Tuesday

15th Jun 2021

News in Brief

  1. Swiss voters reject climate change measures
  2. Spain: Thousands protest against Catalan leaders' pardon
  3. Belarus opposition leader says 'harsh' sanctions needed
  4. Far-right ex-settler becomes Israeli prime minister
  5. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  6. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  7. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  8. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'

EU rejects UN blame for migrant sea deaths

Last week, the UN high commissioner for human rights said the EU and its member states are partly responsible for making the central Mediterranean more dangerous for asylum-seeker hopefuls. The EU rejects that - despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

EU defends Spain, after thousands enter Ceuta enclave

Spain has warned of a "serious crisis" for Europe after some 6,000 people entered Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco. The European Commission has voiced its support for Spain as diplomatic tensions with Rabat heat up.

Greece shouldn't have to integrate refugees, minister says

Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi says Athens should not be required to integrate refugees, because it is provides other services such as border protection. Instead, he says they should be free to move to other EU states.

Opinion

Union for Mediterranean scorecard? - 'must do better'

Progress at the Union for the Mediterranean has been slow and remains below its potential. The EU is still responsible for over 95 percent of the region's internal merchandise exports and 93 percent of the external merchandise exports.

Ireland agrees to relocate 10 migrants from Italy

Last week, over 2,000 people arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Efforts to relocate some of them to other member states is proving tricky. Meanwhile, another 400 have been stuck on a boat for the past two days.

EU sends mixed message on Turkey as 'safe' haven

Greece has declared Turkey a safe country for asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria and Somalia. But the European Commission appears to have shed doubt on the claim, saying individual cases still need to be assessed.

Frontex 'own worst enemy', says EU auditor

A special audit on how Frontex supports member states in cracking down on "illegal migration and cross-border crimes" has painted a bleak picture of an EU agency, whose annual budget rocketed from €19m in 2006 to €900m in 2021.

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us
Best to keep Frontex in Greece, new rights officer suggests

Greece has drawn criticism and scrutiny for alleged widespread pushbacks of migrants in the Aegean Sea, along with the reported complicity of the EU's border agency Frontex. Critics say the agency should pull out of Greece.

Internal paper lays out EU splits on 'returning' migrants

An internal document from January outlines the divisions among EU states when it comes the European Commission's proposal on "return sponsorships". Although positions may have since shifted, the document provides a glimpse into the Council's thinking.

Feature

Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands

Lawyers in Greece accuse Frontex of incorrectly labeling minors as 'adults', a violation. Among them was 17-year old William, sent to the adult section of Moria, where he says he was abused. He was later able to prove his age.

Greek prisons accused of abusing detainees

Prison conditions deteriorated last year, due to budget cuts and the pandemic, amid accusations of severe abuse in some EU states, says Council of Europe's anti-torture committee.

Greece closes humane camp for refugees, sends them to Moria

A model camp for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos is being shut down by the Greek authorities as residents are being taken to 'Moria 2.0', a lead-contaminated sprawling ghetto perched on the edge of the island.

EU commission calls Frontex its new 'Return Agency'

The EU's law enforcement agency Frontex has been helping member states return unwanted migrants. The European Commission now wants it to take a lead role, while hoping to boost the number of voluntary deportations.

Analysis

Why Frontex won't leave Greece, like it left Hungary

After five years and a European Court ruling against Hungary, Frontex finally decided to leave the country, given Budapest's rights violations. Such alleged violations are also taking place in Greece - but the prospect of Frontex leaving is low.

Frontex guilty of inflating legal fees against activists

A lawyer for Frontex billed too many hours in a case against transparency activists, the General Court of the European Union ruled. The agency had demanded a €23,700 legal bill from the activists - now reduced by over half.

Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns

Denmark is stripping Syrians of residency rights - the first country in the EU to do so - amid threats to deport them back home. The EU did not comment directly, but warned that Syria is not safe.

Analysis

Frontex is its own worst enemy

The Warsaw-based agency held out 105 days, refusing freedom of information requests, before it finally revealed a partial breakdown of costs linked to its annual European Border and Coast Guard Day. Such delays, on spending, tend to arouse suspicions.

Frontex redacts its hospitality spending figures

The EU's border agency Frontex has blacked-out entire documents on how it spends EU taxpayer money on itself, including gala dinners and hotels. The agency, whose annual budget has soared to €544m, claims there is "no overriding public" interest.

Deadlock looms on EU's new asylum pact

MEPs working on the new EU-wide asylum reforms have cast doubt on whether agreement will be reached with their co-legislating member state counterparts. A proposal to create independent monitors on human rights is also on shaky ground.

Analysis

Frontex scrutiny on rights violations is a PR stunt

Greece denies any illegal pushbacks at sea. The EU takes their version of events as face value, in a system unable and unwilling to shed doubt on Greek authorities - posing accountability questions on the EU's border guard agency Frontex.

Frontex guards in Greece could be armed by summer

Several hundred Frontex guards could be armed by the summer and deployed to EU member states that host its operations. An agreement has already been reached with Greece, says Frontex, the site of its biggest operation to date.

EU mulls visa restrictions over migrant returns

The European Commission drafted a confidential report outlining the cooperation of migrant returns in 39 countries. It is now ready to start imposing visa restrictions for those that don't take back their nationals.

Analysis

Lack of legal clarity on EU 'pushbacks' of migrants at sea

Frontex is invoking EU interception rules, plus a European Court of Human Rights case against Spain, as precedents to allow authorities to turn back migrants in boats in the Aegean Sea. But legal analysis by the EU Commission says otherwise.