Friday

19th Jul 2019

Opinion

How to monitor the EU's new border security strategy

  • The development of a monitoring mechanism, or any suitable variation to it, now appears imperative. (Photo: Fotomovimiento)

The European Council of 20-21 October has confirmed the EU’s undaunted resolve to outsource parts of its immigration control policy to third countries.

The trend started initially with the EU-Turkey migration agreement earlier this year, and gained considerable momentum with the recent adoption of the Migration Partnership Framework.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Framework entails the negotiation of several "migration compacts" with key countries of origin and transit (initially Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia), backed by significant financial and technical assistance packages.

The aim is to help these countries prevent the illegal migration of their nationals and transit migrants toward the European Union, as well as to increase cooperation on the readmission of irregular migrants already based in the EU.

The outsourcing of key elements of the EU’s border security policy to third countries has generated considerable criticism from several NGOs and migration policy experts.

In the case of the EU-Turkey agreement, a number of commentators have questioned Turkey’s status as a "safe country", not to mention a range of other issues of legality.

In terms of the Migration Partnership Framework, critics have pointed to the dangers of entrusting third countries that sometimes have poor rights records with a major component of the EU’s border security policy.

It has also been stressed that the "human rights conditionality" that had traditionally applied to the granting of EU aid to developing countries may now have been removed and replaced with the exclusive requirement to cooperate actively on migration issues.

Despite the fact that the increased externalisation of the EU’s border management policy has ensued, largely, as a result of the poor inter-state cooperation and the lack of a common migration policy vision within the European Union, as reflected in particular by the failure of the EU relocation and resettlement schemes to date, the success and viability of the new external migration policy will no doubt require that due consideration be given to the mounting concerns it is generating.

Fundamental rights officers

One way of responding to the broadening criticism which is currently weakening the EU’s cooperation strategy with third countries would by developing a fully fledged set of fundamental rights guidelines and monitoring mechanisms to review the EU's compliance with adequate human rights standards, the principle of non-refoulement and fair access to asylum procedures.

Such a fundamental rights strategy and monitoring mechanism would need to be developed and supervised by an independent consultative group that would bring together a range of relevant agencies such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and key migrant and human rights NGOs.

The strategy should aim to assess on a continuing basis the observance by the EU migration policy interventions in third countries of established legal instruments and good practices relating to issues such as asylum and appeal procedures, detention standards and readmission and reintegration policies.

In order to support the above monitoring strategy, and drawing also on the Frontex agency’s long-standing experience of responding to similar criticism about its own border surveillance activities, there would be merit in appointing both a full-time fundamental rights officer at the European Commission and local fundamental rights officers in all the EU delegations falling under the scope of the EU-Turkey agreement and the Migration Partnership Framework.

The role of the coordinating fundamental rights officer would be to report to the EU institutions, the member states and key stakeholders on the fundamental rights record of external migration policies.

Local officers, who would complement the work of the immigration liaison officers already deployed in the relevant EU delegations, would be to collect and process day-to-day information on the implementation of the fundamental rights guidelines attached to the EU’s migration policy strategy and operational activities in these countries.

Appeasing the mounting tension

As the external evaluation of Frontex conducted in 2015 has duly evidenced, the role of the fundamental rights officer has been rated very positively by the full range of stakeholders concerned and it has also contributed to increasing Frontex’s focus on the fundamental rights obligations stemming from its activities.

In order to provide the necessary political weight and visibility to the above strategy, the drafting of a dedicated European Commission communication on the fundamental rights implications of the EU’s external migration policy, to be developed in consultation with the full range of stakeholders concerned, would also contribute to appeasing the mounting tension between the EU executive and a wide range of external migration policy entities.

The development of such a monitoring mechanism, or any suitable variation of it, now appears imperative. It will not necessarily contribute to the success of the new migration cooperation policy strategy with third countries, but the absence of a comprehensive fundamental rights auditing tool will most certainly undercut or blur the future outcomes of the strategy.

In view of the number of largely aborted policy attempts to manage the EU’s external borders unilaterally since 2015, it is now essential that the new external migration policy strategy should at least be offered a favourable and consensual environment in which to test its effectiveness.

Solon Ardittis is managing director of Eurasylum and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He is also co-editor of ‘Migration Policy Practice’, a bimonthly journal published jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

EU buries migration dispute for now

This week's EU summit will take no new decision on how to manage the migration crisis. But differences of approach remain between member states.

Weber: Six proposals in wake of Spitzenkandidat process

I will not lament the decision-making process that resulted in a package deal on the new leadership in Europe. I respect this result, which was in accordance with the treaties and therefore not undemocratic, albeit unsatisfactory.

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  2. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  3. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  4. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  5. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  6. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  7. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  8. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  3. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  5. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  6. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us