Migration

Over its two-year implementation ReSOMA will focus on three areas: asylum, migration and integration. At the beginning of each year, partners will identify 3 key policy topics per area based on the on-going debate at EU level and within Member States.

The identification follows a two-fold approach as it looks both at the current EU agenda (top-down) and the policy needs at local and national level that are not currently addressed at EU level (bottom-up).

Once the 9 topics have been identified, project partners will gather evidence on these topics by involving researchers, policymakers, and practitioners and engage them in several cycles of consultations that will enable them to connect with one another and will result in a number of publications.

Topics

Asylum-seekers and irregular migrants are facing increased detention across the European Union. It has been used to enforce return decisions, carry out Dublin transfers or as part of reception procedures for individual seeking international protection. It is therefore envisaged for several categories of individuals with diverse background, status and conditions of vulnerability.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), signed in December 2018, is now to be implemented both internally within the majority of the EU Member States and externally with EU’s Global partners. Due to internal political controversies and disinformation campaigns of what the Global Compact actually entails, twelve states abstained and five voted against adopting the Global Compact on Migration. Those include some of the EU and Schengen countries as well as Australia, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Israel, and the US. Moreover, several EU policies enacted in a ‘crisis mode’ stands at odds with the objectives of the GCM, from minimizing the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their countries to providing access to basic services to migrants, eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting evidence-based public discourse on migration.

European Union (EU) and national policies are increasingly affecting civil society organisations and individuals who provide humanitarian assistance and access to rights to refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. The Facilitation Directive and its Framework Decision represent the main legislative instrument at the EU level to tackle migrant smuggling and criminalise the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence of migrants in the European Union In addition, in the context of the so-called “European refugee humanitarian crisis” at the EU level political and operational priority has been given to combating migrant smuggling. This has led to criminal charges, legal restrictions and administrative penalties against civil society actors. In some countries, suspicion has led to a shift in attitudes of the public and media towards civil society actors and individuals in the Member States. ReSOMA explores what kind of developments are happening across different EU Member States and what are their impacts on the activities of civil society organisations and broader societal issues such as the rule of law, democracy, freedom of assembly and association.

European Union (EU) and national policies are increasingly affecting civil society organisations and individuals who provide humanitarian assistance and access to rights to undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. The Facilitation Directive and its Framework Decision represent the main legislative instruments to tackle migrant smuggling and criminalise the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence of migrants in the European Union. Moreover, new criminalisation trends emerged in the context of the so-called “European refugee humanitarian crisis” aiming to punish the facilitation of entry and residence of irregular immigrants in the Member States. EU and national policies hinder the movement and operations of NGOs providing humanitarian assistance by means of legal restrictions and administrative penalties. Furthermore, a controversial shift in attitudes of the public and media is directly, or indirectly, undermining the work and the freedom of civil society actors and individuals in the Member States. EU and national political developments are leading to restrictions and obstructions to the activities of civil society organisations and a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy, freedom of assembly and association and the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

The need to respond quickly and effectively to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ has led in the last few years to the establishment of a set of “hybrid” financial instruments that combines EU and member states’ contributions. Since 2014, four EU Trust Funds for external action (EUTFs) have been established. Specifically, the Madad Fund in response to the Syrian crisis (established in 2014) and the EUTF for Africa (established in 2015) were presented by EU institutions as key instruments to address the perceived “refugee crisis’. In addition, the Facility for Refugee in Turkey (FRT) has been established in 2015 to provide financial assistance to the Turkish government in dealing with the high number of the Syrian refugee residing in the country.

The establishment of the above-mentioned financial instruments has been accompanied by the launch of new platforms of cooperation with relevant partner countries, such as the EU-Turkey statement concluded in March 2016 and the new “partnership framework” with targeted countries in Africa and the Middle East. This set of initiatives launched by the EU and the Member States to enhance cooperation on migration issues with third countries has given new impetus to the debate on the use of migration-related conditionality in EU external funding. The conditionality approach implies that partnerships and transfers of EU development funds to third countries will be linked to cooperation on migration matters between partner countries and the EU.

Return of migrants staying irregularly in the EU has gained center stage on the EU agenda since 2015. In September 2015, the Commission presented a Communication on an EU Action Plan on return that defined a set of immediate and mid-term measures to be taken in order to enhance the effectiveness of the EU return system. The 'Return Handbook', adopted together with the EU Action Plan, provided a set of guidelines, best practices and recommendations to the member states for returning irregular migrants. In 2017, however, in light of the unsatisfactory results achieved during the previous two years, the Commission decided to issue a renewed Action Plan on return as well as revised version of the Return Handbook.

Significant new competences in the field of return have also been granted to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG) launched in 2016. The EBCG has been granted the power to conduct joint return operations and be involved in national return procedures, including cooperation with third countries. A goal of this new task is to ensure more ‘effective’ expulsion procedures in the EU, so that the number of return decisions of irregular immigrants better matches the enforced expulsion orders.

In parallel, cooperation with third countries has been intensified by means of a number of informal cooperation formats, such as Standard Operating Procedures and Joint Ways Forward on migration issues. According to the European Commission, enhancing cooperation by key third countries of origin requires the collective mobilization of all the incentives and leverages available at the EU level, including coordinated visa measures.

Expert Interviews

Sergio Carrera - Senior Research Fellow and Head of Justice and Home Affairs Programme at CEPS

Monthly Expert Interview: The contribution of  the ReSOMA Project.

 

Adrew Geddes - Director of the Migration Policy Centre - Chair in Migration Studies - European University Institute

Monthly Expert Interview: Migration related conditionally in Eu- external funding.

 

Morgane Nicot - Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Expert at UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Monthly Expert Interview: The Protocol against the smuggling of migrants.

 

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