "State of Play" reports: 10 February 2016

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."

UK: The European Court of Justice has agreed to expedite the hearing of the Davis-Watson mass surveillance case:

"it is clear that national legislation that permits the retention of all electronic communications data and subsequent access to that data is liable to cause serious interference with the fundamental rights laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter (see judgment in Digital Rights Ireland and Others, C.293/12 and C.594/12, EU:C:2014:238, paragraph 37)....

Accordingly, it is appropriate to order that Case C.698/15 be determined pursuant to the expedited procedure."

See: CJEU Order (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.16)

Where is the EU going?

Turkish PM in Brussels migration talks next week (euobserver, link):

"Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is set to meet leaders from a handful of EU states ahead of an EU summit in Brussels next week... A similar pre-summit meeting was held last December with Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Greece, France, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands at the Austrian permanent representation in Brussels...

Turkey is hoping to get visa restrictions on its nationals lifted in October. The EU wants to start returning people this summer who transited through Turkey to claim asylum in the EU but are not entitled to international protection.... Nato will discuss possible support for patrolling the Aegean, after the idea was raised by Germany and Turkey on Monday.... outstanding political issues remain, with some member states, particularly in the east, reluctant to accept Muslims" and

Turkey, Germany to involve NATO in monitoring Syrian refugee exodus (euractiv, link): "Turkey and Germany plan to seek help from NATO allies in monitoring Syrian refugees trying to get to Europe across the Aegean Sea, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday (8 February)." and:

National reluctance sinks EU's refugee relocation plan (euractiv, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker's flagship plan to stem Europe's migration crisis by redistributing refugees around the bloc risks crumbling, as EU states balk at sharing the burden, according to several diplomats and officials.... some countries are setting unacceptable conditions by refusing Muslims, black people or large families, with Eastern European states the worst for discriminating on religious or racial grounds." [emphasis added]

Council of Europe: Greek Journalist Brutally Attacked during Public Rally (link):

"Greek reporter, Demitrios Perros, working as a freelance journalist for the municipal radio ‘Athens 9,84FM’, was brutally attacked by unknown assailants, on 4 February 2016, while covering a protest rally organised by the public and private sector workers’ confederations, in Athens. According to media reports, the journalist was approached by persons unknown to him on Panepistimiou Street, in the centre of the capital, and asked whether he was a journalist. Following his positive answer, the men started hitting him with wooden planks on the head and the spine while the police stood by without taking any action to intervene. Demitrios Perros was left seriously injured to the head and face and was taken to the Red Cross hospital by colleagues."

and Press release from the European Federation of Journalists (pdf)

UK: Internet monitoring bill 'must do more to protect privacy' (BBC News, link):

"Plans to give firm legal backing to mass data collection and hacking by Britain's spies do not do enough to protect privacy, a watchdog has warned. The extent of the intelligence agencies' computer and internet spying operation has recently become clear.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill is meant to put it on a firm legal footing. But the Intelligence and Security Committee says the bill lacks clarity and is a "missed opportunity"."

See: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: Report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (pdf)  And see: MI5 "Covert Technical Operations Specialists" job ad (link)

Israel got real-time leaks from EU security talks (euobserver, link): "When EU ambassadors met in the Political and Security Committee (PSC) to discuss Middle East policy on 15 January, some of them didn't know there was in effect a 29th delegation in the room - Israel. They were finalising a statement to be endorsed by EU foreign ministers a few days later. But Israeli diplomats appeared to be reading EU draft texts and amendments in real time. Some EU sources said Israeli contacts sent text messages to them with requests to alter wording shortly after each new draft went round."

European Parliament study: Reception of female refugees and asylum seekers in the EU Case study Germany (pdf):

"Upon request by the FEMM Committee, the reception of female asylum seekers in Germany is examined. The research is provided for the delegation of FEMM Members to a refugee camp in Munich/Germany. It presents both the EU and the German legal framework concerning the reception of (female) refugees. Attention has been paid whether gender-sensitive asylum application procedures and reception conditions are provided in practice in Germany."


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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