Here, at the end of the week, I give an overview of my work and the currently important debates and issues in the European Parliament.
Calendar week 37/2021
I spoke at length on the Dissent podcast about the Kabul airlift, Afghanistan, and the failure of the federal government. You can listen to the one-hour conversation here.
Afghanistan resolution in parliament
In the resolution on Afghanistan, the European Parliament shows a progressive stance - compared to the Council and the Commission - on the current situation in Afghanistan. The resolution contains positive wording on migration-related aspects, including an extension of the ressettlement, humanitarian visas, a special visa programme for Afghan women seeking protection from the Taliban regime, the suspension of returns to Afghanistan and the application of the Temporary Protection Directive. During the negotiations, we Greens/EFA were also able to secure paragraphs on the establishment of a fact-finding mission within the UNHCR, an extension of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), on „Everything But Arms“preferences, on safe passage and the role of EU delegations in neighbouring countries, on insufficient progress on good governance and on the fight against corruption and the rule of law in the context of the war on terror. On local forces and protection, we managed to get a call for EU and Member States to work together to facilitate the further evacuation of EU citizens and vulnerable Afghans, in particular through the use of available safe corridors. Unfortunately, two Green amendments on the extension of temporary visas and the suspension of returns to third countries hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees and to third countries where effective protection of Afghan asylum seekers is not guaranteed were not adopted. Nor did we succeed in deleting paragraphs on the exchange of intelligence and on the EU's ability to act autonomously and on strengthening EU defence cooperation. You can read the accepted text here.
Closed warehouse on Samos
On Saturday, the first closed camp in Greece will open on the island of Samos. Several thousand people can be accommodated here. One of the new things is that all services and procedures for the protection seekers are to be provided behind the barbed wire fence and the 3-meter high wall. The protection seekers should and can thus no longer leave the camp without further ado. While the European Commission still does not want to talk about the fact that these are closed camps, the Greek government talks about it quite publicly without being shy. In view of the even greater isolation, aid organisations describe the new camps as open-air prisons.
Blue Card Reform
Parliament has adopted the EU Blue Card reform approvedwhich aims to facilitate the employment of highly skilled non-EU nationals and reduce labour shortages in key sectors. Under the revised rules, applicants must provide an employment contract or a binding job offer of at least six months and proof of higher qualifications or professional skills. Currently, a 12-month contract or offer is required. The salary threshold for applicants has also been lowered to a minimum of 100 per cent and a maximum of 160 per cent of the average gross annual salary in the member state where the applicant is employed; previously it was 150 per cent with no upper limit.
State of the Union address
Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) has described refugees currently arriving in Poland and Lithuania as a "hybrid attack to destabilise Europe". That's what she said in her State of the Union address on Wednesday, and that choice of words is absolutely wrong. It is true that Lukashenko is exploiting people to put pressure on the EU. But these people are not weapons or ammunition, and therefore we should not speak of a 'hybrid attack'. The RND has summarized the most important points of the speech here. You can read the whole speech watch here.
Calendar week 36/2021
For weeks there have been promises to evacuate people from Afghanistan, but the processes at the Interior Ministry are being dragged out. No one from the Foreign Office lists has yet been promised admission. Even people from German lists who have been evacuated are being forced to travel on to the US. The people in Afghanistan – also German citizens – are simply abandoned. I explained the situation in this video on Insta. At least six people on German evacuation lists have been executed in Afghanistan. People have been virtually prevented from being rescued, despite public claims that they should be evacuated. I spoke to Watson about this.
Afghanistan in Parliament
The situation in Afghanistan has dominated the agenda in the EP this week, with debates at several levels on how to move forward now. On Monday, a joint meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and the Delegation for relations between Afghanistan and the EU, of which I am a member, discussed the change in the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power. There are already numerous reports of massive restrictions on women's rights, and the situation is worrying, calling into question all the achievements of the last 20 years. Respect for women's rights must be a prerequisite for any dialogue with the Taliban regime, humanitarian aid must be guaranteed and safe escape routes to Europe must be made possible for women at risk. The whole debate can be listen here. This Human Rights Watch report from early August gives a good overview of how even before the fall of the government, violence against women in Afghanistan was pervasive and often went unpunished.
One year after the fire in Moria
On the night of September 8-9, 2020, the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos burned to the ground. Since then there have been many promises but hardly any change. People on Lesvos are still living in a completely unsuitable tent camp, there are still no adequate supplies of the necessities of life. After the fire disaster, the Commission promised 'No more Morias'. That promise has been broken. When I visited the new Moria a few weeks ago, the conditions were still inhumane. About the current situation I have with the news of the day spoken. You will also find on my homepage a report about my visit to Lesbos. Also at WDR Current I reported on the situation.
Situation in the Canary Islands
In August alone, according to the NGO "Caminando Fronteras", at least 509 people died during the crossing to the Canary Islands. This makes the Canary Islands route currently the deadliest in the world, ahead of the central Mediterranean route. The German-language weekly summarizes the reports. You can get more info in the Spanish-language El Día from Tenerife.
Calendar week 35/2021 – after the summer break
Parliament's summer recess is now over. I have used the time to set up the Kabul Airlift and to check on the ground the situation of refugees on the Greek islands.
Over the past few days, as part of the Kabul Airlift, I have been working to evacuate as many vulnerable people as possible from Afghanistan. In a first rescue operation with a chartered plane, we were able to save 18 people. After the federal government called off the evacuation in Kabul, we were able to get another 189 people into and out of the airport to safety. I was also in Doha this week to continue working on evacuating people there.
Unfortunately, there were also some difficulties and a real evacuation scandal. Thousands of people were put on lists and hope was spread, but these lists did not automatically land at the airport gates, so hardly anyone was given access to the airport. So they claimed in public that they were broadening the criteria, but in practice they only gave access to the airport to a very narrow group of people. Because of this PR show, many went to the airport with hope, but were never scheduled for evacuation. More than 190 people died in an attack in the crowd outside the airport.I speak in this Insta-video about the background of the scandal and the difficulties we had with the Foreign Office. At SWR I also explained that many more people could have been taken out of Afghanistan. You can find all other important information on the Homepage of the Kabul Airlift.
EU Conference of Interior Ministers
At the meeting of EU interior ministers it became clear that the priority of the Council and the Commission is to prevent refugees from Afghanistan from entering the EU. Those who want to flee from the Taliban should, in their opinion, stay in the region – and under no circumstances come to Europe. But neighbouring states have already taken in more than 80 percent of the refugees from Afghanistan. The EU must now save more people instead of sealing itself off further and further. Der Spiegel reports on the results of the conference.
Situation in the Greek islands
During Parliament's summer recess, I was again on Lesvos to see what the current situation is in the new Mavrovouni camp after the fire in Moria. I also met the Frontex forces on the ground to talk to them about the current situation and the pushbacks by the Greek coastguard. I visited various NGOs and civil society actors who are fighting to change the situation politically, but also make offers so that refugees have the opportunity to get through their difficult everyday life a little better. How the situation is currently, I have seen in this detailed article described.
Greece and pushbacks
It was announced this week, that the European Commission has stopped payments to the Greek coast guard for the time being. The background is allegations that the Greek coast guard is systematically involved in human rights violations.
The European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs has exercised its powers as the EU's budgetary authority and voted against granting discharge to the Frontex budget. With this decision, the pressure is high on the agency to fulfil the expected tasks, namely to recruit an adequate number of fundamental rights officers to monitor the missions. You can follow the vote and debate here (from 10.15am).
Evaluation of the Asylum and Migration Pact
The European Parliamentary Research Service presented its Rating of the Asylum and Migration Pact. The European Commission's reform proposal to reform the EU asylum system was already presented a year ago, but without an impact assessment by the Commission. Researchers now point out that the pact's proposals carry many risks, including the extensive detention of asylum seekers at the EU's external borders. It will be an important task for us to create legal clarity and put in place safeguards to ensure that reform does not lead to worse conditions for those seeking protection in the European Union.
Calendar week 28/2021
Outcome of the Frontex investigation team
For four months, the European Parliament has been investigating allegations against Frontex in the Frontex Scrutiny Group. The investigation has made it very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex. At the heart of the allegations is that Frontex knows about and actively participates in human rights violations at the EU's external borders. The resulting report is a first step in the right direction.
For many months now, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri has repeatedly attracted attention with new scandals and the distortion of facts. He has lied to parliament several times and is actively preventing the cases from being investigated. Despite this, the EU member states are holding on to him. If the EU Member States really want Frontex to improve, they must finally appoint a new Executive Director. Frontex continues to expand. Yet wherever human rights violations are reported the EU agency looks the other way. Neither in Croatia nor in Greece does Frontex have any serious missions to monitor borders across the board. This turns the agency into a tax-wasting machine that serves as a fig leaf to cover up violations of the law by the Member States. Human rights organisations are banned from observing the borders. Frontex looks the other way or is sent away. It is becoming increasingly difficult to observe what is happening at Europe's external borders. Meanwhile, even the locations of sea rescue cases are kept secret. But hundreds of reports of human rights violations must no longer go without consequences. The EU Commission must finally launch an investigation with infringement proceedings against Frontex and Greece. The member states must reorganise Frontex. In view of the devastating report of the Court of Auditors, the EU Parliament should block a further budget increase of Frontex. You can watch the presentation of the report here Watch. (My speech at 9:39).
My guest contribution on the Frontex investigation team
I wrote a guest article for T-Online in which I call for consequences after Frontex covered up human rights violations. It is entitled: "Violence, Breaches of Law, Torture: Anything is Possible at EU Borders."
Open letter to Heiko Maas
The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating by the day, the Taliban are conquering more and more territory and a successful peace negotiation seems a long way off. In addition, the humanitarian situation is difficult and the pandemic situation continues to deteriorate. More and more people are having to flee because of this. The Afghan government recently asked for a Deportation stop from Europebut Germany continues to deport. Therefore I have written a letter to Heiko Maas and ask him to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in accordance with new findings and developments.
Criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs
We also had a debate on the criminalisation of life-saving activities by Member States. Médecins Sans Frontières described the multiple attacks on civil society that are under way in several EU countries. When I asked the Commission why, in the absence of state or EU-led search and rescue operations, it – does not support NGOs that fill the gap and save lives, I got no answer. Until the Commission takes action here against the criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs, people will continue to drown who should not have to. You can watch the meeting here See. (My speech at 10:37)
Green success in lobby control
Lobbying rules in the European Parliament and the EU Commission are to be controlled by an independent ethics body in future - despite opposition from the Christian Democrats and CDU/CSU in the EU Constitutional Affairs Committee. We Greens had already called for this in the European election campaign 2019 demanded, now finally the EU Constitutional Committee for Daniel Freunds Report voted for an independent ethics panel. You can find out more on the homepage of Daniel Freund.
Calendar week 27/2021
The 9.88 billion euro fund for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2021-2027 aims to strengthen the common European asylum policy. We have achieved that funds can be applied for directly by regional and local authorities, so that EU states can no longer so easily prevent the funding of committed cities and regions. This means that municipalities can no longer be so easily prevented from dealing with flight and migration in a spirit of solidarity.
Talk without guest
I was a guest on the podcast "Talk ohne Gast". I didn't really understand the concept behind it, but the conversation with Till Reiners and Moritz Neumeier was great fun. You can listen to the episode listen to the longer version here or watch in a slightly shortened version here on video.
Subsidies for climate-damaging energy sources
Every year billions of euros of state money are spent on fossil fuels - we Greens want to finally turn off this climate-damaging money tap. What you should also know outside Brussels: Most MEPs from the CDU, CSU and FDP wanted to prevent this. You can find out how the German MEPs voted by contacting my colleague Michael Bloß on Twitter see
Question on Afghanistan
Together with my colleagues Bettina Vollath (S&D) and Clare Daly (GUE), I have this week submitted a written question to the European Commission on Afghanistan. The subject of my question is the current development of the Security situation and the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation (Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation, JDMC), that is, the new repatriation agreement between the EU and Afghanistan. Since the JDMC was adopted without the involvement of Parliament, I would like to know to what extent the Commission will involve the EP in the future with regard to the agreement. I am also interested in the Commission's assessment of the security situation in the country and the compatibility with deportations to Afghanistan. I have also asked a question about the issuing of visas to local staff. The Commission has 6 weeks to reply to my questions, and I will link the reply here.
Question on the withdrawal of residence permits of Syrian refugees in Denmark
On 26 April, together with a number of left-wing and Socialist MEPs, I sent the Commission a question on the withdrawal of residence permits for Syrian refugees in Denmark. We wanted to know what the Commission's position was on the plans and what, if anything, it intended to do about repatriations to Syria.
In the reply, the Commission writes that it does not support return to Syria and agrees with the assessment of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations that the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified return do not currently exist. And the Commission also makes it clear that Denmark remains bound to respect the principle of non-refoulement and also remains committed to examining each case individually. However, our question what measures the Commission intends to take to counter Denmark's behaviour was not really answered. You can find the question and the answer here.
Justice for Stanislav Tomáš
On 19 June, Stanislav Tomáš died in the Czech Republic after two police officers knelt on him. This is a tragic example of racist police violence in Europe. The Anti-racism and diversity group of the European Parliament calls in a Letter to the Commission to make a public statement against police misconduct that disproportionately affects marginalised people such as Roma, PoCs and others. We call for an independent and exhaustive investigation into the case. In addition, the Commission should call on Czech public officials and the media to refrain from stereotyping the victim and further stigmatizing Roma. The focus should remain on the inadequate or non-existent police response that led to the death of Stanislav Tomáš.
Calendar week 26/2021
This week, three committees of the European Parliament met to discuss once again the budget discharge for Frontex. Many different investigations are under way to uncover the specific failings of Frontex. As the budgetary authority, Parliament has a responsibility to hold Frontex to account when it is not operating as required by its mandate. In parallel with the budgetary procedure, the Frontex investigation team is working on its report, concluding its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In internal meetings during the remaining weeks of this parliamentary session, the members of the working group will discuss the findings and the recommendations to be included in the written report. You can watch the meeting of the interior committee here.
33 European cities form safe havens alliance
Together they signed a declaration and thus founded the "International Alliance of Safe Harbour Cities".. In the paper, the cities call for the right to asylum to be upheld in every European state, for reception quotas for the voluntary reception of refugees in the municipalities, and for direct funding of reception in the cities by the European Union to the municipalities.
My podcast on Afghanistan
In my podcast, I talk with journalist Shikiba Babori about the current situation in Afghanistan, the troop withdrawal and the future of the people in the Hindu Kush. We focus especially on the rights of women and minorities. We also explain why freedom of the press is better in Afghanistan than in many neighbouring countries. You can listen to the episode here. You can also listen to the podcast on Spotify, Itunes or Soundcloud Subscribe.
Visit to the Greek Greens
This week I was at the Greens in Greece guest. In their webinar, they discussed the implications of the European Commission's proposal for a new common pact on asylum and migration. Greece, as a member state at the EU's external border, is an important building block for all proposed solutions. The Greek civilian population has been trying for years to provide what the member states cannot: humane accommodation and solidarity with people seeking protection in our country. It is good and important that the Greek Greens are actively involved in the discussion here.
Pride in Tbilisi
Currently, the Pride in Tbilisi took place. At the request of local activists, I, together with other MEPs, appealed to the Georgian authorities to provide sufficient protection for the events. Previously, events of the LGBTQI community were often attacked by opponents. The leader of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, even wanted to cancel Pride. You can read the letter to the Georgian Minister of the Interior here.
Calendar week 25/2021
Frontex investigation team
This week the Frontex investigation team holds its last meetingto complete its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In those four months, it has become very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex in terms of its operations, its management, its financial practices and its accountability. Commissioner Johansson expressed her concern and disappointment to Executive Director Leggeri at our meeting on Wednesday, and the Portuguese Interior Minister, Mr Cabrita, insisted that our investigations must have consequences. In the coming weeks, the group will negotiate its findings and recommendations, which will be incorporated into a report. The question is still whether the Conservatives are prepared to commit to the truth or whether they want to negate the facts and human rights in order to exonerate Frontex and continue building Fortress Europe undisturbed.
From the Sea to the City – Alliance of Host Communities
In Palermo, the European conference "From The Sea to the City" began on Friday, where various European cities are forming an alliance today to welcome refugees. I discussed with Gesine Schwan, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Muhamad al-Kashef, Chiara Cardoletti and the mayors of Potsdam and Palermo, Mike Schubert and Leoluca Orlando. More info and the videos of the panels can be found here.
My written questions on "sound cannons" and accommodation on the Greek islands in winter
The Greek border police is using so-called „sound cannons“ at the EU's external borders to prevent people seeking protection from being able to apply for asylum. Not only does this violate EU law, but countries have now outlawed such weapons because they can cause permanent damage. How the European Commission assesses the situation I'm trying to find out with this written question.
The Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the European Commission and the Greek government after the Moria fire disaster stipulates that the new camp on Lesbos will be operational by the end of September 2021 at the latest. However, the tender for the construction has only been published at the end of May. It also provides for a maximum construction period of 8 months, well into next year. How the Commission now intends to keep its promise that protection seekers will not have to freeze in tents for another winter, I ask you in this written question.
Serious human rights violations in Croatia
New videos showhow the sick and pregnant women are also systematically denied access to asylum procedures in Europe that are based on the rule of law. Entire families are being taken back through the forest across the Croatian EU border at night. Ursula von der Leyen is simply watching as the rule of law is abolished at the external borders. The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee also conducted an unannounced investigation into how Croatian police treat fugitives in the summer of 2020. According to information from investigative journalists, the report clearly confirms the human rights violations at the border. Zagreb is vehemently opposing the publication.
With the Matić Report the European Parliament is clearly committed to sexual and reproductive rights and recognises them as fundamental human rights. The denial of these rights is a form of gender-based violence that is unfortunately a reality in many Member States. Member States must now fully guarantee sexual and reproductive rights and ensure access to safe and legal abortion. In the run-up to the report, anti-feminist actors put massive pressure on progressive MEPs to prevent its adoption. Packages of plastic fetuses were even sent out and fundamentalist lobby organisations did their utmost. But the majority of MPs clearly positioned themselves in favour of the right to self-determination, bodily integrity, equality and non-discrimination. In the current context of strengthening anti-feminist and authoritarian ideologies, this report is a strong sign for feminism and emancipation.
Development Committee There were two votes in the development area. The motion for a resolution on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25/ Nairobi Summit) was supported by us Greens and adopted with a broad majority. In doing so, the European Parliament endorses the results of the meeting and calls for the implementation and funding of the ICPD action programme. The central demand is universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of universal health coverage. Also adopted was the Report on the role of EU development cooperation and humanitarian aid in dealing with the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic. (DE) The report assesses the EU's global response to the Covid 19 pandemic and makes recommendations on how to tackle the health, social and economic crisis triggered by Covid 19 in the Global South through development and humanitarian aid. Although the text itself did not contain any problematic passages, I abstained from the vote because, due to the EPP and S&D leadership, there was no opportunity to push through progressive demands on debt relief, health and agroecology, among other issues.
Calendar week 24/2021
Nadir crew negotiates to take rescued to Italy instead of Libya
The German observation ship Nadir has found an emergency at sea in the Maltese sea rescue zone. Instead of sending a rescue ship, Malta had only alerted the Libyan coast guard, which wanted to bring the people to the internment camps. The crew refused. With political pressure and negotiations, in which I also got involved, it was finally achieved that the Italian coast guard rescued the people and brought them to Italy. You can read more on the Twitter channel of RESQSHIP and at DW.
Frontex investigation team
This week, the Schengen Inquiry Group met with the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs exchanged. In my contribution, I have tried to describe the complex and deeply worrying situation in which the Agency finds itself, based on our findings. We were able to observe an example of pushback described by Agency staff as the modus operandi of the Greek Coast Guard. This confirms that the Greek government lied to the LIBE Committee and that in order to reduce the number of arrivals, fundamental rights are violated on a daily basis at the Greek-Turkish border. Frontex can either cooperate with the Greek authorities, who are actively violating rights and the agency's own mandate, or stop operating. But in our experience with the agency in Hungary, Frontex is still carrying out operations in support of repatriation, despite the Commission's advice, even when the violations are recognised by the EU's own court, the ECJ. This inquiry brings more and more evidence of the serious problems with the agency and at the Union's external borders. You can watch the whole session watch again here.
Presentation of the election campaign of the Green Party Berlin for the parliamentary elections 2021
Under the claim „klargehtdas“ the campaign of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives in September 2021 was presented today. I am pleased that we are entering the race for the Red City Hall in Berlin with Bettina Jarasch. In recent years, she has been a strong advocate for those seeking protection in Berlin as Spokesperson for Refugees and Migration, and hopefully she will soon be able to do the same from the Red City Hall. The election posters are available here.
Conference of Interior Ministers
The Minister of the Interior of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Thomas Strobl (CDU), at the start of the conference of the Ministers of the Interior in Rust in Baden in favour of deportations from Germany to Syria. He knows you can't do that because people are being abused and killed there and it would take a deal with Assad. He's only interested in catering to right-wing populist sentiment.
Implementation of Global Europe-NDICI
As Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Development, I participated this week in the first geopolitical dialogue with Commissioner Urpilainen and High Representative Borrell. This was the first meeting in this series, which is to take place every six months in future as part of the European Parliament's greater rights of participation and control with regard to the implementation of Global Europe-NDICI. The multi-annual indicative programmes for pre-selected countries from the geographical pillar, which will play a key role in development cooperation in the coming years, were discussed. Most of the meeting was held in camera, but you can watch the first part of the meeting at here listen. The EP's monitoring work has only just begun with this meeting, and I will be taking a closer look in the future, especially at the projects that fall under the migration target. What is at stake in this, CONCORD has recently Position paper summarized.
Asylum Procedure Code
On Thursday, what was probably the last meeting on the asylum procedure regulations before the summer break took place. The political groups are still far apart on issues such as the wider use of border procedures and the use of detention in the pre-entry phase of the asylum procedure. Unfortunately, the European Commission has still not provided us with accurate figures on the cost of the proposed procedures or given us a credible simulation of the provisions. Therefore, we must await the internal parliamentary report on the Pact and ensure that our reforms do not codify incorrect practice or lower standards of protection for asylum seekers.
Calendar week 23/2021
EU Parliament calls for temporary suspension of vaccine patents
The European Parliament calls for temporary suspension of Corona vaccine patents, in order to eliminate supply bottlenecks in poorer countries. The call for the suspension of patent protection was controversial in Parliament. 355 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 263 against and 71 abstained. MEPs from the CDU, CSU, FDP and AfD tried to prevent the demand. Here you can see how the German MEPs voted.
Covid 19 certificates
Members of the EU Parliament voted with a clear majority for the planned vaccination certificate. We welcome the agreement to ensure free movement in the pandemic by providing a common EU tool to ensure mutual recognition of national COVID-19 certificates. The system will have high data protection standards. The technical approach chosen – a public key infrastructure – ensures that no personal data will need to flow within the EU, but will only be stored on the certificate itself and in the patient file of the doctor or testing or vaccination centre. It is therefore not possible to trace back where a certificate is issued. The certificate is valid for 12 months. You can find out more in the Parliament press release.
Since the announcement and start of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the security situation on the ground has deteriorated once again. The Taliban are conquering new territories in the provinces, there are weekly attacks on civilians, especially women and children. Peace negotiations are stalled and the COVID-19 pandemic has further weakened the economy. A catastrophic drought is looming and already a third of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid. Afghanistan is considered the most insecure country in the world, yet regular deportations continue from Europe and the EU has recently signed a new readmission agreement with Afghanistan. I highlighted all these factors in our Afghanistan resolution this plenary week as rapporteur for the Greens, calling for, among other things, a halt to deportations, the issuing of humanitarian visas to local people, greater involvement of the Afghan Parliament and greater accountability for the attacks that have taken place. Unfortunately, I was not able to get all of these demands passed in the cross-party resolution, but on migration at least I was able to get one point on a mandatory human rights review of the new repatriation agreement. Here are the links to my speech on the situation in Afghanistan, to the Green resolution and the cross-party compromise.
European Court of Auditors criticises Frontex
The EU Court of Auditors has massively criticised Frontex in a report. I am calling in Der Spiegel for the EU Parliament to block the Frontex budget. We cannot continue to waste taxes on lack of transparency, inefficiency and human rights violations. You can find the article here.
Interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur
I spoke with Weltzeit on Deutschlandfunk Kultur about European refugee policy and how the impression is being created that the EU is waging war against people trying to reach Europe on rubber dinghies. You can listen to the conversation here.
Now it becomes known that the construction work for the new camp on Lesbos have not even begun. The agreement concluded between the Greek Government and the European Commission memorandum of understanding however, envisages that it will be put into operation in September 2021. That this is unlikely is also shown by the fact that the public tender for the construction was published only recently. This foresees a completion in the course of 8 months. Already in April I have the European Commission asked to comment on the progress of the construction of the planned new camp on Lesbos, it has not done so so far.
Calendar week 22/2021
Policy against right-wing extremism and for Saxony-Anhalt
I spoke with Sebastian Striegl, chairman of the Greens in Saxony-Anhalt, about the upcoming state elections on June 6. The topic is how best to fight right-wing extremism and what ideas we Greens have for Saxony-Anhalt. The 54-minute conversation you can find me on Instagram see
Frontex investigation team
On Thursday, we spoke to the head of operations of the Italian coastguard, who described cooperation with the Libyan coastguard as cooperation required by law to rescue people. As Libya is not a safe haven and people there face imprisonment, torture and forced prostitution, some of the MEPs questioned this designation. The new fundamental rights officer of Frontex and the UNHCR were also guests. All were aware of the existing problems within Frontex as well as the concerns at the EU's external borders, but instead of discussing the specific cases under investigation, the conversation focused more on the future and the possibilities that the new Fundamental Rights Officer has.
Even though our investigation is drawing to a close, there are still many questions to be answered before we can draw conclusions in our report. It is therefore a pity that the Danish navy and the Spanish coastguard could not come, and that Frontex's former fundamental rights officer was not there either, whose reports Fabrice Leggeri largely ignored, according to Spiegel research.to cover up the pushback scandal. You can follow the entire session here.
Readmissions between Turkey and Greece
Greece rejects asylum applications from people seeking protection and issues exit orders to Turkey. However, Turkey has not allowed any readmissions for over a year now - people have to leave, but cannot. This leads to a situation of "perpetual refugees" who live in miserable conditions in Greece because they no longer receive benefits.
I have asked the EU Commissionwhether this practice is compatible with EU law. In its reply, the Commission statesthat the practice of denying benefits is contrary to European law. Now, at long last, the Greek Government must also comply with the EU directive and, therefore, with applicable law. Unfortunately, however, we currently have a situation both in the camps and at the external borders in which the Greek Government is obviously breaking the law and getting away with it. You can find the question and the answer here.
News from Greece
The Greek authorities started this only yesterday, Vaccinate refugees on Lesvos, Chios and Samos against Covid-19, although the country has been vaccinated since January. It is incomprehensible that the people in the camps are being vaccinated so late, because they are particularly at risk due to the cramped conditions and lack of hygiene, and many are actually infected. On my homepage I inform here regularly on the latest developments in Greece.
Asylum Procedure Code
On Tuesday, the MEPs responsible for reforming the asylum procedure regulation met with the European Commission to discuss their simulation of the new rules. The presentation of their simulation raised more questions than it answered. Although evidence-based policy-making has been our demand as a Parliament in the process of reforming the Common European Asylum System, we expect implementation and impact assessments of the old and new procedures, not fictitious figures simulated with fictitious staff in fictitious centres of the future. The Commission has admitted that it does not have the facts to realistically simulate the application of the rules proposed in the Pact. As we discussed this somewhat opaque simulation, it also became clear that there is no attempt to simulate how the fundamental freedoms and reception conditions of asylum seekers would be affected by the changes. Moreover, there is no data to simulate arrivals in countries like Germany and France, which seem to be the most defensive of the Commission's proposals. Probably mainly because they expect to have to take in fewer protection-seekers with the new pact.
On June 02 Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I took a prisoner sponsorship, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal column. He is already detained for more than a year. Repeatedly he is transferred to solitary confinement without explanation. There he has to stand in his cell from morning until night. Overall, the conditions of detention in Belarus are catastrophic, as increasing reports of Torture, Suicide (attempts) and Dead prove. Therefore, the EU urgently needs to support political prisoners and democratic activists. Currently there are 472 political prisoners in Belarusian prisons. If you would like to support them, you can contact Politzek ...inspired.
Calendar week 21/2021
Talk with Afghan MPs
As a member of the Delegation for relations between Afghanistan and the EU, I took part in a meeting with the European External Action Service on Friday. The main topic was the security situation - also in view of the imminent withdrawal of NATO troops. You can watch the meeting here (my speech begins at 15:54:55). I also had a meeting with three members of the Afghan Parliament. This exchange also focused on the current security situation, the difficult negotiations with the Taliban and, above all, how we can facilitate closer cooperation. At the last donor conference in November 2020, the EU pledged €1.2 billion for Afghanistan, which is urgently needed. Unfortunately, not all the money is reaching its destination. Corruption is a major problem. This is where the Afghan Parliament can play an important role, if it can properly exercise its budgetary control functions. I have pledged my support in this.
Proposal for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum
On Thursday, the Committee on Home Affairs invited to various panels on the Commission's proposal for a new pact on asylum and migration. Unfortunately, there are still relevant actors who see a Fortress Europe and externalisation of the EU's external borders and cooperation with dictators as the right concept for a common European asylum policy. I was shocked by the ignorance of the governments of Germany and France towards the states on the EU's external borders, which are to be expected to do even more with the pact than they already are. Moreover, we currently have a situation in which people and their rights at the external borders are being trampled underfoot on a daily basis. As the Pact currently stands, this would not change in the future either.You can watch the first part of the session at here and the second here Watch.
Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri tries to cover up pushback scandal and ignores his own human rights commissioner
Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri has been under pressure for months over his border guards' involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean. Internal documents show: Frontex's own human rights officer spoke of "solid evidence" of pushbacks in the Aegean, but Frontex chief Leggeri may have simply ignored her. The Spiegel reports.
Greek refugee camps are being walled up
Under the keyword „modernization“ are just all refugee camps in Greece rebuilt. They are equipped as standard with three-metre-high fences, surveillance technology and personalised access cards. This practice clearly contradicts the EU Reception Directive. I have written to the EU Commission on this this written question sent. I would like to know whether the Commission is aware of these developments, whether it supports the construction of concrete walls to enclose Greek refugee camps and whether this construction work is in line with the EU's values and objectives.
MEPs call for a full return to the borderless Schengen area
Since 2015, border controls between member states of the Schengen area have continued, even though the agreement is designed to abolish them. The Schengen Borders Code must be revised and the Commission should consider infringement procedures against states that continue to carry out controls. MEPs voted in favour of this by a clear majority in the European Parliament's Home Affairs Committee this week. Read more here.
Civilian rescue at sea
On Wednesday, I was invited to Sea-Eye to talk about sea rescue and the role of Frontex in the Mediterranean. The Sea-Eye 4 ended its mission last week, rescuing more than 400 people. People still have to die on the flight to Europe. The solutions are obvious: civilian rescue at sea could also be financed by the European Commission, as a study I commissioned shows. Study ...is the way it's done.
Following the forced landing of Ryanair flight 4978 and the kidnapping of Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian regime, I join other MEPs in calling for consequences. In this letter we call on Siemens to cease cooperation with the regime in Minsk. Specifically, Siemens is supporting Belarus by supplying materials for the construction of a nuclear power plant on its immediate border with the EU. In addition, European banks such as the Eurasian Development Bank and the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen are granting loans to the Belarusian state, which are being used to build the nuclear power plant.
Calendar week 20/2021
This week I gave a speech in Parliament on preventing sea rescue in the Mediterranean. There were also many important votes on asylum, migration and Corona patents, and a meeting of the Frontex investigation team.
My speech on European sea rescue in Parliament
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak in the EU Parliament about sea rescue in the Mediterranean. I find it pathetic that EU states have decided that people in the Mediterranean should rather drown or be mistreated in Libya than reach Europe alive. You can find my entire speech on my Instagram.
EU Parliament votes for TRIPS waiver
The EU Parliament votes for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Corona vaccines and medicines. Of the German parliamentary groups, the Greens, SPD and Left voted in favour. CDU/CSU, AfD and FDP voted against ensuring that people in poorer countries have sufficient access to necessary vaccines and medicines. Unfortunately, the German government and the EU Commission are also against the plan to temporarily suspend property rights. The voting behaviour of the German delegates can be seen here. Here you will find more information about the TRIPS waiver in general and the positioning of the USA and the EU. Here you can listen to individual speeches from the debate.
EU Parliament calls for respect of human rights in cooperation with third countries
In the externalisation of EU migration policy, responsibility is increasingly being shifted to third countries, with the result, among other things, that people find it more difficult to seek protection in the EU. This week, the European Parliament adopted a report by my group colleague, Tineke Strik, which calls for respect for human rights to be made the focus of all agreements with third countries. This report provides the first operational framework for ensuring effective protection and safeguards throughout the migration policy cycle and across all EU actors and bodies, as well as for enhanced parliamentary scrutiny and democratic oversight. Find out more at Twitter at Tineke Strik.
Parliament votes for more legal access to the EU
With a clear majority of 495 votes in favour and 163 against, the European Parliament has voted in favour of more legal opportunities for labour migration to the EU. The EU Commission is thus called upon to create more legal opportunities for access to the EU and also a talent pool. More on the vote you can find out on Twitter from my group colleague Damian Boeselager.
Commission replies to my question on the situation of shelters on the Greek islands
On 12 March, I sent the Commission a question to find out what specific plans were being made to improve the situation on the Greek islands. The answer states that the accommodation has improved since the fire in Moria. However, even eight months after the fire, the residents do not notice much of this. The situation is far from being humane and from meeting EU standards. The Commission writes: "The Greek authorities have confirmed that the residents of the new centre will be able to enter and leave the camp as they wish". At the moment, people are not allowed to move freely and are locked up. The Commission claims here that this will be different in the new camps, but the Greek government continues to speak publicly of closed campswhich are to be built there. Here the Greek Government seems to be making different promises to the public than to the Commission. You can find the request and the answer on my homepage.
Frontex investigation team
Today, at the sixth meeting of the Frontex Inquiry Group, we spoke to the EU Ombudsman and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, both of whom have raised concerns about the situation at the EU's external borders. You can check out the session here. The week before, we spoke to journalists from Lighthouse Report and Spiegel in the Home Affairs Committee to discuss their investigation into Frontex's role in systematic human rights abuses at the EU's external borders. They told us about their complex investigative methods that resulted in data clearly showing that the agency knows about pushbacks due to the positioning of its operations. In addition, the panellists described cases where Frontex boats themselves were involved in illegal pushback activities. You can find this session here.
On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia on May 17, the LGBTI Intergroup of the European Parliament, of which I am a member, organised an event on the rights of LGBTI people in the EU. Civil society representatives were invited from Poland, Hungary and Latvia, where the situation is increasingly deteriorating. You can check out the event here. In Germany, too, in 2020 782 hate crimes against LGBTI persons were registered. This corresponds to an increase of 36% compared to the previous year.
Calendar week 18/2021
…Until everyone is safe
On 5 May, the US agreed to suspend patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines, which is an important signal, because we can only tackle this pandemic together. Pressure must now be exerted on the Commission to reconsider its position. Therefore, together with 155 other MEPs, I signed a letter to the Commission urging it to actively support the temporary suspension of vaccine ownership rights.
If you also want to put pressure on the EU, you can support the European Citizens' Initiative No profit on pandemic Support.
Police violence in Colombia
Since the end of April, people in Colombia have been on strike against a planned tax reform by President Ivan Duque, as well as against increasing poverty and violence. Since then, the police has been acting with extreme brutality against demonstrators, numerous people have been murdered and disappeared. Every two days, a human rights activist or politician is murdered in Colombia; since 2016, this has affected over 1,000 activists. In a letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, I join other MEPs in condemning police violence in Colombia. We are committed to the EU's efforts to ensure that the peace treaty is respected.
News from Moria
On Lesvos, the Kara Tepe camp was closed, although the conditions there were relatively good. People were moved to the new Moria camp called Mavrovouni. Midwife Julia Falkner is on site for Doctors Without Borders and reports on the catastrophic conditions.
Hundreds of people rescued from distress at sea
Civilian sea rescue organisations have rescued more than 600 refugees in the Mediterranean within a few days. The ship Ocean Viking of the organization SOS Méditerranée brought 236 refugees to Sicily on Saturday. In the last few days, Sea Watch has rescued another 456 people.
Mayor calls for European sea rescue programme
The mayor of Palermo calls for a civilian European sea rescue programme in the Mediterranean. European cities, NGOs and aid organisations could work together with the support of the European Union. In June he organises the solidarity congress ‚From the sea to the city‘ together with the mayor of Potsdam.
A study I commissioned shows..: The EU can finance sea rescue. The Commission could provide financial support to non-governmental organisations to set up a civilian European Maritime Rescue Mission. This does not require the consent of the Member States.
Calendar week 17/2021
This week, my work was once again heavily influenced by Frontex. There have been new revelations about Frontex's involvement in illegal pullbacks to Libya and we are also drafting concepts in the Frontex investigation group to be able to hold the agency accountable for misconduct and breaches of the law in the future.
Frontex provides information to 'Libyan Coast Guard' for deadly interceptions
Frontex sends information on sea rescue cases in the Mediterranean via WhatsApp groups and emails directly to the "Libyan Coast Guard". Until now, Frontex also claimed to the European Parliament that they only inform sea rescue control centres about sea rescue cases. This was their justification for not giving coordinates to surrounding ships that could ensure the fastest possible rescue. You can read the research here read in the mirror. A summary and my commentary on the illegal actions of Frontex can be found at here on my homepage.
Frontex investigation team
This week, we spoke with two legal experts about Frontex's duties and responsibilities. Melanie Fink made concrete proposals to improve transparency and the complaints mechanism at Frontex. She also reiterated: Pushbacks are always illegal and have no basis in the rule of law. However, there is still no answer to the question of how Frontex can be brought before a court for violating people's fundamental rights. It is a fundamental flaw in the construction of Frontex that the agency and its head can currently hardly be held accountable for their misdeeds. We must find ways to change that. You can watch the session again here.
Europe in Saxony-Anhalt
On Wednesday, we did an online event on the topics of climate, flight and trade in Saxony-Anhalt. Besides me, the MEPs Ska Keller and Anna Cavazzini, the Minister of the Environment of Saxony-Anhalt Claudia Dalbert and the chairwoman of Toll e.V Juliana Gombe were there. You can check out the event here.
The digital green certificate is accepted
(DE) This week in plenary, we adopted the 'digital green certificate', in other words the EU Covid certificate. The aim of the certificate is to find a uniform EU regulation for border crossings and to reduce the current bureaucratic hurdles, which mainly affect commuters. For us Greens, the very important issues of data protection, the offer of free testing facilities and the principle of non-discrimination in order to avoid a de facto compulsory vaccination were able to be pushed through, so that I voted in favour of the report. Here you can listen to the debate and individual speeches.
Criminalisation of activists
In the friendship group on migration we exchanged views with Helena Maleno from. She worked in Morocco for the rights of refugees until she was recently deported to Spain. She blames the EU, Spain and Morocco for her expulsion. She is not the only activist to be persecuted for her human rights work. She gained access to files about the case against her. Frontex explicitly collected information about her and asked refugees about her as if she were a human trafficker.
Calendar week 16/2021
Frontex investigation team
On Friday, a meeting of the Frontex Investigation Group took place in the European Parliament. I asked questions about the legality of the EU-Turkey deal, the obligation to rescue at sea and the right to leave. Under EU law, asylum seekers must receive an individual assessment of their case after being given a chance to ask for international protection. Non-refoulement, the prohibition of being sent back to a place that puts one's life and dignity in danger, is prohibited. So is the collective expulsion of people who are on the move to seek protection. There is no way around these obligations, either for EU Member States or Frontex. This group will hold further hearings and examine documents to investigate the extent of the agency's complicity in the systematic violations of fundamental rights at the EU's borders.
The you can watch the whole session here. You can find my questions in the timeline at 10:26.47.
Margaritas Schinas as a guest in the Interior Committee of the European Parliament
The subject of the meeting was the situation of vulnerable persons and persons with mental health problems in Greek reception centres. What I personally saw and experienced, and what the media and NGOs documented on the ground, was in complete contradiction to the arguments put forward by the Vice-President. The situation in the Greek hotspots is and has been inhumane, degrading and dangerous to the physical and mental health of the protection seekers housed there. The Vice-President also claimed in his remarks that the Pact's proposals would improve the situation. I believe these statements to be false and, as shadow rapporteur on the Asylum Procedures Regulation, I have to say that the proposed changes would make the hotspot approach the default mode for many protection seekers in the EU. I am sorry to say that it was a very disappointing conversation.
The whole three-hour session you can watch here:
Reception stop for refugees from Greece
103 refugees from Greece landed in Germany on Thursday. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has announced that it does not plan to take in any more refugees. Yet it would be important to continue taking people out of places like the new Moria. A You can find a report about this in the NDR.
Two meetings of the Committee on Development took place this week. On Monday, the rapporteurs presented their Draft on the implementation report on the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Although good preparatory work has been done here with regard to the criticism of the European Parliament's lack of co-determination and supervisory rights, important elements are missing with regard to the implementation and objective of the instruments, here my speech on this (skip to 14:42:38). Together with my colleagues from the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I will be tabling the relevant amendments next week.
On Thursday, the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, was a guest for the so-called „Strategic Dialogue“, a regular exchange between the Commission and Parliament. A wide variety of topics were addressed, but the global vaccination strategy remains at the forefront. Little progress has been made, especially our call for a temporary lifting of patent rights on vaccines and medical devices or therapies is still not being heard. Here you can listen to the session.
Greens in Treptow-Köpenick
My district association Treptow-Köpenick has adopted the district election program at the district members' meeting on 17 April 2021. There was a lively participation of the members in the process. Over 50 amendments were proposed and discussed. The preliminary program can be found here: https://gruene-treptow-koepenick.de/bezirkswahlprogramm/
In the Iraq delegation, we talked about Turkey's role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Turkey is using the fight against the PKK as a pretext for aggressive operations throughout the region and is fighting Kurdish autonomy efforts in Turkey and its neighbouring states. It is likely to win the fight against them if no third party intervenes. It is also encroaching on Iraq's sovereignty and has established several military posts inside Iraq. Presumably, Turkey's role will soon be discussed in plenary.
Calendar week 15/2021
Climate crisis as a cause of flight
On Wednesday evening, I spoke together with Tina Prietz, direct candidate for the Bundestag election 2021 from Erlangen, about the topic „flight cause climate crisis“.
Climate change is already forcing many people to leave their homes, sometimes only for a short time, often within national borders. Some because their homes are flooded, others because their fields dry out and ecosystems are irreversibly damaged. Still others, the so-called trapped populations, lack the resources to escape their situation.
The World Bank expects 140 million climate refugees by 2050, assuming all other conditions remain the same. In 2008, the IOM already estimated the number of climate refugees in 2050 at up to 200 million. And even if global warming can be limited to "only" two degrees, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there will be 280 million climate refugees by 2100.
We must face these realities on an equal footing with the Global South and promote opportunities for adaptation to climate change and resilience building. Furthermore, we need a system - if possible on a global level - that takes into account environmental causes as a reason for flight.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to listen to the conversation, but I can offer you the following Publication the Heinrich Böll Foundation and my Blog post on the causes of flight for more information.
How refugees in Greece receive money
In order to support the protection seekers on the Greek islands, the UNHCR has set up a Cash Assistance Programme. Under this scheme, a fixed monthly amount is transferred to an account for the protection seekers, which they can then dispose of freely. In this contribution on my homepage I have summarized how EU funds directly reach refugees in Greece.
Home Affairs Committee on Eurodac
At Tuesday, the Interior Committee discussed the revision of the Eurodac negotiation. The proposal of the right-wing ECR provides for biometric and alphanumeric data to be linked and transmitted to Frontex, Europol and other agencies. Border and coast guards are also to have access to the data. It is planned to feed biometric data also of children into the database. The aim is to identify third-country nationals and, if necessary, to deport them promptly. The proposal is explicitly for the illegalisation of people rescued from distress at sea. Data protection and human rights for refugees play no role in the proposal. The Committee criticises the Commission for wanting to convert Eurodac into a statistical database in order to take repressive action against refugees. It is also problematic that the proposal builds on amendments to a proposal from the previous legislative period without prior agreement and that no proper parliamentary work and scrutiny was possible.
The meeting of the Belarus delegation on Wednesday focused on the situation of trade unionists and the Polish minority in Belarus. Solidarity was expressed with the trade unions in Belarus. Independent trade unions have a hard time and their members are often repressed for trade union activities. Activists are dismissed. Solidarity is forming against this and various programmes have been developed. For example, people in solidarity try to continue paying the wages of dismissed workers or organise food for them.
Asylum Procedure Regulation
This week, MEPs working on the reform of the Asylum Procedures Regulation met with experts from civil society and the European Commission. The situation in the Greek and Italian hotspots was discussed.
I am always concerned about the huge gap between the rights of refugees and the reality on the ground. I want to make sure that the legislation is based on human rights and is also implemented as it is intended. At the moment, I have many questions about the amended Asylum Procedure Code and whether the ideas it contains would contribute to asylum procedures based on the rule of law.
Croatian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(DE) On Wednesday, our working group on the Committee on Foreign Affairs dealt with Croatia's influence on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the EU country Croatia is causing instability in Bosnia by beating back illegal refugees there and even crossing the border with armed forces to do so, thus violating Bosnia-Herzegovina's sovereignty. The conservative government systematically spreads lies about refugees and how to deal with them. But there is also good news. With Možemo! (We Can), a green-left party has been in the Croatian parliament since the last elections and won seven percent in the 2020 elections.
Calendar week 13/2021
Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag because of racist hostility
Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag for the Greens because of racist hostility and the threat to his family. This makes not only sad, but angry. Tareq is from Damascus and fled to Germany six years ago. On Twitter, many people have set a sign for an open society and against racism under #SolidaritätmitTareq. You can read more about this in the Frankfurter Rundschau.
Study shows: EU Commission may finance sea rescue operations
I have commissioned a studywhich examines which legal obligations and competences the European Union has in sea rescue. This also applies to EU military operations. In addition to the basic obligation to rescue people from distress at sea, the present study sets out in legal terms that it is within the EU's sphere of competence to take more far-reaching measures to rescue people at sea. Both causes of flight and flight itself constitute humanitarian emergencies that call for humanitarian support by the EU. The EU Commission can also support and finance civilian sea rescue organisations against the will of the Member States. In this text I briefly summarize the results of the study.
Conditions in the new Moria remain undignified
The people in the new Moria will probably have to spend another winter in tents. This has been foreseeable since last October, but apparently the EU Commission is now also aware of it. Nevertheless, an evacuation that could quickly end the suffering is not yet planned. The responsible EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson visits the camps on Lesbos and Samos.
The Moria Complex
In my podcast Dickes Brett I talk to researcher Maximilian Pichl about his study "the Moria complex", the establishment of the hot spot, the EU-Turkey agreement and, above all, who is responsible for these conditions. You can listen to our conversation here.
To mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the Syrian conflict, the international community is helping with 5.3 billion euros. Of this amount, 1.7 billion euros will come from Germany. The money is to be used to finance food, medical aid and schooling for children, among other things.
EU Commission takes Poland to the ECJ
The European Commission announced today that it will refer the Polish Government to the European Court of Justice. The reason is the Polish judicial reform, which undermines the independence of Polish judges. Our Greens/EFA Group has repeatedly called on the EU Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the Polish Government for its numerous attacks on the independence of the judiciary. Here you can read the statement of Terry ReintkeTerry Reintke, shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA Group on the rule of law in Poland.
Calendar week 12/2021
European Council negotiates new refugee deal with Turkey
On Thursday and Friday the European Council in a video conference and negotiated, among other things, a continuation of the so-called EU-Turkey deal with Turkey. Nothing has been decided yet, but unfortunately the result threatens a new agreement aimed at sealing off the country instead of providing serious protection for refugees.
The Greens in the Bundestag are calling for an end to the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. In the motion of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag it says: "With the agreement with Turkey, which is in essence contrary to asylum law, the EU has accepted that the responsibility to protect refugees lies solely with Turkey – a country which, with increasing human rights violations, is itself driving people to flee."
Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament
On Monday, the meeting took place in the Committee on Internal Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs with representatives of the Portuguese Presidency, the European Commission and the European External Action Service.
The reason for this is the approach that an overarching exchange is needed in order to solve migration issues in a sustainable manner. Here, the focus is on agreements with countries of origin in order to prevent irregular migration. Countries that do not want to take back illegalised people in the EU should be punished for this, e.g. with visa restrictions. MEPs called for independent monitoring mechanisms and criticised the EU's externalisation policy, which leads to human rights violations. Some MEPs urged that agreements with Turkey and Afghanistan should not be extended under any circumstances, but this was unfortunately unsuccessful. The Commission stands by the EU-Turkey deal, even after Turkey has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention.
Afterwards, we exchanged views on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia within the subcommittee on human rights. The European External Action Service is aware that efforts to date have not been sufficient. The Commission stated that the disastrous situation in December was not unexpected and that there had been similar problems years ago. The Danish Refugee Council said there were thousands of pushbacks and some chain rejections every month. Violence at the borders was systematic. Therefore, independent monitoring mechanisms were needed and the access and work of NGOs had to be restored. You can watch the session here
China imposes sanctions on EU politicians
After the EU imposed sanctions on the Uighur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang due to human rights violations, the Chinese leadership reacted with a tit-for-tat response. On Monday, they announced sanctions against several people, including my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer, who heads the EU Parliament's China delegation.Our group chair Ska Keller says in her this statement quite clearly, "We will not be intimidated by threats from autocracies."
This week, the report on the EU-Africa strategy was voted on in plenary and adopted by a large majority. I also voted in favour of this text, which is particularly important in view of the 6th EU-AU Summit and the so-called 'post-Cotonou agreement' (partnership agreement between the ACP countries and the EU). It builds on the Commission Communication “ Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa“ of March 2020, which argues for a stronger partnership of equals around the following key issues: Green Turnaround and Access to Energy; Digital Transformation; Sustainable Growth and Jobs; Peace, Security, Good Governance and Resilience; and Migration and Mobility. The parliamentary report takes up these themes and also looks at them from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the text had to make some compromises in the area of migration, we Greens were able to achieve a good result on gender, health, water and sanitation, trade, regional integration, agro-ecology and indigenous peoples through relevant motions at committee level. You will find the final report here find.
Protests in Belarus
A meeting of the friendship groups for a democratic Belarus took place. Groups from various parliaments and people from the Belarusian opposition exchanged views here on ways of supporting the democratic movement in Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya continues to wait for the 4th sanctions list against supporters of the regime and calls for the prosecution of crimes by the regime at the international level. People on the ground report that the repression is not abating and is even getting worse. They call for swift responses to violence perpetrated by the regime. Another way in which the EU can support the Belarusian opposition is through visa facilitation and scholarship programmes. Support for political prisoners is also important. Ihar Bancer has now been released from prison and has ended his dry hunger strike. Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I sponsored a prisoner, is unfortunately still imprisoned. He has since ended his hunger strike, following a slight improvement in prison conditions. For the release of the political prisoners in Belarus you can here sign.
Calendar week 11/2021
Pioneers of Change Online Conference
Speakers at Pioneers of Change this week include Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus and Fridays For Future activist Franziska Wessel. I also gave a presentation on the benefits of democracy in the EU. The conference will run until 23.03 and you can register for the register here for free and listen to the lectures.
Five years of the EU-Turkey deal
The EU-Turkey deal was agreed five years ago. Time was bought at great cost and not used. The result was undignified mass camps like Moria and a dependence on Erdogan. Now a new version of the deal is being negotiated. In this text I have written down the background in more detail.
Frontex investigation team
On Monday, the Frontex investigation team, of which I am a member, met again. This time we asked the members of the Frontex management board about their internal investigations. According to the investigations, Frontex did almost everything right, except in one case, but they could not or would not name it specifically. In view of the many proven and well-researched cases, it is surprising what a good report Frontex gives itself in its internal investigations.
The whole meeting you can see here.
Report of the Frontex Management Boards
The Frontex Management Board has also published a preliminary report, which their read here can. Unfortunately, it is very obvious that this is not an independent report, but that the management board is trying to make Frontex look as good as possible. This goes so far as to simply adopt the reports of the Greek coastguard, according to which people on the Aegean simply voluntarily head back towards Turkey as soon as they see a Greek coastguard vessel. The report does not address fundamental rights violations, but nevertheless attempts to justify such fundamental rights violations on a legalistic level. It is not surprising that Frontex wants to present itself well after internal investigations, but the statements in this report are simply absurd and show that, unfortunately, there is no interest whatsoever in clarification.
Meeting of EU interior ministers
The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday to discuss the issues of flight and migration. They came no closer to a humane and common European refugee policy. The only thing they can all agree on is more intensive cooperation with third countries. In concrete terms: more isolation.
You can watch the press conference after the meeting watch here.
Vote on the future financing instrument for development cooperation
On Thursday, a joint meeting of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed the adoption of the new „Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe“ voted. One day earlier, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper II) had already given its approval for the Council. With a broad majority, the text will now go to plenary, probably in June or July, and will then be implemented as soon as possible. An overview can be found her here.
Calendar week 10/2021
The good news of this plenary week is that the entire EU has been declared an LGBTIQ zone. The bad news is that my three fellow MEPs from Catalonia have been stripped of their political immunity.
EU becomes LGBTIQ zone
EU becomes LGBTIQ zone The European Parliament decided this week to declare the EU an LGBTIQ zone. It is an important response to the homophobic LGBT-free zones in Poland and all the reactionaries and right-wingers in Europe who work against equality and the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, trans and intersex people.. In this video of our group it explains again why this is important.
Lifting of immunity for deputies from Catalonia
Unfortunately, the European Parliament also voted this week to lift the immunity of the three MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. Not only the conservative and right-wing groups in Parliament voted in favour of this, but also the social democrats. I think it is a great pity and wrong that my colleague and my two colleagues from Catalonia have been stripped of their immunity for obvious political reasons. They were democratically elected and a democratic solution should also be found to the Catalonia issue. The Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported on the case.
Situation in Syria
Ten years ago, on 15 March 2011, the first demonstration against the political regime in Damascus took place, following the hope of the Arab Spring for democratic change. Unfortunately, instead of democracy came war. Over 500,000 people died, millions were displaced.
At the end of March, the EU will host the fifth Brussels Conference in support of the future of Syria and the region. In this context, this plenary week there was a Pronunciation with High Representative Joseph Borrell, in addition, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 10 years of conflict in Syria.The COVID-19 crisis has further aggravated the situation. One of our core demands was the return of European children and women from the camps (Al-Hol and Roj) in north-east Syria, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we were able to push this through with an amendment.
Situation in Greece
Six months after Europe's largest refugee camp, Moria, burnt down and many promises were made that the situation would now improve, excuses continue to be sought for not complying with minimum standards and for covering up human rights violations. The European asylum policy is a policy of empty promises. The EU Commission has promised the opposite, but the temporary undignified camp on Lesbos will almost certainly still be there next winter.
Many people point out that the new asylum pact must be implemented first, but the proposal will perpetuate the problems and a decision is not to be expected this year. Waiting for the pact before helping people is like stopping playing football in the Bundesliga because you don't like the pitch yet. In Germany alone, several federal states and more than 230 municipalities want to take in more refugees. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer must end his blockade and allow them to rescue refugees from the new Moria. "In a Written question to the Commission I am seeking answers as to why the situation remains as it is. I have also in this video a brief summary of the situation.
Calendar week 09/2021
This week, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU Commissioner Ylva Johannsson were guests in the Frontex Investigation Group and I dealt intensively with the amendments to the European Asylum Procedures Regulation, on which no quick agreement is currently in sight.
Frontex investigation team
On Thursday, the first proper meeting of the Frontex investigation team took place in the European Parliament. We questioned Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri and Commissioner Ylva Johansson. Leggeri claimed that the agency had not committed any human rights violations, according to its internal investigation. Despite his testimony, he did not address the question of whether the footage and media evidence was fabricated or whether the acts listed were not illegal. We will continue our meetings to discuss with civil society, experts, journalists, member states and EU institutions before publishing our findings and recommendations. We have also successfully lobbied for the meeting to be held in public. Here you can watch the session
Criminal proceedings against Greece
I call for criminal proceedings against Greece because the government systematically violates the rights of refugees, does not comply with standards in camps and criminalises anyone who points this out or defames them with campaigns of lies. T-Online reports. Besides, I've got in this text on my blog summarizes why it is so difficult for victims to sue when their human rights are violated.
Asylum Procedure Regulation
This week was also about the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation, which is being discussed in Parliament and the Council so that both co-legislators can form their respective opinions before negotiating with each other. The German Ministry of the Interior wants compulsory procedures at the external borders because this would shift responsibility to the states at the external borders. Apart from the serious human rights concerns arising from the nature of border procedures, practical issues also divide Member States into groups with opposing views. Even if the Commission tries to focus exclusively on its reform proposals in the Pact, it could be years before negotiations are concluded. Therefore, in addition to our legislative work, we must ensure that the rules, as they currently stand, are fully respected in order to protect the right to seek asylum in the EU in safe and dignified circumstances.
The role of women in the Afghan peace process
On Friday, I organised a briefing with the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the role of women in the Afghan peace process. We were able to win two important guests for the input. Dr. Soraya Rahim Sobhrang is an Afghan women's rights activist and has been the director of Medica Afghanistan since December 2020. Fawzia Koofi is an Afghan politician, author and member of the negotiating team around the peace talks in Doha.
We are witnessing a wave of violence and attacks in Afghanistan targeting journalists, human rights defenders, civil society representatives and civil servants, which has claimed the lives of 1,200 civilians in 2020, an increase of 45 % compared to 2019. Just this week, we learned of the killing of three young female media workers in Jalalabad who were gunned down on their way back from work. These recurring attacks serve to intimidate and create a climate of fear and run counter to the aspiration for a peaceful and democratically organised state, which many Afghan women are fighting for.
In the course of the exchange, it became clear what a difficult task the negotiating team on the part of the Afghan Government is facing, not only with regard to achieving a ceasefire, but also with regard to the concrete implementation of women's rights. Even though the talks are an internal Afghan process, allies, including the EU, are needed to build up pressure and make it clear that women's rights as universal rights must be a fundamental part of a new Afghan constitution.More on the role of women in peace processes and 20 years of UN Resolution 1325 can be found here. here.
Legal migration to the EU
Blue Card, Visa, Labour Migration, Family Reunion, Relocation and Resettlement: On my blog you will now find an overview of legal migration possibilities to the EU. You can read about the possibilities of legal entry and what we Greens are calling for in order to facilitate this. here read up.
Calendar week 08/2021
This week, the Frontex working group, which was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group, met for the first time. There were also meetings of my two committees, the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs and the Committee on Development.
First meeting of the Frontex investigation team
The European Parliament's Frontex investigation group began its work on Tuesday. The working group of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex. The inquiry group was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group. I am one of 14 MEPs in the inquiry group, and unfortunately we have every reason to believe that human rights are now being systematically violated at the external borders and that Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU states are lying to the public and parliaments. You can find a report with further information on tagesschau.de.
Corona vaccines must become accessible to all people worldwide
Together with 114 other Members of the European Parliament, I have this week this letter to the Commission and the Council. We are calling on them to lobby the World Health Organisation to ensure that the patents are also made available to countries in the global south so that they can produce vaccines for their own populations.
Meeting of the Migration Group of the Home Affairs Committee
On Thursday, we discussed the new migration and asylum package with the representative of the Portuguese Presidency, Mário Pedro Magalhães, in the group working group on migration of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Here we exchanged views on the Council's position on issues such as external border procedures and instruments under the package. Portugal stands for a more progressive migration policy, so we hope to make progress towards a more humane asylum policy during the six months of the Portuguese Presidency.
The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, was invited to the Committee on Development on Thursday. The topics discussed included his recent visit to Afghanistan, the humanitarian crises in the Tigray region, the use of funds for humanitarian aid, but above all all all the areas of responsibility in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Humanitarian Airlift and the global supply of vaccines.
There is one point in particular that I will take away from this discussion: Commissioner Lenarčič also confirms that the security situation in Afghanistan is currently at a low point compared to the last two decades. Calling for an immediate ceasefire and increasing funding for humanitarian aid in the region is right and important. Why the EU is working on a new repatriation agreement with Afghanistan at the same time is beyond me. listen to it here.
On Thursday, the Mashreq delegation met. Here, current results of a Opinion poll in Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Lebanon. The result was that a clear majority is very concerned about COVID-19. In all countries, women* have suffered more from the pandemic. Corona has ensured that the basic needs of many people are no longer secured and a majority are afraid of losing their jobs this year. The results were particularly serious in Lebanon, where almost all respondents feared losing their income.
Calendar week 07/2021
Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
On Friday evening, I was a guest at a discussion of the state working group of the Greens in Saxony on the Balkan route. In preparation, I have also this homepage contribution written by explaining where the nearly €90 million that the EU has provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the care of refugees and for migration management in general has gone.
Lead exposure in the new Moria
According to Human Rights Watch, the Greek government is downplaying the risk of lead poisoning at the new Moria. The camp was built on a former shooting range. So apparently, on top of the many risks, there is also the risk of lead poisoning. Read more at Human Rights Watch. With other deputies I have already on 23 December submitted a written question on the subject to the CommissionUnfortunately, we have still not received a reply, even though the Commission is supposed to reply within six weeks.
On Thursday, I attended an event organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation to present a recent publication called „Climate Justice and Migration – Mobility, Development, and Displacement in the Global South“. As the global climate crisis advances, more and more questions about related mobility are emerging. There is as yet no international legal framework that provides protection for people who have to leave their homes due to climate change. In my speech, I looked at the issue from an EU perspective and formulated a number of recommendations for action, such as increased financial support for projects aimed at helping populations affected by climate change to build resilience, but also changes to the legal framework. Ultimately, however, it should be noted that without genuine political will, little will be achieved. You can also download the publication free of charge or order it as a book here.
Right to abortion in Poland
On October 22, 2020, the Polish Constitutional Court, composed of illegally appointed judges, declared abortion for fetal malformations unconstitutional. This politically motivated decision represents yet another attack on the rule of law in Poland. The ruling results in a near total ban on abortion, as 97.6 % of legal abortions in Poland in 2019 were performed for fetal malformation. To this end, we have MEPs from the Greens/EFA group a question to the Commission posed. In iIn its reply, the Commission saidthat it is up to the Member States to determine health policy. Therefore, unfortunately, we do not expect the Commission to take any prompt action on the right to abortion in Poland.
On Wednesday, I attended the parliamentary delegation meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Here, the Secretary-General of the UfM spoke and welcomed the current EU Presidency of the UfM. The EU's core objective is to combat the climate crisis. Climatic changes must be combated, as the Mediterranean region is warming faster than the rest of the world and harbours a large part of the world's biodiversity. At the same time, this is where the greatest extinction of species is occurring. In addition to climate change, pollution, fishing and tourism are also major threats to Mediterranean nature.
Calendar week 06/2021
This week, the EU Parliament voted in favour of my report on procedures at the EU's external borders and a right to repair for citizens. My work was also dominated by discussions on Frontex and with the Belarusian opposition, as well as the humanitarian emergencies in Yemen and Tigray.
Parliament votes in favour of my report on border procedures
The European Parliament has voted by a large majority in favour of my implementation report on procedures at the EU's external borders. This is a clear signal from Parliament for respect for the rule of law and human dignity in the asylum system. I am very pleased that I was able to push this position through as rapporteur.Further information to the report you can find here.
Parliament votes for right to repair
Parliament also voted in favour of a report on the circular economy action plan, on which my party colleague Anna Cavazzini has been working. It is about the right to repair, so that people can use products for longer instead of having to throw them away or replace them. That is consumer and environmentally friendly. MEPs from the Greens, Left and SPD all voted in favour of the report. The AfD, CDU/CSU and FDP MEPs all voted against. In this video it is explained again exactly, where problems currently lie and how we envisage a circular economy in the future.
Interviews on accusations against Frontex
Opposition members in Belarus continue to be detained
In November I took over a sponsorship for Dzmitry Furmanau, who was arrested in May 2020 during an election rally for Tsikhanouskaya. He is accused of organising mass unrest and is one of over 200 political prisoners in Belarus and, like many of them, is currently facing trial. In a friendly meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a cross-party and informal group discussed measures to support the democracy movement. Tsikhanouskaya stressed that the people of Belarus are waiting for action from the EU and that any initiative would be helpful. Specifically, they are calling for an up-to-date sanctions list and new elections in Belarus.
Impact of Brexit on flight, migration and development cooperation
On my homepage I have written reports on how the Brexit affects the issues I focus on in Parliament. Since 01.01.21, the freedom of movement between the EU and the UK has been severely restricted and they are now considered as respective third countries. Here you will learn, why this is a problem especially for asylum seekers and their families. In addition, Boris Johnson's government has announced that it will drastically reduce the UK's budget for development cooperation. You can read more about it here in my text.
Resolution on the war in Yemen
In response to the recent debate on the situation in Yemen in the Committee on Development, I, together with a number of other Members, secured a resolution on this issue, which was adopted by a large majority on Thursday. In order to fundamentally improve the humanitarian situation, better access for aid deliveries and more funds alone are not enough. The security situation must urgently improve and the country must return to peace. This can also be influenced by the Member States. In view of the repeated violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the European Parliament calls in the resolution, among other things, for an EU-wide ban on arms exports to parties involved in the conflict, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Member States are called upon to urgently stop arms deliveries in order not to further fuel the conflict. You can read my speech on Yemen here listen up.
Humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region
Ethiopia has also been in a humanitarian crisis since the outbreak of the conflict over the Tigray region four months ago. Aid organisations have only very difficult access to the areas, the situation is very unclear and the violation of human rights is on the agenda. In particular, the alleged involvement of Eritrean soldiers in the fighting needs urgent clarification. While the EU has been withholding funds to the Ethiopian Government since December, Member States, including Germany, continue to cooperate. If the EU wants to play a strong foreign policy role, joint action is urgently needed here. Here you will find the link to my speech on the current situation.
Calendar week 05/2021
This week I have again been involved with Frontex and will in future be part of a working group of the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. I also gave a green assessment of the Brexit for the European asylum system and also conducted longer interviews, which you can read and listen to.
European Parliament Home Affairs Committee sets up Frontex monitoring group
Together with Tineke Strik from the Dutch GroenLinks, I have been sent by our group to be part of the working group on Frontex. We will start our work by examining the role of the agency in the pushbacks, about which the mirror and other media reported at the end of last year. In order to enable the group to work efficiently, but also to ensure transparency, there will be monthly reporting to the Home Affairs Committee, as well as cooperation with the working group on Schengen, which monitors the EU's internal and external borders.
Info on the accusations against Frontex can be found here.
A green assessment of Brexit
On Thursday evening, the German Greens in the European Parliament in a webinar, an assessment of the Brexit delivered. I also gave a short presentation on the consequences of Brexit for the issues of flight and migration. Since 01.01.21 the EU and Great Britain are considered as respective third countries. Thus, EU citizens are no longer preferred, for example, in the allocation of jobs. An agreement Protects the rights of people with EU or UK citizenship who already live, work or study in the UK or EU. A new, Points-based migration system regulates labour migration to the UK from now on, with professional specialisation being decisive for the granting of residence permits. The UK's withdrawal from the Dublin Agreement and lack of alternative agreements are particularly problematic for unaccompanied minor refugees, who now have limited hope of family reunification with relatives living in the UK.
My district association Treptow-Köpenick nominates candidates for the election of the House of Representatives
In my Berlin district association Treptow-Köpenick the votes for the state list of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives were awarded this week. I am pleased that with Cathrin Wahlen and Jacob Zellmer two committed people from the district association were nominated and wish them every success for the further application.
Talk with NDR Redezeit
On Thursday evening, I was a guest on NDR's Talk Time, where I spoke about the plight of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and on the Greek islands. You can listen to the conversation here.
Interview with Krautreporter
I did a long interview with Krautreporter, in which it is very fundamentally about what a more humane asylum policy in Europe fails. You can read the long interview here.
Asylum Procedure Regulation (APR)
This week, the Portuguese Presidency has held several meetings with Parliament. We MEPs who are working on the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation (APR) were able to discuss the progress and timetable envisaged by the Council with the chairman of the Council's asylum working group.
It is a very important sign from the Council that they are also examining the Commission's proposals, which contain several difficult and legally problematic changes to the APR. The proposal of compulsory border procedures at the EU's external borders divides the Member States. Some want to keep the procedures, others see it as dumping the challenges on the Member States at the external borders.
Calendar week 04/2021
(DE) Mr President, this week, I have once again been intensively involved with Frontex and the current situation in Greece. It is a great success that, at our request, a body of the European Parliament is now looking into the allegations against Frontex.
European Parliament investigates Frontex development in pushbacks
A Frontex working group of the Home Affairs Committee will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex, MEPs on the committee agreed today. The working group will look into allegations of illegal "pushbacks" against refugees.
We have been calling for this for months. It is an important step on the road to the rule of law at the European external borders. The serious allegations of human rights violations at the EU's external borders must be clarified. The extensive evidence of illegal activities by state actors has shown that pushbacks at the external borders are not an isolated incident. It is important that the European Parliament and the EU Commission also investigate and sanction breaches of the law by Member States. Furthermore, mechanisms need to be developed to re-establish independent human rights monitoring at the borders.
Frontex and national authorities like the Federal Police are not above the law. The many officers on duty also deserve to no longer receive unlawful instructions and to be allowed to speak openly about violations of the law.
Frontex stops work at Hungarian border
Frontex is ceasing its activities in Hungary because the agency would risk engaging in lawbreaking there. However, they want to remain active in Greece, where Frontex has been proven to have broken the law. More background on the decision can be found in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Hearing on the situation of protection seekers on the Greek islands
On Wednesday the head of the EU Commission task force Beate Gminder was a guest in the interior committee. She gave an overview of the situation of the camps on the Greek islands and the planning of new structures. Spyros-Vlad Oikonomou from the Greek Council of Refugees was invited as a representative of those seeking protection. While the Commission and the Greek government spoke of having made a lot of progress, Oikonomou stressed that this progress had in no way contributed to an improvement in living conditions. The health, psychological and also legal situation of the protection seekers is worse than before. The „progress“ of the Commission consists in the transfer of recognized protection seekers to Athens, where they are driven into homelessness. At the same time, living conditions in all camps continue to be inhumane. Unfortunately, the Commission continues to evade MEPs' questions. Also this week's Answer received to my question to the Commission is insufficient. A Summary of the committee meeting can be found here.
Freedom of the press in Iraq
As a member of the Iraq delegation. wrote a letter to the Kurdish prime minister of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Masrour Barzani. He had called for the release of freelance journalist Sherwan Sherwani. The latter disappeared in October last year and has been in custody ever since, where, according to Reporters Without Borders, he was forced to confess under torture.
Humanitarian situation in Yemen
The humanitarian situation in Yemen was discussed in the Committee on Development this week. Yemen is now in the sixth year of civil war and, despite numerous warnings from humanitarian actors, is heading for one of the worst famines ever known. The health system is overburdened and the COVID-19 outbreak is making the situation even worse. The international donor community, including the EU, is falling far short of set funding schemes, with money not getting to where it is needed. One of Donald Trump's latest official acts, putting the Huthi on the US terror list, further complicates aid delivery. The suspicion arises that EU funds only flow quickly and reliably when many people from a region try to flee to Europe. And because almost no one from Yemen makes it to Europe, the issue unfortunately doesn't seem to be a priority for everyone.
Until a solution to the conflict is in sight, every effort must be made to avoid a famine and to support the civilian population as best as possible. Here you can watch the debate in the Development Committee.
Calendar week 03/2021
In the first plenary week of the year, I gave a speech on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and also wrote an overview of how the current situation came about. We also voted against Nord Stream 2 and are working on a global vaccination strategy.
My speech in Parliament
In my speech, I drew attention to the EU's complicity in the untenable conditions for refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. EU governments and the European Commission must not continue to shrug off the humanitarian disaster at the EU's external borders. We must help those who are experiencing a cold winter on the Bosnian border in terrible, dangerous conditions; we must help those who are experiencing the same situation in the Greek hotspots. Having discussed this issue time and time again in the European Parliament, we now need to see action. We Greens/EFA call for a committee of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations, to put an end to illegal practices and to clarify the involvement of the EU border agency Frontex and national authorities.
Current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
I have written in this text on my homepage an overview of how it is on the serious situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina could come about. The Bosnian authorities share responsibility for this, but it is mainly the fault of the Commission and the Member States. It must be borne in mind that most of the people who are suffering have been in the EU before, and the EU cannot therefore simply shrug off responsibility.
Plenary debate on the global vaccination strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic
There is broad agreement that the common, solidarity-based European approach to vaccine procurement was and is the right one. The development of effective and safe vaccines in less than a year is a major achievement and an important step towards combating the pandemic. The German go-it-alone approach to securing additional vaccine doses has been - rightly – viewed very critically. Another problem is the lack of transparency and disclosure of the contracts concluded between the EU Commission and pharmaceutical companies. Referring to secrecy clauses here undermines the important control function of the European Parliament.
I am also concerned with the question of how to ensure that vaccination campaigns can also start on time in countries of the global south. Relying on the functioning of the COVAX facility to do this is not thinking far enough, in my opinion. Only an additional temporary lifting of patent rights – as called for in the campaign led by South Africa and India – can grant sufficient and cost-effective production of enough vaccine doses for all in a timely manner. Unfortunately, this effort is currently being blocked by the US and the EU. My goal in the coming weeks is to work with my colleagues in the Green Group to take this issue to a higher level and hopefully get the ball rolling. I will publish a more detailed blog entry about it here soon. In the meantime, you are welcome to watch the plenary debate here listen and find here a very good explanation of the idea of suspending patent rights, produced by Doctors Without Borders.
Vote on Nord Stream 2
The EU Parliament joined with a large majority in our demand for a construction stop for Nord Stream 2. The German MEPs in our group are the only ones to vote unanimously against Nord Stream 2.
Many MEPs from the Union and SPD voted in favour of Nord Stream 2, even though their groups in the European Parliament were also against it. This is also a great success for my colleague Sergei Lagondinsky, who negotiated the immediate stop into the parliamentary bill.
Dozens killed in boat accident off Libya
People are still dying at Europe's borders. This week, too, there was another shipwreck off the coast of the town of Zuwara, in north-west Libya. It claimed the lives of 43 people.
Calendar week 02/2021
I have been particularly busy this week with my report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders, my committees and the global distribution of vaccines. The situation of refugees in Bosnia and Greece is also currently absolutely unacceptable and must be improved quickly.
My report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders
At the first meeting of the Home Affairs Committee this year, a broad majority my own-initiative report on the implementation of asylum procedures at the EU's external borders adopted. This ability to compromise on the part of Parliament leads me to look forward to good cooperation in future negotiations on the dossiers. of the Asylum and Migration Pact hope.
Schengen and human rights at the EU's external borders
This week marked the start of strategic thinking around the reform of the Schengen rules and the evaluation mechanism. Border controls at the Schengen internal borders are a problem because they should not actually exist. But so are the numerous, systemic, and serious human rights violations at the EU's external borders. I will advocate that any evaluation of Schengen should also include an evaluation of the activities of the Member States at the external borders and that Parliament should exert pressure on the Commission to take action against such serious human rights violations.
Situation in Lebanon and Northern Syria
On Thursday, the Committee on Development discussed, among other things, the humanitarian situation in Syria and Lebanon. The combination of the economic crisis, political instability and the lack of government, the Corona pandemic and the effects of the explosion in Beirut port have led to a worrying situation in Lebanon. Lebanon has hosted the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and their care is becoming increasingly difficult due to the current situation. The additional aid funds recently announced by the Commission are therefore urgently needed.
The situation of the two million internally displaced persons in northern Syria has also deteriorated further with the onset of winter, and the corona pandemic has not stopped there either. Humanitarian aid is very difficult, as access to the border regions is in part impossible and aid supplies cannot therefore be delivered. Here, too, the EU is called upon to exert pressure so that the aid can reach the people. You can watch the session here.
For a solidary distribution of the vaccine worldwide
Together with other Members, I have co-signed a letter to the Commission and the Council calling for a solidarity-based distribution of vaccines worldwide and, in this context, also pointing out the EU's responsibility towards economically less strong regions. For we can only overcome this pandemic if we combat the virus globally.. You can find the letter on the homepage of my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer.
Situation in Greece and Bosnia worsens
The situation in the camps at the Greek external borders is getting worse and worse. This week the new camp on Lesbos was once again flooded by heavy rains. In the middle of the week, a winter storm passed over the island and, with winds of up to 80 km/h, caused individual tents and a whole series of toilet containers to be knocked over. Contrary to the assurances of the Greek authorities and the European Commission, there are no facilities to protect people from the wind or heavy rain. In the camp, which is located on an unprotected headland, there are around 7200 people seeking protection.
In Bosnia, 2000 people are trying not to freeze to death in the snow and cold in the forest. The burnt-down Lipa camp is considered uninhabitable despite new tents – and the municipalities are blocking aid. All attempts by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to build new camps failed due to the resistance of the municipalities.
Calendar week 51/2020
This week I have been intensively involved with the situation on Lesbos, where the camp was completely under water. The German Presidency, in particular Horst Seehofer, have shown that they have achieved nothing in terms of a common European refugee policy and the ECJ ruled that Hungary's asylum rules violate EU law.
Interview with Die Zeit on Lesbos
On Tuesday I met with Ulrich Ladurner from the time about whether the photos from Lesbos are actually wanted and what Greece and the EU want to achieve with these photos. You can read the whole conversation read here.
Meeting with Human Rights Watch on the situation in Lesbos
I attended a meeting with Human Rights Watch on Monday. It was about a report about the risk of lead poisoning in the new Moria. The location on a former military training ground entails great risks for people's health. It is important to get the people out of this camp and to accommodate them in a humane way and in accordance with EU law.
EU Council of Interior Ministers
The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday, to discuss the Commission's proposal for a European migration and asylum pact. The German Council Presidency's strategy has failed. It wanted to force a European solution by demanding that the suffering at the external borders only be eliminated by European consensus. Now we continue to have suffering, chaos and violence against those seeking protection, but still no solution. If you want to reach the finish line at some point, you can't always wait for those chaining themselves at the starting point. Especially if you've been waiting for over 5 years. All Horst Seehofer has to show for EU asylum policy, is a progress report without progress. The member states continue to disagree on key points. The German Council Presidency has made no progress towards a common European asylum system. Instead, we are facing another winter of unheated tents and illegal violence by the authorities against those seeking protection. In order to put an end to these undignified conditions, we don't need a new pact, but rather the enforcement of EU law. It needs member states to step forward and show that we won't let protection seekers freeze to death or be put down in Europe because we haven't yet found consensus in warm offices."
ECJ ruling: Hungarian asylum rules violate EU law
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared the actions of Viktor Orbán's right-wing nationalist government illegal. There should be no deportations without a case-by-case examination, according to the ruling from Luxembourg. In an interview with the RND I said: „Some EU states have set up a system of disenfranchisement and mistreatment of protection seekers under the guise of border protection. Countries like Greece and Croatia must finally feel the pressure of the EU Commission. If the EU is not indifferent to human rights, then it needs infringement proceedings by the Commission and also a German government that no longer glosses over the chaos at the external borders;
This week in Parliament, we finalised an important own-initiative report on the implementation of border procedures in the context of the Asylum Procedures Directive. The text highlights the difficulties that asylum seekers face when they enter a border procedure, where their fundamental and procedural rights are often violated. It is good to see that despite differing political views on asylum and migration, MEPs can respect the EU's core human rights principles and find a compromise by applying an evidence-based approach to their decision-making. In preparation for the upcoming negotiations on the Asylum and Migration Pact, the recently concluded European Parliament implementation reports, including mine on border procedures, will help in formulating our negotiating positions on upholding the fundamental right to asylum.
Calendar week 50/2020
(DE) Mr President, this week, we are all pleased that we have a result in the dispute over the rule of law mechanism, even if we are not entirely satisfied with the compromise. On the other hand, I have a success to report on the AMIF, the financial instrument in the EU through which funds are allocated for asylum, migration and integration.
Agreement on rule of law mechanism
After months of the governments in Poland and Hungary blackmailing the EU because they would not accept a rule of law mechanism, an agreement has now been reached. This is important for the economic recovery after this tough Corona year 2020. The agreement is a last-second compromise that includes a rule of law mechanism that is not perfect but is a start, especially in the fight against corruption. We regret that the EU will have to wait for the ruling of the European Court of Justice before imposing sanctions and that the rule of law mechanism will not apply as early as next year, while violations of the rule of law continue. The European Parliament was united behind a stronger rule of law mechanism, while the Council, led by Germany and Angela Merkel, was opposed. You can find more information on the topic on the homepage of my party friend Ska Keller.
Thanks to the compromising mood of the Council and Parliament, this week was the last round of negotiations on the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the next budget. AMIF is an important financial instrument because the funds are used to provide concrete assistance to refugees. The Greens have been campaigning for the funds to be allocated directly to regional and local authorities involved in integration, and it is a success for us that this allocation has made it into the final text. We are also pleased that the Member States are obliged to allocate at least 15 % of their national programmes to legal migration and integration and to the implementation of the Common European Asylum System. In this way, countries that are less concerned about hospitality must also play their part if they are to benefit from EU funds. The third victory for us is the 20 % target linked to solidarity. This ensures that the Commission has a vested interest in motivating Member States to commit to resettlement places so that they can meet the target. All in all, we are quite satisfied with the political agreement.
Funds for Afghanistan
This week, the World Bank reported to the Afghanistan delegation in the EP on how Afghanistan is developing. Two weeks earlier, the Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan took place. The Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan was an important event where the international community, including the EU and Member States, came together to pledge financial support to Afghanistan for the next four years.
While the World Bank's assessment is largely positive, the donor countries have raised particular concerns about the stalled peace process, corruption and increasing poverty and violence. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking more closely at where EU funds are going, how they are being used and how the flow of money can be made more transparent. At the Afghanistan conference, pledges of USD 12-13 billion were made for the period 2021-24. The result represents a drop of up to 20 percent from the 15.2 billion pledged four years ago for 2017-20 and is well below UNDP projections for the country's needs. In addition, some countries, including the United States as the largest donor, have not made their pledges for the entire four-year period.
This week, the post-Cotonou negotiations were on the agenda: this is the successor agreement to the Cotonou Agreement, which has been in force since 2003, between 79 ACP countries and the EU, which regulated fundamental cooperation in various areas such as the economy and trade, but also development cooperation. After more than two years of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached on 2 December, and on Wednesday an exchange took place with the EU Commissioner for Development Cooperation, Jutta Urpilainen, who was sitting at the negotiating table on behalf of the EU.So far, we do not have a final version of the new agreement from Parliament, which still has to be confirmed by Parliament before it can actually enter into force. In my view, three crucial points will be important: the wording on migration and, in this context, readmission agreements and conditionality, the compromises reached on the subject of sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) and the future parliamentary formulation.
Calendar week 49/2020
Hearing of the head of Frontex in the European Parliament
On Tuesday, Fabrice Leggeri was invited to the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs, of which I am also a member. We were expecting some answers to questions about the involvement of his border agency, Frontex, in serious human rights violations. Unfortunately, Mr Leggeri preferred to beat about the bush, deflect and not answer most of our questions. Leggeri only received positive feedback from right-wing MPs, who described his actions as „heroic“. The MEPs of democratic parties were visibly disappointed by the behaviour of the head of Frontex at the hearing. He lied about one of the pushback executions.... My group and I are now calling for a committee of inquiry to be set up in the European Parliament. You can watch the whole hearing here ...look at it. You can find my question if you set 14:37:10 in the timeline.
Interview with RBB-Inforadio on human rights violations at the external borders
People are abandoned at sea, stolen from and abused. And people are hibernating in camps in unheated tents. These illegal and serious human rights violations by the Member States, but also by Frontex, must stop immediately. I talked about that with the RBB-Inforadio.
Letter to CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht
The MEPs Anna Cavazzini and Ska Keller and I jointly have a European office in Magdeburg, which means that we are also responsible for communicating European values in Saxony-Anhalt. Unfortunately, the CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht seems to lack political education, otherwise I cannot explain that he wanted to dissolve a democratic government because of the broadcasting fees in order to make common cause with fascists. As a service-oriented member of parliament, I have therefore sent him a Basic Law and I really hope that he will also read it.
Deputy medical officer accuses AfD city councillor of discrimination
In my constituency of Treptow-Köpenick, the deputy chief medical officer... Denis Hedeler accuses his employer, AfD city councillor Bernd Geschanowski, of discrimination. Denis Hedeler comes from Cuba, is black and married to a man. He has cared for refugees for years and was active for Doctors Without Borders. He now wants to sue because he feels discriminated against on racist grounds. I had a long conversation with him and will continue to follow the case.
Calendar week 48/2020
This week, I have been dealing a lot with money. It is about how the EU will allocate funds in future in the areas of asylum and migration and also in development cooperation. Unfortunately, however, the right-wing populist governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the future EU budget because they have no desire to abide by the rules of the rule of law.
Frontex involved in human rights violations
Frontex claims to have no information on illegal pushbacks. Internal documents now prove otherwise. It looks like the EU agency is covering up human rights abuses by lying. Next Tuesday the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, will be in the EU Parliament and must face our questions. But it would fall short to attack him alone. It is obvious that the violations of the law at the external borders of EU states – including Germany – have been covered up.
The European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund
The so-called AMIF is the EU's main financial instrument in the areas of asylum, migration and integration. A major negotiating success this week is that solidarity is retained as an objective of the fund. At present, it is still being discussed how much money from this fund can be used in third countries. I am in favour of these monies being spent within the EU. Unfortunately, it also happens time and again that the fund is misused or that the allocation of funds is not sufficiently controlled. For example, Croatia has received over €108 million from this fund since 2017, which is used to pay for border protection and many border officials. Nevertheless, serious human rights violations occur systematically and regularly at the border.
Right to abortion in Poland
The illegitimate Polish Constitutional Court declared abortions de facto unconstitutional and thus illegal. For us, it is clear that the right to sexual self-determination is non-negotiable. A clear majority of the parliament passed a resolution clearly condemning this action. More on this topic can be found on the Homepage of my party friend Terry Reintke, who is shadow rapporteur for the report on the rule of law in Poland.
Hungary and Poland block EU budget
The governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the EU budget and the much-needed Corona recovery funds. This is somewhat absurd because the two countries are the largest net recipients in the EU and at the same time very badly affected by the corona pandemic. The right-wing populists in Budapest and Warsaw are upset about a rule of law mechanism that is to be linked to the allocation of funds in future. But Orbán and Morawiecki don't want that because it would interfere with them further eroding the rule of law. You can read more on this topic at the Homepage of my party friend Rasmus Andresen.
Report on the allocation of funds in development cooperation
With a total of 74.4 billion in 2018 the EU and the member states are by far the largest donors in international development cooperation. They account for 57% of the world's funds. The European Parliament draws up a report on the use of the funds and, in my group, I am the person responsible for this report. What is particularly controversial here is the question of whether the issues of development cooperation and migration should be mixed up. My group and I are opposed to tying the allocation of funds to political demands such as the prevention of migration. The money should be allocated according to development policy criteria and not according to which state is prepared to pay money to prevent migration and flight. Actually, we had found a good compromise on this issue in Parliament – even with the conservative EPP. Unfortunately, the EPP torpedoed our work and weakened Parliament's position by voting together with right-wing populist and extreme right-wing parties to tie the money to the prevention of migration and flight in the future as well. Particularly at a time when parties like the CDU and CSU are stressing that they have nothing to do with the AfD, it is a great pity that they seem to prefer working with right-wing populists in Brussels on many issues rather than with democrats.
Calendar week 47/2020
This week I have been working intensively on systematic human rights violations at the EU's external borders and on a report on asylum procedures at the external borders. I also hope that the lawsuit brought by the Land of Berlin against Horst Seehofer will be successful.
The state of Berlin sues the Federal Ministry of the Interior
The state of Berlin is suing the Federal Ministry of the Interior so that Berlin can finally take in refugees. The lawsuit is promising. You can find more info about this in the Press release of the Berlin state government. I also have a Expert opinion on the land survey which proves that Seehofer is not allowed to refuse his consent for the admission so easily.
Serious human rights violations at the Croatian external border
Systematic and brutal violence at the Croatian external EU border has been documented for over three years. So far, the Croatian government denies that these illegal pushbacks are taking place at all. Now Der Spiegel publishes a video that proves the practice beyond doubt. A comprehensive Video analysis is available on Youtube. I have tagesschau.de on the subject gave a short interview and prepared a question to the Commission, which more than two dozen MEPs from four different political groups, Greens, Left, Socialists and Liberals, will table jointly.
My report on asylum procedures at EU external borders
I have the lead adopted for a report on the application of border procedures in the Member States. The report evaluates how border procedures under Article 43 of the Asylum Procedures Directive are implemented in the Member States. We Greens had suggested the report so that Parliament would have an evidence-based basis for the negotiations on the Pact. My report makes it clear that border procedures are highly problematic and therefore recommends that they should not be used. We are now in compromise negotiations with the other groups on a common position. An important scientific basis for this report is this very readable study by the EP's scientific service on the implementation of border procedures in the Member States.
Anti-torture committee raises allegations against Greece
Poor conditions in camps, inhumane treatment, illegal refoulement: The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee makes strong accusations against Greece. I have commented on the systematic and coordinated pushbacks by the Greek authorities... a parliamentary question submitted to the Commission. The Commission replied that „it is primarily the national authorities who are responsible for the proper transposition and application of EU law“. The Commission is not fulfilling its role as guardian of the Treaties. Moreover, the Commission continues to speak of pushbacks in the subjunctive – as if these were not already sufficient and proven by serious investigative journalists.
Conference on Migration and Flight
On Thursday I was an active participant in a conference in which we discussed the future of European migration and refugee policy. Among the participants were the President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble. In addition, the responsible Commissioner Ylva Johansson and the German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. I spoke there about the clear deficiencies in the implementation of border procedures, about which I also I wrote a report. The mayors of Lampedusa and Mytilini also criticised that the new pact would not bring an end to the mass camps on the islands and at the external borders.
On Friday, I was at the NDICI trialogue. Trialogue means that Parliament, the Council and the Commission talk and negotiate with each other. NDICI stands for Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument. A great deal of money is at stake here. Specifically around € 71.8 billion for the coming years. My focus in these negotiations is on ensuring that funds for development cooperation are allocated according to development policy criteria. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency for years to link the distribution of funds with migration management. One could also say that states get money for preventing migration and flight. Parliament tends to be on my side on the issues, but the Member States tend not to be. No agreement has been reached here yet.
Calendar week 43/2020
The pandemic situation did not allow this plenary week to take place in Strasbourg, so it took place again, largely digitally, in Brussels.Two of the priorities of our Greens/EFA Group were the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and Gender justice in foreign and security policy. Other positions and focal points of our Group can be found here.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
Agricultural subsidies make up the largest item in the EU budget at almost €387 billion, but CAP reforms are incompatible with the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategyand the Greens/EFA Group called on Parliament to reject the proposal. Despite urgent messages from Luisa Neubauer and Greta Thunberg and various civil society voices, a coalition of liberals, social democrats/socialists and conservatives voted with a two-thirds majority in favour of the reforms, thus initiating a change that is completely out of step with necessary steps to avert climate catastrophe. Thus, 60% of the budget is still barely tied to conditions and only 30% of the direct payment budget is tied to woolly "eco-schemes" instead of formulating clear environmental conditions.
Moreover, the votes were accompanied by gross procedural blunders, so that many MEPs did not have the relevant voting documents in translation until the morning of the vote. All that remains now is to hope that the European Commission follows through on its promise of the Green Deal and overturns the CAP reforms.
For a clear and passionate classification I recommend the speech of the Green MP Martin Häusling.
Gender justice in foreign and security policy
Parliament voted in favour of a resolution on gender equality in foreign and security policy. This calls for an intersectional and feminist approach to EU foreign policy. For example, the resolution dictates the goal of filling 50% management positions in the European External Action Service with women, as well as the final ratification of the Istanbul Convention in all EU member states. These goals are based primarily on the under-representation of women in such leading bodies, which leads to a perpetual cycle of violence against women and minorities.