13 April 2016
The European Commission urges member states to accelerate the process of resettling those refugees who arrive at Greece’s shores. Until now, the situation has not advanced in terms of relocation but the process of resettlement since mid-March has in fact progressed, thanks to the agreement between the EU and Turkey. Nevertheless, since September 2015 when the European Council approved the resettlement of 160,000 refugees in Italy and Greece to other EU member states, little has been accomplished. It is a critical situation that the European Commission fears will become a humanitarian disaster.
18 March 2016
The EU and Turkey have reached a deal to stem the flow of refugees coming to Europe. According to the agreement, Turkey will begin taking back refugees who cross illegally into Greece from 20 March onwards, with the return of many migrants to their place of origin commencing 4 April. In return, the EU will open chapter 33 on budget policy and accelerate negotiations in terms of Turkey’s long-stalled bid to gain EU membership. Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu described the agreement as “balanced” and served as evidence that the EU and Turkey shared a common objective. The EU has pledged €3 billion to the effort and, according to Davutoğlu, would be spent on Syrian refugees living in Turkey with an additional €3 billion to be allocated to Turkey by the end of 2018 to improve Syrian refugees’ living conditions.
8 March 2016
The EU will deport to Turkey all refugees and economic immigrants who arrive at the Greek coasts. The heads of state and government of the EU and the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, met yesterday, 7 March, and arrived to an agreement which will return all those migrants to Turkey who disembark in Greece. The measure has not taken long to stir up criticism and organizations like UNHCR have already questioned its legality. Amnesty International called it “inhumane”. The Geneva Conventions and international law establishesd that when someone arrives to a territory, they have the right to request asylum without being expelled or deported, until said country studies and decides each case. In fact, during the last months, even Juncker, who has now defended the measure, earlier announced that he was against this very option.
3 March 2016
European Council president Donald Tusk tells migrants to stay away from Europe’s borders. “I want to appeal to all illegal economic migrants wherever you are from: Do not come to Europe. Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing,” said Tusk speaking in Greece alongside Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Nearly 30,000 refugees remain stranded in Greece after a string of border closings throughout the “Balkan corridor” have created a human traffic jam of migrants trying to reach wealthier central and northern European countries. This comes after Macedonian police unleashed tear gas on a group of migrants who attempted to cross its border with Greece. On Monday, EU leaders will meet in Brussels and Tsipras hopes that the “burden-sharing will be equitable among all countries in the bloc” and include sanctions for those countries who choose not to cooperate.
26 February 2016
The High Commissioner for UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, urges countries to not close their borders. In his meeting with the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, in Athens on 25 February, Grandi alerted that the recent closing of borders in the Balkans could create an “enormous and potentially critical human traffic jam in Greece.” Additionally, Grandi criticized the inability of European countries to confront the refugee crisis with generosity and unity.
25 February 2016
Hungary will hold a referendum concerning the plan to relocate refugees proposed by the EU. The date has not been determined but the question has been. The Hungarian citizen will have to respond to the following: Do you agree that the EU should have the power to impose the obligatory relocation of non-Hungarian citizens without the consent of the Hungarian National Parliament? The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, made it clear that the Executive hopes the answer to this question will be ‘no’: “He or she who votes no will be voting for Hungarian independence.”
22 February 2016
Macedonia closes its doors to Afghan refugees . The Macedonian government confirms having made the decision after Serbia announced that it would do the same and block Afghans from entering Serbian territory. Many fear that Afghans would be “stuck” in Macedonia en route to northern Europe. Serbia justified the decision blaming Austria and Slovenia for having taken similar actions. A domino effect combining with the incessant influx of refugees could provoke a human traffic jam which would only grow bigger. According to police sources, some 1,000 people have been stalled at the border and another 4,000 are waiting on buses nearby.
8 February 2016
Germany and Turkey reinforce their agreement to confront the refugee crisis. German chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu to consolidate joint forces in order to reduce the influx of immigrants to Europe. The pact focuses on requesting help from NATO in order to patrol the Turkish coasts and the Aegean Sea as well as taking measures against human traffickers. There is no end in sight for the Syrian conflict and each day it is causing more and more immigrants to flee to European territory. The aerial attacks carried out by the Russian army in the city of Aleppo to help those troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad gain territory has done little more than augment the flee of refugees. “Aleppo finds itself in a state of siege. We are at the threshold of a new human tragedy,” alerted Davutoglu.
6 January 2016
Amid growing concerns over reinstated border checks, ministers from Denmark, Sweden and Germany attend a round of talks with the European Commission in Brussels. The meeting comes after Sweden introduced ID checks on its border with Denmark, following a similar move by the Danish government which reinstated border controls with Germany to help curb the influx of migrants. Sweden has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU state and is looking at ways to curb the influx, as other member states are quarreling over refugee transfers and redistribution schemes. Earlier on Tuesday, 5 January, The European Commission announced that only 272 Syrians and Eritreans, just 0.17% of asylum seekers, have been transferred from Greece and Italy to other European countries.
Identities, migrations and Europe- a sometimes explosive relationship
Featured article by Viktor Sukup, 1 January 2016
Who are the real “Europeans” today? The bureaucrats, officials and parliamentarians of the European institutions, in their somewhat isolated “Brussels bubble”? A few distinguished philosophers and other intellectuals who firmly reject nationalism? Or the “bobos” (bourgeois-bohémiens), rather highly educated middle-class big city inhabitants, who might feel culturally more similar to their counterparts in equivalent cities across the continent than to their compatriots in seemingly remote provinces of their own countries? Migratory movements have certainly influenced, for several decades, mentalities and national identities, and European integration has, at least for some time, contributed to bringing governments, countries and even peoples closer…
11 December 2015
The EU proposes reinforcing Frontex, the European border agency, and deploying 2,000 EU police to be sent to European borders in order to face the immigration crisis. In addition to doubling Frontex personnel, the project proposes the creation of an EU corps composed of 2,000 border guards who can act without prior consent from member states. These guards would be national police that must be prepared to mobilise in little time when tension arises at the EU border. It would bring into question whether national governments are willing to relinquish sovereignty to Brussels. If the various EU member states broadly support reinforcing Frontex, they could be reluctant to support a policy that implies the transfer of competencies to Brussels. The proposal is the result of pressure from Germany and France after the Paris attacks to slow down the entry of immigrants and refugees, among whom two terrorists responsible for said attacks filtered through European borders.
29 November 2015
The EU and Turkey reached an agreement concerning migration in which the European Union will provide €3 billion and closer links to Ankara in exchange for help limit the flow of immigrants and refugees to Europe. For the bloc’s leaders, the agreement is a key step in substantially reducing the number of asylum seekers. The Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, assured that the pact marked a “new beginning” for the historically strained relations between Brussels and Ankara. In addition to the €3 billion that the EU will “initially” offer, Turkish citizens will be able to travel without a visa to the Schengen Area starting October 2016. “This is not money in exchange for refugees, that would be immoral; it is an attempt to improve the conditions for Syrian refugees,” said European Council president Donald Tusk. Additionally, the EU will carry out monthly checks to ensure that Turkey is upholding its part of the deal.
Paris, the refugees and Europe
Highlights article by Roberto Savio, 20 November 2015
The focus on terrorism is obscuring the issues of refugees, and it is important to consider its impact on Europe, after the shock of Paris. Of course, the impact of terrorism in the daily life of ordinary citizens is going to increase the culture of checks and control in place since September 11, 2001. Since the New York massacre, the 10,000 planes that take off daily carry citizens who go through vexing security check, and cannot bring liquid on boards, etc. Bin Laden has changed totally our way of traveling. It is no small achievement, and Paris…
This is how Europe wants to integrate Muslim immigrants
Opinion article from EsGlobal, by Gonzalo Toca, 20 November 2015
There are two conflicting views in the heart of Europe on the integration of foreigners and both of them affect Muslim immigrants in very different ways. The new policies will depend on which one of these prevails in the end. Immigration law is not born in a vacuum nor is it built on a road paved with good or bad intentions. That is up to the pundits. Actually, its configuration is concerned essentially with the answer we give to the following questions: Should legal treatment for immigrants be the same as for nationals? Can they be required…
11 November 2015
The EU decided to offer economic support to Africa in exchange for help to control migratory flows from their countries of origin. The proposal, pushed forward by the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, involves grants of €3.6 bn. €1.8 bn will come from EC funds, while the other half will come from member states contributions. Juncker urged members to be generous, although he is not sure that they will be able to reach the proposed figure. The objective of this incentive is to encourage African countries to take migrants back, although the majority are opposed to losing billions of dollars in remittances those working abroad send back to family members. The funds will be directed towards alleviating the principal causes of migration, such as poverty and armed conflict.
Mitteleuropa, Land of Migration
Highlights article by Viktor Sukup, 7 October 2015
The Roman Empire stretched as far as the Danube and the Rhine, where the name of Cologne itself still recalls the ancient Romans. But it was precisely the “northern barbarians” that put an end to it. And central Europe, the Mitteleuropa of the upper Danube, experienced the many migrations that completely changed the face of Europe. From the East came the invasions of Slav peoples and the fearsome Huns, ancestors of the Hungarians who alone in Europe, along with the Finns, the Estonians and the Basques, a language that does not belong to the Indo-European family. Also appearing in the…
A five-point plan for dealing with the refugee crisis: there are no small solutions to big problems
Highlights article by Dirk Messner, 10 September 2015
Europe and Germany cannot be an island of contentment, because cross-border crises do not simply disappear by building walls, looking away and failing to act. This is the lesson to be learned from 2015: crises on the financial markets and in Greece, Ebola, Charlie Hebdo and Islamic terror at the heart of Europe, global data espionage penetrating as far as the German Federal Chancellery, the suffering and misery of the refugees. Cross-border crises call for a consistently higher level of international and global co-operation. This is something we need to adapt to: with solution strategies, investments, personnel…
How to address Europe’s refugee crisis
Highlights article by António Guterres, 6 September 2015
The European Union is preparing key emergency meetings to take decisions in its response to the present refugee and migration crisis. The situation requires a massive common effort that is not possible with the current fragmented approach. Europe is facing its biggest refugee influx in decades. More than 300,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far this year. Over 2,600 didn’t survive the dangerous crossing, including three-year-old Aylan, whose photo has just stirred the hearts of the world public. After arriving on Europe’s shores and borders, they continue their journey – facing…