EU and the Turkish case

Agnieszka S.

Illegal immigration became one of the hottest topics in European countries in the last few months. Some people stopped being sincere, helpful and open-minded as they were at the beginning when flow of the newcomers started. Now we can observe that citizens started to worry about the existence of immigrants in their countries. They feel that this situation, if won’t be resolved soon, might create internal chaos in many countries. This is a big chance for European Union to show its power in resolving international problems – will it succeed?

24961840253_9544029f29_b

EU Council family photo [by Georgina Coupe (Photo: Crown Copyright) by-nc-nd 2.0 at flickr.com

What to do with such a big number of human beings that are unemployed, living in bad conditions in refugee camps getting more angry on their life situation? “Maybe we will send some of them to Turkey?” So now European Union tries to persuade Turkey to take immigrants to their country. But as we all know nothing is for free in our lives. Since 14th April 1987, the date of its Membership application, Turkey has hoped that someday it would became a part of the EU. However, Turkey is not fulfilling Copenhagen Criteria (1993) because they are violating basic human rights like for example freedom of speech, but it seems that due to the fact that European Union needs their help so much they are closing one eye on some things, and after so many years they speak again about Turkeys accession to the Union. On the opposite, here we can recall a quote from the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker from 23 April 2014, words he also recently repeated[1]:

“…under my Presidency…no further enlargement will take place over the next five years. As regards Turkey, the country is clearly far away from EU membership. A government that blocks Twitter is certainly not ready for accession.[2]

On 7th of March 2016, European Union heads of state or government had a meeting with Turkey on which it reaffirmed its commitment to the bilateral Greek-Turkish readmission agreement stating, that Turkey would take immigrants that are not in need of protection by the international organs. EU will cover the costs of returning some of the irregular migrants that travelled from Greek isles back to the Turkish territory. By the end of June 2016 new resolution for visas should be introduced for Turkish citizens that want to travel to EU countries. Union along with Turkey agreed to work on improvement of the humanitarian conditions inside Syria, helping local people to live in the safer environment. The most crucial point for Turkey seems to be opening a new chapter in preparations to accession negotiations.

Lots of hopes and ideas are spreading from Brussels to Ankara. The only thing that everyone seems to know is the fact that we have to do something quickly. We can’t let refugees – people in real need that were running away from hell – to live in inhumane conditions. Is the deal with Turkey a good thing or should we come up with a better plan?

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More information:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/03/07-eu-turkey-meeting-statement/

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-summit/2016/03/07

[1] Vince Chadwick, Jean Claude Juncker: Turkey’s not ready for EU membership [in:] Politico: http://www.politico.eu/article/jean-claude-juncker-turkeys-not-ready-for-eu-membership/

[2] Foreign Policy Objectives of Jean Claude Juncker (April 2014): http://juncker.epp.eu/sites/default/files/attachments/nodes/en_03_fp.pdf

Reklamy

Press Review

Maria Moroniak

Let me invite you for our new press review containing brief summaries of the European news of last two weeks. The topics have been selected subjectively, but I hope everyone would find something interesting among the variety of them. Once you find yourselves interested in the synopsis, I encourage you to reach the sources and read the original article.

press

Great Britain in doubt

Great Britain will be carrying out a referendum, which is going to show if the British want their homeland in or out of the European Union. The country is divided into two opinions, as it’s not difficult to guess, for and against its membership. The negotiations between EU and the Government are being held, but it is believed that the referendum will occur in not so distant future. To find out more read the brief interview with EU Parliament’s committee chair Danuta Hübner, one of the delegates of Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee taking part in the discussion with UK authorities in London on 16 and 17 of November.

Read the full article here

Source: European Parliament News

European Commission goes green

The Commission chose 96 of 1117 applications to be financially supported under the environmental LIFE programme. It covers five main issues: air, environment and health, resource efficiency, waste and water. That effort is going to improve the protection of both: the Earth and the European economy.

Read more here

Source: European Commission

Pets rights valued in the European Union

Not only humans own their liberties. EU law regulations watch over every single citizen’s pupil freedom and their right to travel within EU borders. Official Euro Parliament News Portal prepared a brief video released due to increasing number of abandoned animals looking for a new home, but not necessarily in their previous owner’s country. For more information about these pets or simply about how to get ready for a journey with your beloved small ones Click here.
Source: European Parliament News

Europe-new innovation centre

Statistics show that Sillicon Valley or Asia are no longer the axis of world digital and IT development. Specialists say that there has never been more beneficial time for Europe due to its enterprise, as the famous IT companies invest there more and more. We encourage you to read more here.

Source: Bloomberg

 Refugee policy verification

How is European community going to cope with a huge flow of migrants? What type of solutions is going to undertake and what kind of choices does it have? Can we be learnt by the past? Is it worth a risk and how much does it cost? Find out more about how Europe is going to face the fact of massive migration here.

Source: BBC

Greek bargain

Greece will be given €86bn in total after meeting the conditions of rescue loans offered by the eurozone. This is supposed to repair the situation of Greek banks, which had announced a ‘controlled capital transfer’ in June, leading the country to dire straits. The third part of the loan- €13bn- is about to be unlocked.

Find out more
Source: BBC

Donald Tusk – 11 months in office

Emil Wojtaluk

Since Donald Tusk holds his position as the President of the European Council for over 11 months we are witnessing first opinions as to how he is perceived in Europe. In one of its recent articles with a meaningful title “A task for Tusk”, The Economist discusses what it means for Tusk to hold the position of the so-called “President of the European Union”.

Donald Tusk ( Source: twitter.com/eucopresident)

Donald Tusk ( Source: twitter.com/eucopresident)

Paradise…

In the first paragraph, Donald Tusk admitted that becoming the President of the European Council was like “reaching paradise”. The authors ironically stated that it’s indeed true, since he more likely had a chance to visit local museums than negotiating with European leaders. The article focuses on extremely important task for Mr Tusk, such as management of EU response to crises. Although he already found some ways to cope with current situation, even having limited powers. The authors underline that even Mr Tusk had run his country for 7 years he did not manage to introduce it to the common currency, which seems to be one of the EU’s priority projects. Tusk’s experience, even if he was the first Prime Minister in the democratic history of Poland to be reelected does not present such a great value. Since it’s rather young democracy (in author’s opinion) it does not present such “consensual methods” as are preferred in Brussels. Additionally, the article points out language barrier, since Mr Tusk still did not manage to speak French (which is “behind the scenes” language in Brussels), even if his English improved.

One of the Tusk’s priorities is to protect Europe against the rise of populism and right-wing populists; in his opinion liberal centre must be strengthened.

In response to current migratory crisis, he present strong position as to regaining control over EU’s external borders. The “open doors” policy has to come to an end in his opinion. In order to preserve Europe’s openness there has to be more security instruments.

What about the UK?

Probably the most important task during Mr Tusk’s term of office, is to ensure that the Great Britain stays in the EU. It is soon expected, that PM Cameron will send a letter to Donald Tusk, presenting a draft renegotiation of UK’s membership in the EU. The authors emphasize that it will be a task for Donald Tusk to seek compromise in this case, together with other 27 EU member states. One of the most critical points is that Mr Cameron opts for reducing social benefits to immigrants and he generally don’t agree on the direction EU is going right now. Donald Tusk’s strongest fear is that if UK’s withdrawal from the Union is possible, it could serve as the example for others, and as a result lead to “the end of the EU”.

Another paragraph describes the limits imposed on President Tusk. One of his first statements when he took his office, was strong position on Russia, concerning events in Ukraine. The time has showed that his position did not change, but he can do little to resolve the crisis.

To conclude, Donald Tusk accepts German leadership, with some reservations that “not everything that is good for Germany is good for Europe”. He is not oriented to build some kind of new structures, but rather to keep the EU project from failure. The decisions to oppose to Vladimir Putin’s actions to divide Europe seems to be a good sign for the future.

Apart from the article, I would add that EU migration policy (the legal provisions) seems to be ineffective in the crisis time. Each third country national should claim for asylum in the first EU country he/she visit, while they are using EU member states’ territory to rest and go to Germany, which is their final destination. Finding solution on how to regain control rest inter alia in he hands of Donald Tusk and his leadership skills.

We’re curious what is your opinion on President Tusk, do you think he has a chance to be reelected for a second term as the President of the European Council? Have your say in the comments below!

Read the full article “A task for Tusk” here

Fighting a losing battle or taking a long view? – The Migration issue and what we can do

Theresa Miniarti Fehlner

Kenya, Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq… just to mention some of the countries from which most of the refugees currently come. They flee due to political and religious persecution, civil war and poverty. The need for help is obvious as the facts show.

 

Photo: U.S. Navy photo, flickr, CC-by-2.0 https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

Photo: U.S. Navy photo, flickr, CC-by-2.0
https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

Facts and Figures

According to the United Nations the number of refugees has risen up to 60 million since World War II – 86% are from developing countries and more than 50% are children. UNHCR distinguishes between refugees, applicants for asylum and internally displaced persons. In 2014, about 625.000 asylum seekers tried to come to Europe and they often do not have any other possibility than to use the questionable help of human smugglers who profit from the misery of other people. As a result, dramatic scenes took place at the external borders of the EU. The Geneva Convention on Refugees from 1951 binds the EU member states, according to article 2 and 35, on the protection of refugees. In practice, the current situation is different as some dramatic events since 2013 have shown: On the 3rd October 2013, one of the first disasters, involving migrants being smuggled to Europe, took place south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. 400 refugees from Somalia and Eritrea drowned. In April 2015, up to 800 refugees lost their lives in a ship accident in the Mediterranean Sea. Since then, the EU has tripled the remedies for sea rescue. In May 2015, the EU foreign ministers resolved on a common military mission against the gangs of people smugglers, with a fund of 12 million Euros from the EU countries. On the 26th June the EU heads of state and government decided to assign the growing number of refugees to all 28 member states – on a voluntary basis.

Our obligation to humanity

The demand for answers seems to be obvious. Nevertheless, this article cannot deal with the whole range of the migration issue. But it can focus on some questions which arise when we look at it from different perspectives. The migration question is by no means solved as the daily news, the media coverage and the pictures of suffering humans going around the world show. It seems to be an impasse which raises the question of whether it might be the problem of a dead-end policy. What remains is a large uncertainty and the feeling of fighting a losing battle.

This article does also not mainly deal with the question if Europe has to help the people in danger and in need – that is beyond all discussion – of course we have to help. So, several countries assume responsibility and try to help by receiving refugees, hosting them or helping them to integrate themselves. And all of this accompanied by prejudices against foreigners, administrative barriers and integration problems due to cultural diversity. In each instance, all those who are helping – a lot of who are volunteers – do humanitarian work and it is indispensable. But it is also quite evident that somehow it is just treating symptoms like bridging the time until most of them get deported again. Thus a lot of voluntary commitment and funding is needed. But it is not only a question of money, medical care, accommodation or dealing with cultural diversity. It is, above all, the question of how to accompany the short-term help with a long-term help.

Empathizing means to sneak a peek beyond the European borders

Photo: European Commission

Photo: European Commission

Against this background, focussing on some questions might be justified. Shifting the attention to the countries from which the refugees come, means to empathize with them. Migration movements from Syria, for example, might be different motivated than those from Serbia or Kosovo. Let´s take, as another example, the continent Africa. It seems to be reasonable to pose the question how Europe treated those African countries. After a long colonial history, European states started a program of development aid to support those countries. “Money” seemed to be the keyword, but let´s risk to ask how long that kind of support continued and how effective it was. In consideration of the status quo of the African countries, the question arises who the money received and in what way the states have used it. Did it change the situation for those countries? Obviously not, as the growing number of emigrants from even stable African countries shows. Financial help is reasonable as long as the supported country has the preconditions to use it in the right way. What kind of preconditions are we talking about? Are they states with a democratic system? How do they deal with corruption? Is there a knowledge of the importance of education and self-responsibility? Furthermore, does their way of understanding politics comply with our European policy?

Taking a look at some Arab countries raises the question: Are the political and cultural systems of countries like Libya, Syria or Iraq compatible with the Western way of political and cultural thinking and could it, at all, be possible to solve their conflicts and problems with our European understanding of governance?

Another example: The Kosovo War from 1998/1999, subsequently claimed thousands of victims. What has changed after the NATO military intervention? There is still discrimination of minorities, a shortage of jobs and poverty in consequence and a high incidence of crime. There was no stable polity until 2014, but even then, a lot of Kosovars claimed asylum especially in Germany and some other European countries.

It seems to be a long shot to write a master plan to find a solution which meets the responsibility we all have, to give a hand to people who ask for help as well as to support the development of their countries. Therefore we have to ask: What does it make worth, for those refugees who flee from economic grievances, to come to Europe? Which kind of incentives do we offer? If we provide a welfare system which is more attractive than the system in their home country, how do we help those states to develop?

Misinterpreted development aid: A Western failure?

Photo: dpa

Photo: dpa

The pros and cons, the discussions concerning the question if and how each European country can take part in helping people knocking on Europe´s door are numerous and more or less helpful. But looking at it from another perspective extends the short-term help a little bit more towards a long-term help. Terminating all the wars on one day might be a dream; alleviate the world hunger, guarantee religious freedom and physical integrity for everyone probably as well, but the dream ends before it starts when the countries in need are empty. On the “Meeting of Pan-African Catholic Youth and Children” in Kinshasa last month, Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola said in his opening speech: “Use your talents and other resources to renew and transform our continent and for the promotion of lasting justice, peace, and reconciliation in Africa. […] You are a treasure for Africa.” [1] This quote expresses what we, from our European point of view, maybe sometimes fail to see: In what way do we help the countries if we integrate each immigrant into our social security system? If we integrate one qualified man or woman successful into a European country, it means conversely that one qualified man or woman is missing in his or her home country. As a result, we deprive these countries the main source of life and thus the possibility to prosper.

Without a doubt: Each one is ethically and humanly obligated to give a helping hand to those who are persecuted, hungry or in danger – even more a community of states, based on a Christian fundament. That is certainly the main issue. But then it might be worth to pay attention to a long-term help which recognizes the differences between individual political systems and cultural backgrounds. And, to the same extent, raising awareness of their own responsibility towards their home countries. Then this dream of a better world where there is no need to flee because of war, persecution or hunger could come true – even though not in one day.

References:

[1]

http://www.fides.org/en/news/38338- AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Bishops_appeal_to_young_Africans_Stay_in_Africa_to_build_a_better_continent

https://www.lpb-bw.de/fluechtlingsproblematik.html

http://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/DE/Bundesregierung/BeauftragtefuerIntegration/beauftragte-fuer-integration.html

[Last access: 26.08.2015]

10 years of FRONTEX in the Schengen area

Kamil Augustyniak

Emil Wojtaluk

It’s been 10 years since the FRONTEX agency has been set up with its premises in Warsaw, Poland. At this occasion on 22 April 2015, Department of European Union Law of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin together with the Rule of Law Institute Foundation organized a training seminar as a part of the project “Support for Voluntary Returns in Lublin Region II” in the form of conference entitled “10 years of FRONTEX in the Schengen area”. It was a great occasion to summarize the activities of this EU agency to this date, and analyze the achievements in the sphere of external border management. The conference was also linked with the presentation of the book “FRONTEX agency in the Schengen area. 10 years of experience”.

frontex_horizontal_logo

Source: fra.europa.eu

The way towards creating FRONTEX seems to be quite short but in fact there were many crucial factors from the history of European integration which led to creation of this significant EU agency. It all started in 1985 when five member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) decided to create among them border-free area. Since the agreement was established outside of the European Community structures, the official Schengen Area for the EU was created on 26 March, 1995. From that time the number of members grew up to 26 European countries and the principle is currently recognized as European Union law. Increasing significance of Schengen Area forced authorities to creation of body responsible for its management and security. This is why, pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004, FRONTEX was created. Its main tasks are connected with maintaining EU external borders security, including from illegal immigration, human trafficking and terrorist activity.

©Daniel Cetlicer/ the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

©Daniel Cetlicer/ the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

During conference few interesting issues were explained. First of all, the statement that the agency cannot handle the current situation in Europe where hundreds of illegal immigrants are transported to Europe is not true. The agency rely only on member states’ equipment – it has no its own vehicles to control the borders. Since not every country is willing to take care about external border of the EU (because it has no such), instruments needed to careful control these broad areas are limited. Therefore the accusation of not fulfilling obligations is simply not fair, especially after recent results of FRONTEX activities that are better than ever. Second issue taken into consideration was related to not obeying the law by the agency and not respecting human rights. It should be said that, truly, the ability to balance legal and humanitarian perspective is a challenge but always the goodness of people is a priority. In media there are numerous information about how many people died during illicit transfer to Europe and alleged failure of rescue teams but nobody mentions that FRONTEX saved more than 30 thousand lives last year. Every single illegal immigrant is treated equally with respect of all rights. The next very important issue linked with taking care of illegal immigrants mentioned at the conference was non-refoulement principle which provides a prohibition of expulsion of any person if in country of its origin will be exposed to serious infringement of fundamental human rights, e.g. tortures. This international principle is not just a theory – every EU member state is obliged to follow it in practice.

Piotr Malinowski, Service Development Team Coordinator (Frontex Situation Centre) ©Daniel Cetlicer

Piotr Malinowski, Service Development Team Coordinator (Frontex Situation Centre) ©Daniel Cetlicer

Another worth mentioning issue was that FRONTEX does not have its own “risk management system”. It uses for example what was created by the SIS (Schengen Information System). The agency coordinates activities of EU member states in securing their borders. Risk management is composed of: defined objective – optimization of functioning of the external borders of the EU, trainings of border officers, preparing reports, means of communication (community based on intelligence and the exchange of information). All of that combined is called “Smart Border Management”.

From the point of terminology, there is an existing dispute whether we have irregular or maybe illegal migrants. There is a growing tendency to use irregular migrant term more often, and this is how we should call a person who crossed the border illegally. Let’s think, how any human being can be illegal?

©Daniel Cetlicer/the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

©Daniel Cetlicer/the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

Thirty years of Schengen Agreement, twenty years of Schengen Area and ten years of existence of FRONTEX was a perfect opportunity to prepare a sum-up conference that showed how unification, following common principles and helping refugees changed Europe. Although there are issues which need increased engagement and better coordination of all EU member states, the idea of open and fair European Union succeeded.

ECJ about ‘benefit tourism’. Historical ruling?

Katarzyna Stachyra

One of the latest judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), released on November 11, 2014 (Case C 333/13), may be considered by states such as the United Kingdom and Germany as an pre-Christmas gift. ECJ clearly stated that Member States have right to refuse granting social benefits to economically inactive Union citizens.

Relevant facts

 

10811652_1553477634886836_918260679_nFlorin Dano, born in 2009 in Germany and his mother, Elisabeta Dano, are Romanian nationals. They are living in Germany with Elisabeta Dano’s sister in her house. Ms Dano obtained in 2011 a residence certificate of unlimited duration from  the city of Leipzig, which also pays her child benefit. Since the  father of  F. Dano is unknown, his mother receives an advance on maintenance payments. The total sum of benefits is 317 Euro per month. Ms Dano is unemployed and has practically no education, her command of German is poor and – as ECJ stated – ‘there is nothing to indicate that she has looked for a job’. However, she made an application for the additional grant of benefits by way of basic provision. Her submission was refused twice by Job center Leipzig. The Social Court in Leipzig firstly wanted to take the same decision, but after analyzing this case decided to ask ECJ for preliminary ruling. The most important issue to resolve was concerning the general principle of non-discrimination on the one hand, and Member State’s right to prevent an unreasonable recourse to non-contributory social security benefits on the other.

Equal treatment not for everybody?

The Court of Justice of the European Union, namely the Grand Chamber, emphasized that under provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC there are conditions which need to be fulfilled in order to claim equal treatment with nationals of the host Member State. This condition is, inter alia, the requirement that the economically inactive Union citizen must have sufficient resources for himself and his family members. ECJ said that granting social benefits to person who is not complied with these requirements would be in opposition with the objective of the directive, which is to prevent EU citizens, who are nationals of other Member States, from becoming an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State. As a result, ECJ stated that Member States are entitled to ‘refusing to grant social benefits to economically inactive Union citizens who exercise their right to freedom of movement solely in order to obtain another Member State’s social assistance although they do not have sufficient resources to claim a right of residence’. Therefore in Ms Dano’s case ECJ found that she has no right to obtain additional social benefits.

Joy and concern

10822374_1553477631553503_528118073_nThis preliminary ruling was welcomed enthusiastically, especially by commentators from the UK. After controversial James Cameron’s statement about abuse of the UK’ social system and threat of leaving the EU it is not surprising. Regardless of the assessment of this, it is worth noting that disagreement to ‘benefit tourism’ is commendable. The principle of non-discrimination is a significant achievement of the European integration, however, as it is observed, applying this rule without any conditions leads to abuses. It is interesting how this judgment will influence our European reality. One can hope it will help to reduce the existing tensions between Member States in issues regarding social system matters and free movement of people. Whereas there may arise anxiety about the next steps – whether will they move away – and how far – from principles which are currently accepted in the EU.

Dublin II Regulation, readmission and human rights protection – M.S.S. vs Belgium and Greece

Katarzyna Sosnowska

January 2011 European Court of Human Rights form a judgment in the case which is known as M.S.S. vs Belgium and Greece. The applicant was from Afghanistan and had worked for the international forces. He was detained in Greece for a week (also his fingerprints were taken) and after being released he travelled to Belgium where he wanted to seek for asylum. Belgian authorities noticed that he had been already registered in Greece. Under Article 3 of Dublin II Regulation “Member States shall examine the application of any third-country national who applies at the border or in their territory to any one of them for asylum. The application shall be examined by a single Member State(…)”[1]. According to this rule, on 15 June 2009 the applicant was transferred back to Greece. Here, as was mentioned in the judgment he “had immediately been placed in detention in a building next to the airport, where he was locked up in a small space with 20 other detainees, had access to the toilets only at the discretion of the guards, was not allowed out into the open air, was given very little to eat and had to sleep on a dirty mattress or on the bare floor[2]. After, he was not even informed that the accommodation for him had been found. M.S.S. made a few attempts to leave Greece again and at the end Greek authorities tried to deport him to Turkey.

According to the Court ruling, both Greece and Belgium breached provisions of the Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. What is relevant, Court stated that there were a significant deficiencies in the Greek authorities’ examination of the M.S.S.’s asylum request.  The risk he faces of being returned (directly or indirectly) to his country of origin without any serious examination of his asylum application and without having access to an effective remedy[3]. The Belgian Government criticised the applicant for not having correctly used the procedure for applying for a stay. That was also undertaken by the Court which pointed out that the cases of applying for asylum or refugee status should be examined individually, with due diligence, case-by-case. Belgium has failed to do that and by that action exposed the applicant on the harmful conditions, knowing that Greece was not fulfilling its obligations under the Geneva Convention.

The M.S.S. case shows that the situation should be examined carefully. It also confirms the constant need to monitor the situation in Member States as well as third countries. As it is expressed in Dublin II Regulation primary responsibility to provide protection remains with the state where the claim is lodged. It does not absolve the other countries involved in the cases from action even if it is not its responsibility under the criteria laid down in the Regulation. The “principle of mutual trust”[4] can no longer be perceived for granted. To make a sufficient basis for internal transfer between EU Member States the implementation of elementary standards of refugees protection should be examined and verified carefully.


[1] Art.3 of Council Regulation No 343/2003 (EC), OJ L 50/1, 25.2.2003.

[2] ECtHR (GC), M.S.S. vs. Belgium and Greece, no. 30696/09, 21 January 2011, para. 34., available at: hudoc.echr.coe.int

[3] Ibidem, para. 321.

[4]  V. Moreno Lax, Dismantling the Dublin System: M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, available at: http://www.ssrn.com, accessed: April 26, 2013.