Question: Does the EU support closed mass camps in Greece?

On 28.5.2021 the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a tender for the construction of the planned new "multi-purpose reception and identification centres" on Lesvos and Chios. A total of €142 million will be allocated for this purpose. The tender explicitly mentions that these are "closed, controlled structures", which will be 100 % financed with European Union funds.However, the EU Commission has promised that the camps will be open. That is why I have drafted a question to the EU Commission on this matter.. The EU Commission repliedthat they will be open centres in accordance with EU law. The Commission claims the EU-funded camps will be open, the Greek Government says they will be closed. The Commission also says that there have been „significant improvements in terms of water, sanitation, electricity, ballasting and preparation for winter and repair“ . In addition, he said, the Greek government had promised that no one would have to freeze in the camps during the winter. During my last visit two weeks ago, the Mavrovouni camp was still a construction site. I very much hope that the Greek government will keep its promise and that this year, for the first time since 2015, no one will have to freeze in tents.

My request

Subject: Invitation to tender issued by the Greek Ministry of Migration for the construction of closed camps on Lesvos and Chios

On 28.5.2021, the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a tender for the construction of the planned new "multi-purpose reception and identification centres" on Lesvos and Chios. A total of EUR 142 million will be allocated for this purpose. The tender explicitly mentions that these will be "closed, controlled structures", 100 % of which will be financed with European Union funds. It is also explicitly mentioned that the planned projects will be a direct implementation of EASO standards. The time to completion of the project prescribed in the call for tender is 8 months from the signature of the contract. Accordingly, completion this year seems impossible. Moreover, the resistance on the islands has already prevented any construction progress on Lesbos more than a year ago.

1.What is the current timetable of the Joint Steering Committee regarding the completion of the camps on the islands? the tender incorrect and needs to be corrected or is EU money now being used to build closed warehouses?

3. minimum standards of the Reception Directive continue not to be met in the 'temporary' Mavrovouni camp. How does the Commission justify the fact that, once again next winter, people seeking protection in Europe will have to spend the winter in tents in an undignified camp, despite the fact that promises have been made every year since 2015 to put an end to these conditions?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 23/07/2021

The Commission works through a special task force is working intensively with the Greek authorities to create new multifunctional reception and identification centres on Lesvos and Chios. The construction process of the new facilities is intensively monitored, including through monthly Steering Committee meetings. The tendering process for the new centres on Lesvos and Chios is currently underway.

The Commission has allocated€ 155 million for the establishment of new centres on the islands of Lesvos and Chios. In line with EU law, these will be open centres, subject to the necessary and proportionate access arrangements. They will comprise different areas, including reception and identification structures for new arrivals, accommodation facilities, secure areas for unaccompanied children and young people, recreational areas and removal facilities. Deportation facilities for persons subject to a return order will be closed areas. Persons accommodated in the other areas will be able to enter and leave the premises via an access system with special badges.

Thanks to the joint efforts of the Greek authorities, the Commission and the EU agencies, conditions at the temporary reception facility in Mavrovouni have improved significantly, in particular as regards water, sanitation, electricity, ballasting and preparation for winter and repairs. However, Mavrovouni remains a temporary accommodation facility. The Greek authorities have assured the Commission that no one will spend another winter in tents at Mavrovouni.

Question: Construction of walls around Greek refugee camps

The Greek government is building more and more walls around the mass camps. This separates the refugees from the local population and the camps look more and more like prisons. That is why I together with other Members, asked the Commissionwhat its position is on the construction and whether it will be supported by EU funds. The Commission replies insisted that it supported the construction because it would improve the safety of residents and employees. The commission also recommended a „mixed solution“ of concrete walls and wire mesh fences. After many visits to different camps, I am not convinced by this rationale because most refugees feel confined by the walls and not better protected. Moreover, Greek government officials also openly say that the walls serve to separate the refugees from the population.

My request

Subject: Construction of walls around Greek refugee camps

When the residents of the Ritsona refugee camp in Greece woke up on 4 May 2021, they found that a three-metre-high concrete wall of the type used by the military had been built around their accommodation. This is to separate the 3,000 refugees there from the local population, although the camp is far from Greek towns. According to an advertisement on the Greek website the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 7 000 refugees in three other camps will be treated in the same way. The wall is being built with funds from the Commission's programme to 'assist the Greek authorities in the management of the national system for the reception of asylum-seekers and migrants in need of protection'. The aim of this programme is actually to promote educational measures and contacts with the locals as part of the integration process. Walls achieve exactly the opposite, as bricklayers serve to separate. They turn the refugee camps into de facto prisons, and the refugees' mental health deteriorates considerably as a result. Against this background, the Commission is asked to answer the following questions:

Is the Commission aware of these developments? If so, does it support the construction of concrete walls to enclose Greek refugee camps? Is this construction work in line with the EU's values and objectives and the above programme?

What amount of EU funding is being made available for the construction of concrete walls in Ritsona and other Greek refugee camps?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 06/07/2021

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is implementing the EU-funded emergency project "Support to the Greek authorities in the management of the national system for the reception of asylum seekers and migrants in need of protection", which covers, inter alia, the establishment and operational needs of reception centres in mainland Greece. The project includes the construction or maintenance of fences at the Diavata, Ritsona, Malakasa and Nea Kavala sites, as required by the Greek authorities, aimed at improving the safety of residents and staff.

The Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) were consulted on the technical specifications before the fences were built. The fencing must take into account a number of parameters, in particular fire protection, natural light, non-obstruction of visibility and sufficient distance from the accommodation units. A mixed solution will be implemented, alternating concrete and wire mesh fencing.

The amount contracted for the implementation of the overall project is around EUR 180 million for the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021, of which around EUR 9 million is for works at the centres (including cleaning, maintenance, repairs and fencing).

On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees lies dying

Tomorrow we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GRC). The Refugee Convention is the most important document for the protection of refugees. A total of 149 states have signed up to it. But in the meantime it has become increasingly obvious that Europe is using force to close itself off instead of helping people in need. This is out of touch with history and a breach of the principles of the rule of law and human rights.

People are drowning at our external borders, even though we could save them. People are abandoned on the open sea and tortured because they want to apply for asylum. The EU pays Islamist militias to drag refugees back to Libya. Pushbacks are carried out by EU states. There have been shootings of refugees from Greece. It is hypocritical for EU governments to celebrate the birthday of the Refugee Convention, because at the EU's external borders they have chosen to replace refugee rights with violent closure.

The CSF emerged from the lessons of the Second World War

When the Geneva Convention on Refugees was adopted 70 years ago, people wanted to take responsibility for those seeking protection after the terrible experiences of the Second World War. We wanted to help people in need and we wanted to achieve political goals under the rule of law and with respect for human rights. At the European external borders, people are now trying with all their might to rid themselves of the responsibility for those seeking protection by depriving them of their rights. It has once again become normal to achieve political goals by degrading people. 

Worldwide, more than 82 million people are on the run. Only a very small proportion of them are fleeing to Europe. It is an indictment that we are throwing our own legal foundations overboard just so that fewer and fewer asylum applications are made in Europe. On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees is dying. The governments of the member states are capitulating in the face of the asylum policy challenges. Because they cannot agree on a functioning asylum system, they disguise this failure by mistreating and disenfranchising people in need. People are suffering because governments are not doing their job properly.

We call on the Commission to finally take action against Croatia's violent pushbacks

Recently, a shocking research was published by ARD, Lighthouse Reports, SRF, Mirror and Novosti. This broad pan-European network of journalists published new reports of pushbacks by Croatian border guards, in six cases specifically documented with videos. Entire families and vulnerable people are being pushed back across the EU border through the forest. One case involves a pregnant woman in her eighth month with five small children. The six videos show a total of around 65 people, including 20 children, being illegally pushed. Among them even a man with a heart condition and crutches.

Some of these incidents do not even take place near the EU's external border, but people are taken far from the interior of the country to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pushbacks and violence against refugees are clear violations of European law and have been taking place for years without any serious consequences.

That is why I, together with other MEPs from the Greens, the Left and Social Democrats wrote this letter to the responsible minister, Ylva Johansson, demanding that the Commission finally take action against the systematic pushbacks and violations of human rights..

Open letter to Heiko Maas on deportations to Afghanistan

The Taliban are conquering more and more territory, people are fleeing and the Afghan government asked for a halt to deportations. I have taken all of these events as an opportunity to a letter to Heiko Maas to write. I would 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.

Dear Federal Minister Maas,

the security situation in Afghanistan is dramatic. According to the Global Peace Index, Afghanistan is the most unpeaceful country in the world. Since the start of the peace negotiations between the Afghan Government and the Taliban, the number of civilian victims has continued to rise and fighting has increased. The hectic withdrawal of US and NATO troops poses serious risks to the stability of the country and its civilian population. At the end of June, the Taliban already controlled 157 districts in Afghanistan, twice as many as at the beginning of May. This means that 40% of districts in the hands of the Talibanjust as many are in contention.

Due to the insecurity, many embassies have already recalled their staff; Australia was the first country to even close its embassy in Kabul. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is also worrying. In 2021, about half of the population, 18.4 million people, will be dependent on humanitarian aid; at the beginning of 2020, the figure was still 9.4 million people. Reasons for this are in addition to the ongoing conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food insecurity and, last but not least, the additional burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a current survey The experiences of Afghans deported from Germany show that they, their relatives and supporters are threatened by violence both by the Taliban and by state actors and their social environment. A large number of the interviewees suffered violence after arriving in Afghanistan due to their previous stay in Europe and the "Westernisation" that went along with it. Securing a livelihood was virtually impossible due to the economic situation and social exclusion, which is why 70% of the interviewees had to leave the country again after a short time. Those who do not have this option are often left with little other way to secure a livelihood than to join warring parties or gangs. Due to the Taliban's control of numerous areas and connecting roads, it is also almost impossible for returnees to reach their provinces of origin.

According to the latest information, an Afghan deported from Germany in February died on 21 June as a result of a grenade. All these findings suggest that the current security situation in Afghanistan and the threat of violence during repatriations make a halt to deportations indispensable. Afghan government also asks for temporary suspension of deportations due to security situation.

Nevertheless, collective deportations from Germany to Afghanistan continue to take place, as was the case most recently on 06.07.2021, They made the following comments in Madrid on 05.07.2021.t: "So far, there has certainly been an increase in violence, which there has also been in the past. If that continues to dramatize, that will also be reflected in our reports." "What impact that will then have on the question of whether people can still be deported to Afghanistan, we will then see. However, with what we have so far in terms of information, I still consider the current practice to be justifiable."

According to the report on the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan relevant to asylum and deportation (as of June 2020 in the version of 14.01.2021), the Federal Foreign Office is "not aware of any cases in which returnees have demonstrably become victims of acts of violence due to their stay in Europe". Furthermore, some areas in Afghanistan are described as safe, and current developments are not taken into account. The basic comments of the report state that in case of sudden changes in the situation, either an ad-hoc report will be prepared or the recipients will be made aware of the lack of timeliness of the report. It is also pointed out that accurate information from Afghanistan is extremely difficult to obtain. Has such an ad hoc report been produced or, in view of the rapidly changing security situation with far-reaching implications, is it pointed out that the report no longer adequately reflects the current situation? I welcome the fact that the Foreign Office situation report is currently being revised. I would ask you to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in line with new findings and developments, and to send me the latest report.

With kind regards

Erik Marquardt

EU Parliament adopts migration fund: almost €10 billion for asylum, migration and integration

The €9.88 billion 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 funding for committed cities and regions.

As the asylum spokesman for the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, I say this:

„Finally, municipalities can apply directly to the EU Commission for money to take in refugees. This means that municipalities can no longer be so easily prevented from dealing with flight and migration in a spirit of solidarity. It is also a great success that we were able to achieve in the negotiations that the Member States are obliged to allocate at least 15% of their programmes to legal migration and integration. This means that countries can no longer refuse to support migrants if they want to benefit from EU funds. Another success is that 20% of the funds will be spent on humanitarian aid, resettlement and relocation. The fund by no means solves the major problems of European asylum policy, but it is a good step towards rewarding solidarity in asylum policy and improving coexistence on the ground.“

Further information on the AMIF can be found on the Parliament page and on here on my homepage.

A chronology of civilian rescue at sea

Tens of thousands of people drowned while fleeing in the Mediterranean. Instead of rescuing people, civilian sea rescuers are increasingly blocked and criminalized. Here I have written a chronicle of the civilian sea rescue of the past years.


Silvio Berlusconi and Muammar al-Gaddafi concluded an agreement in 2008. Friendship treatyBerlusconi apologised on behalf of Italy for colonial crimes and Gaddafi undertook to set up his own coastguard and to repatriate boats carrying refugees. Italy subsequently trained and equipped the Libyan coast guard. While individual member states are already trying to make the European migration policy and refugee defence more transparent, the beyond European borders Sync and corrections by n17t01 organize, used Libya under Gaddafi, exploited its importance for European border policy in order to demand economic and political quid pro quos. In the following years, over a thousand people were intercepted on boats by Italian authorities, sent to Libya and handed over to the authorities there. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights found this practice unlawful. In the case Hirsi Jamaa et al. it was decided that pushbacks violate the prohibition of inhuman treatment and the prohibition of collective expulsion. 
In 2011, protests spread across several states, which eventually became known as the Arab Spring in the history of the world. A brutal civil war started in Libya. Many people fled to Europe at the risk of their lives. During this time, despite a international military operation the establishment of a naval blockade and a no-fly zone, and NATO-presence led to many deaths in the Mediterranean because there were no serious state efforts to rescue people at sea.


October 3, 2013 marks 23 years of reunification in Germany, and with it the won right of millions of people in the GDR to move freely. On the day 368 people drown at Europe's external borders off Lampedusa beach. A week later, more than 200 people drownedafter a boat is not rescued for a long time despite distress calls. In response to the many deaths and the deaths, Italy launches the sea rescue operation 'Mare Nostrum', 'our sea', in November. In one year it rescues 130,000 people in distress in the central Mediterranean.


Other European member states refuse to provide funds for the rescue of the people and to agree on a solidarity-based distribution of the rescued people, which is why Italy suspends the operation. Mare Nostrum' is followed by 'Triton'. Proactive rescue of people in need turns into border control. The operation led by Frontex rescues significantly fewer people, which is also the intention: the then German Interior Minister Thomas De Maziére claims that 'Mare Nostrum' was terminated because it turned out to be a 'Bridge to EuropeThe EU is not creating safe and legal escape routes. The EU does not create safe and legal escape routes and thus continues to force people onto life-threatening routes.


In order to stop watching the deaths in the Mediterranean, the sea rescue organisation was founded in 2015 Sea Watch and is sending its ship to the Mediterranean on 20 June 2020, World Refugee Day, to find sea rescue cases and organise help. Médecins Sans Frontières is also setting out to save lives. Since the EU Commission and the member states are unwilling to organise a European coordinated sea rescue, it is now privately organised organisations financed by donations that save people from dying in the Mediterranean. This is not meant to be a long-term solution, because humanitarian aid in the Mediterranean should actually be organised by the state.


Now the NGOs are coming SOS Mediterranée, Proactiva Open Arms, Sea-Eye and Youth Saves, which Boat Refugee Foundation and Save the Children and send ships to the Mediterranean to rescue people. But the Libyan Coast Guard – militias financed, equipped and trained by the EU as part of Operation Sophia, some of whom had previously smuggled people themselves and now smell a better deal as coast guards – are taking action against civilian sea rescue: 

"Armed militiamen had already threatened and boarded the Sea-Watch 2 on April 24, 2016, before endangering the ship and crew again on May 10, 2017, through a breakneck maneuver off its bow." Sea Watch explains. The Bourbon Argos will also shelled and boarded; the Sea-Eye speedboat Speedy with its crew to Libya hijacked.


The organizations are not intimidated by this. Instead, from now on Sea Watch observes with the search plane 'Moonbird' Human rights violations and emergencies in the Mediterranean.

The discourse is changing: right-wing populists blame smuggling for the misery on the Mediterranean and European camps and spread the lie that the sea rescuers cooperate with the smugglers. A prosecutor from Sicily claims to have proof of this. He could never prove his assumption. Now it has become known that the Sicilian prosecutor's office has been monitoring journalists and activists since 2017 to an extent that would otherwise only have been possible against the Mafia and terrorism is being applied. The authorities are focusing on journalist Nancy Porsia. According to Andrea di Pietro, lawyer of the Italian Journalists Association, the one of "the most serious attacks on the press in the history of our country."

In July 2017, Italian authorities attempted to force sea rescue NGOs to make a Code of Conduct to sign. "Jugend rettet" refuses to sign this code of conduct, which contained various right-wing populist prejudices. Only two days later their ship, the Iuventa, is seized. The scientific service of the Bundestag declares the Code of Conduct for illegal under international law. As a result of increasing criminalisation, intimidation and restriction, some NGOs withdrew from the Mediterranean. 

The central sea rescue control centre in Rome, the MRCC, is beginning to limit cooperation with civilian ships and instead to assign more cases to the 'Libyan Coast Guard'.. More and more people are being pushed out of distress at sea back to Libya, where they are Torture, slavery and murder threaten. Through their policy, the EU Commission and the Council are complicit and violate the law by cooperating with Islamist militias. against international law.


In 2018, the crew of the Open Arms refuses to hand over rescued people to the Libyan authorities. The ship is banned from entering Italy and is briefly impounded. Salvini becomes interior minister and closes Italian ports to civilian sea rescue ships. Other states follow suit: Malta also restricts entry into its ports, the Netherlands withdraws the Lifeline's flag. 

At the same time hundreds of thousands of people declare their solidarity with the sea rescue NGOs: The Piern alliance is formed and speaks out against the criminalization of those who help and for a migration policy based on solidarity that deserves its name. 
Nevertheless, further ships have had their flags withdrawn and proceedings initiated against them. The Aquarius is being investigated for alleged illegal waste disposal. Clothing and hygiene products of the rescued are considered toxic waste. On the ships that may be in operation, Wait many people are waiting to be allowed to land in a safe port. But EU member states are struggling to define their responsibilities, taking nearly three weeks to agree on the distribution of just 32 rescued people from the Sea-Watch 3. some. Similar procedures are repeated, so that the work of NGOs was massively hindered.


Operation Sophia will end in 2019 because it has rescued too many people from distress at sea. The crew of the Turkish tanker El Hiblu 1 rescues 108 people from distress off Libya and wants to bring them back to Libya. However, three Afghan youths manage to convince the crew and bring the rescued people to a safe European port. They are taken as El Hiblu 3 known and arrested for months. Maltese authorities initiate a trial against them on suspicion of terrorism. They face life imprisonment for successfully protesting a pushback against international law.

In summer, new ships sail to the Mediterranean and rescue hundreds of people in a short time. In June, the Sea Watch 3 declares a state of emergency, to which there is no response for over 60 hours. There is no longer enough water on board and the psychological strain on the people on board increases. Captain Carola Rackete finally defies orders and brings the ship to a port in Lampedusa. As a result, in Italy. apprehended.

Also the crew of the Alex by the Italian Maritime Rescue Organisation Mediterranea defies the Italian authorities because of an unsustainable health and hygiene situation. In September, the Mare Jonio to Italy. Although the crew claims to have docked in Italy with the permission of the Italian coast guard, the ship is confiscated and the organisation has to pay a fine of €300,000.


In February 2020, the two crews of Sea Watch 3 and the Mare Jonio will receive honorary citizenships from the Mayor of Palermo. Sea Watch sends out with the Seabird a new aircraft over the Mediterranean capable of covering an area the size of Brandenburg. 

Corona is making the situation more difficult for civilian rescue at sea. In order to do something about the inhumane conditions at the EU's borders, many people, including myself, are calling for the Leave no One Behind campaign. This solidarity network works to protect people whose well-being and safety are not taken care of by states or the EU. 

The EU mission starts in April Irini as the successor to the Sophia mission. The aim is to expand the so-called Libyan coast guard and to review the arms embargo against Libya – Sea rescue is not part of the mandate. Under pressure from Italy, even the part of the Mediterranean where most people are in distress at sea is being bypassed so as not to have to rescue them.  

The Alan Kurdi must ten days waiting for the assignment of a safe harbor. The crew has previously rescued 150 people from distress at sea. There are two suicide attempts. One person requires urgent medical attention. Similar cases occur on other ships. Meanwhile, the Moonbird observes pushbacks to Libya by the 'Libyan Coast Guard'.

Sea rescue is actively obstructed

In August, a post Louise Michel named ship of an anarcho-feminist collective into the Mediterranean Sea. It was financed and sprayed by Banksy. In the meantime, the Louise Michel even in distressafter rescuing 219 people. 33 of them are already housed on a life raft. One person is already dead, others suffer from severe fuel burns. The calls for help remain unanswered until the Sea Watch 4 and the Italian coast guard bring the people to Lampedusa. As early as September, the ship is moored in Palma de Mallorca. 

The longest stand-off ever occurs: a Danish oil tanker, the Maersk Etienne, rescues 27 people from distress at sea in August. Entire 38 days the people on the ship have to hold out. Food and drink become scarce. Out of desperation, three people jump into the sea, but can be rescued again. 

In September, the European Commission will present its proposal for a new Migration Pact in the future. Although the Commission recommends that sea rescue NGOs should not be criminalised any further, it does not provide for any binding measures for their protection and for state-organised sea rescue. Overall, no improvements can be expected from the proposal; on the contrary, it would worsen the situation of refugees.

In 2020, a total of eight sea rescue organisations are on the Mediterranean Sea, unfortunately mostly only for a short time, sometimes they are not in action at all due to the pandemic and blockades.


In March 2021, after 3.5 years of investigations, charges will be brought against 21 sea rescuers from Jugend rettet, Ärzte ohne Grenzen and Save the Children. The accusation: Facilitation of unauthorised entry. This is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The cases against the Aquarius for illegal waste disposal and against the Open Arms for alleged illegal entry are also reopened. A raid takes place against Mediterranea. 

By July 2, this year already at least 773 people drowned while fleeing across the Mediterranean. That is more than in the same period in the past three years. The Sea-Eye 4, meanwhile, rescued more than 400 people during its past deployment. The Sea-Watch 4 rescued more than 450 people and is now being held in Italy on flimsy grounds. Doctors without Borders continues sea rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea - this time with our own chartered ship: The Geo Barents.

We need a European sea rescue programme

This overview is brief and far from complete. It shows important key points of the development of civilian sea rescue in recent years and how the political climate has changed. If you want to read more or get involved yourself, feel free to check out their pages, which we have linked to in the text. I stand firmly by the side of the sea rescuers. In the European Parliament, I am doing everything I can to create safe migration routes, to decriminalise civilian rescue at sea and to rely on European solutions based on solidarity. We need a European coordinated and financed sea rescue programme so that no person has to drown on the way across the Mediterranean.

Read more

  • 5 years of Sea Watch is no reason to celebrate. You can read their 5-year report here read up.
  • At Airborne Report Sea Watch documents the cooperation of the 'Libyan Coast Guard' and European authorities and their lack of assistance in sea emergencies. 
  • What happened on the Mediterranean from 2016-2018 logged SAROBMED.
  • The Migazin maintains a chronology of particularly bad shipping "accidents" in the Mediterranean. 
  • Statewatch analyses the anti-migration policy between Libya and the EU.
  • Max Pichl talks about the limits of the rule of law at Europe's borders.
  • Monitor reports on European borders with special support from Germany in Niger. 

History of European asylum policy since 1997

Over the past two decades, we have unfortunately come little closer to a humane and progressive asylum policy. Below you will find an overview of the Amsterdam Treaty via the Treaty of Lisbon to the current Commission proposal for a Common European Asylum System (GEAS), on which the Commission, Council and Parliament are currently working.

The Amsterdam Treaty is signed by the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States in 1997 and enters into force two years later. It sets the course for a common European asylum policy: parts of asylum policy are declared to be a common policy area of the European Union by being incorporated into the supranational first pillar of the Community have been integrated. The aim is to approximate asylum policy and asylum law in the Member States. The Amsterdam Treaty also brings into force the first Dublin agreements is in force. This stipulates that only one EU member state is responsible for each asylum procedure. 

Tampere Special Cups 1999

The Tampere Special Summit is held in Finland in October 1999. The European Council adopts a programme for cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs for the next five years. Within this framework, the guidelines of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is elaborated. Common criteria for granting refugee status on the basis of the Geneva Refugee Commission will be adopted. Agreements with countries of origin of those seeking protection and further measures are to enable more extensive control of migration movements.

The Dublin Agreement is revised in 2003. It is stipulated that, in principle, the country of first entry must conduct the asylum procedure and thus also examine the applications. This poses challenges for European border states such as Greece and Italy, while European states without an external EU border can largely escape responsibility under the agreement. Furthermore, with Dublin II the EURODAC database introduced. This will be used to collect and compare fingerprints of people seeking protection. Border controls are also being extended. Dublin II had the goal of harmonizing European asylum policy, but also aggravated the situation for protection seekers in Europe. 

The Hague Programme 2004

In 2004, at a special summit, the governments of the EU decide to continue the Hague Programme. It is based on the Tampere programme, of which it is the successor. The aim of the programme is to further restrict immigration. This is to be achieved with the help of agreements with countries of origin and transit. One focus will be on the deportation of people with rejected applications. At the same time, measures for legal migration and for the integration of third-country nationals are to be created. 

In addition, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency shall Frontex is launched. A common visa information system (VIS) collects and shares information on asylum applications and biometric data at EU level.2005 EU heads of state and government draw up the Global approach to migrationwhich aims to cooperate with countries of origin and transit outside the EU to prevent irregular migration. 

Asylum Procedures Directive 2006 and Lisbon Treaty 2009

One year later, the Council adopted Asylum Procedures Directive in force. It lays down principles and minimum standards of asylum procedures. The aim is to harmonise access to asylum procedures in the EU between the member states. The Asylum Procedures Directive defines who is recognised as a refugee or as a person in need of subsidiary protection. The exact decisions are here to read. In practice, however, harmonisation between the Member States is failing, which is already the enormous difference in recognition rates in the Member States. 

The Treaty of Lisbon enters into force in 2009 and strengthens the Powers of the European Parliamentwhich is now de facto a co-legislator with the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers). Nevertheless, Parliament still has no automatic right of initiative. At the same time, the rights of the Member States are structurally preserved, which have a right of veto in the European Council. They are also still free to decide how many people they grant entry and work permits to. The Treaty will key areas of a common EU migration policy defined: The establishment of conditions for legal entry and residence and the rights of people from third countries, as well as the fight against trafficking in human beings and "irregular" migration.

Stockholm Programme 2010

With the Stockholm Programme from 2010-2014, which replaces the Hague Programme, will be followed by the development of Frontex and the enhanced cooperation of Europol and Eurojust with the Border Agency. The Entry-Exit System (EES) will be created to register non-EU citizens residing in the EU. This is a further step towards the creation of "smarter" borders. In addition, further readmission agreements are being concluded with countries of origin. At the same time, labour migration is being viewed more favourably as part of the solution to the skills shortage in Europe. 

In 2011, the Commission shall adopt the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)which updates the approach written in 2005. Compared to the GAMM, the framework conditions for legal migration are improved and the right to asylum is strengthened. Labour migration in particular is to be facilitated. At the same time, border controls will be tightened and more restrictive measures introduced. More emphasis will be placed on readmission agreements with countries of origin. In addition, central competences in the granting of visas and asylum remain with the Member States. The GAMM represents a strategy with an impact on European foreign policy.

Dublin III from 2014

Dublin III comes into force in 2014. In addition to the nuclear family, uncles, aunts and grandparents are now also considered family members and the right to family reunification is extended to people with subsidiary protection status. Furthermore, mandatory interviews with applicants are introduced. Appeals against rejection decisions can from now on postpone deportations and refoulements to another member state. An advance warning and crisis management system will also be adopted. The Dublin procedure is extended to people applying for subsidiary protection and no longer only concerns people applying for refugee status. People who pose an "acute risk of absconding" can now be detained. Dublin III provides for accelerated procedures for people in detention. 

In 2013, the EU will begin, with the approval of the Council, to EU Border Assistance Mission cooperate with Libyan institutions, ostensibly to combat human and arms smuggling and further prevent migration to the EU. The goal is to send people back to their countries of origin. To this end, the EU is equipping the Libyan coast guard, training them and thus creating a paramilitary unit. These are partly Warlordswho often smuggled people themselves.

Beginning and end of Mare Nostrum and state-organised rescue at sea

In the same year, the EU calls Having regard to the support of the Parliament and the Council the monitoring system EUROSUR to monitor Europe's external borders using satellite data. National authorities must now coordinate their actions with each other and with Frontex. coordinate. In addition, the Italian Coast Guard launches Operation Mare Nostrumwhich in just one year 130,000 people lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, EU heads of government refuse to support the operation with resettlements. Therefore, a European coordinated rescue at sea from. Mare Nostrum will end in October 2014 and will be replaced by the Frontex operation. Triton replaced. Instead of rescuing people in distress at sea, the focus is on isolation. As a result, fewer people have been rescued in the Mediterranean. 

Khartoum Process 2014 and the cooperation with brutal dictatorships

The so-called Khartoum Process of 2014 is causing a stir, as the EU states here with Military dictators from Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan are working together. Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia are also involved in the process. With the justification of wanting to prevent the causes of flight, the EU Commission is working here with repressive dictators from whom people are fleeing and who in some cases have very high recognition rates in EU states.

Following disasters in the Mediterranean, a special summit of the Commission and EU Heads of State and Government will be held in 2015. 10-point plan was adopted. Funds for Frontex sea rescue will be increased to respond to the increasing number of refugees in distress at sea. Further measures against smuggling will be adopted and Frontex will be given further competences. Also the Application area of the agency will be increased. People are to be deported more quickly with the help of Frontex. Cooperation between EU security authorities will also be stepped up. 

European Migration Agenda 2015 and establishment of „hotspots“

The European Agenda on Migration will be presented by the Commission in 2015. In order to facilitate legal migration to the EU, the "EU Blue Card" for highly qualified persons will be revised in the following years. More detailed information on the EU Blue Card and further legal migration opportunities to the EU I have summarized on my blog. The cooperation with countries of origin will also be strengthened again.

The surveillance of Europe's external borders is being pushed forward; trafficking boats are to be destroyed. Here, too, the aim is to facilitate legal migration and prevent irregular immigration. To stop migration more quickly and to combat them. In this way, the Agenda is part of the EU's Global Approach to Migration. The Externalization is increasingly being expanded, thus shifting the EU's border policy to third countries. 

In addition, the establishment of "hotspots", i.e. closed centres where protection seekers are registered and security checks take place, is decided. In the same year, intra-European Walls and Fencesas in Hungary, Slovenia and Austriaand many people have been prevented from travelling further. Many countries are closing their borders and using more offensive violence against those seeking protection. Refugees on the Balkan route are being guarded with barbed wire, dog patrols, Pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons prevented from continuing their journey. 

Operation Sophia

Since 2016, the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVOR MED) as part of the Operation Sophia the so-called Libyan coast guard. The self-declared goal is to combat smuggling and human trafficking. This goes back to a decision by the European Council. Also armed Soldiers from Germany are involved. The rescue of people in distress at sea, which is obligatory anyway, is also envisaged.

In the same year, the Commission changes its strategy on migration and on dealing with third countries: In the framework of the Partnership Frameworks the focus is placed on deportation. If third countries fail to cooperate in taking back migrants, the Commission threatens them with consequences, for example in terms of trade and development policy. Thus, crucial EU assistance is linked to cooperation in migration policy. 

EU-Turkey Deal 2016

On 20 March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal in force. Since then, protection seekers have been systematically detained on the islands and deported back to Turkey. Syrian protection seekers who reach the Greek islands "irregularly" are to be brought back to Turkey. For each of these people, another Syrian person is to be resettled from Turkey to the EU. Even if people from Syria are resettled in the EU, the statement ignores refugees from other countries, such as Iran or Afghanistan, who often suffer hardship in Turkey.

There are numerous pushbacks to Turkey, from where many people face deportation to Syria. You can read more about the agreement in a Conversation with Gerald Knaus, Maximilian Pichl and me. In September of the same year, without the involvement of parliament, an agreement is reached with Afghanistan on the repatriation of refugees in order to carry out large-scale deportations to the country, which has been in disarray for decades. More on the JWF Agreementyou'll find here

Malta Declaration 2017 and cooperation with Libyan militias

The Declaration by Malta was signed by the European heads of government on 3 February 2017. As a result, EU funds will be used to establish and support the Libyan coast guard, define a Libyan SAR zone and set up a coordination centre in Libya. This means that the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre is no longer responsible for coordinating SAR activities in international waters off the Libyan coast. Instead, this task now lies with the Libyan Coast Guard. This leads, among other things, to people being sent back to the country of civil war (so-called pullbacks) instead of being brought to a safe port.

Thus, civilian sea rescue ships are also ordered to take rescued people back to Libya, where they are threatened with torture, imprisonment, forced labour and murder. By no means can a port in Libya be described as safe for those seeking protection. Here the EU is making itself partly responsible for the inhumane treatment of people. SOS-MEDITERRANEAN explains: "With the Malta Declaration, the European Union has laid the foundations for a massive breach of international law, financed with European taxpayers' money." 

New migration and asylum pact

Work is currently underway on a new Migration and asylum pact worked: In September 2020, the Commission will propose a draft to allow Member States to assist deportations instead of taking in protection seekers: In 2019, before the pact proposal was published, the previous Parliament agreed with the Council on a reform of Frontex's mandate. The so-called Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency II broadly expands Frontex's mandate: from 1700 Border Officers:in 2019, the agency is expected to increase to 10,000 border agents by 2027. Border procedures, i.e. Asylum procedures under detention conditions at the border, should become the norm.

We Greens have a Alternative proposal which is based on genuine and binding solidarity. We are in favour of open asylum procedures that take into account the preferences of those seeking protection and the readiness of local communities to receive them. We will work to ensure that human rights are not further restricted and that access to fair asylum procedures is guaranteed. We must constantly ask ourselves where we want to go, what goals we are pursuing with European migration policy, how we want to appear externally and internally. In doing so, we must never forget that the future of Europe can only be based on human dignity and equality.  

Other sources:

Dr. P. Bendel, M. Haase: Third phase: Migration policy as a Community task (since 1999). In bpb, 29.1.2008. Available online at

J. Grosser: Supranationalisation from Amsterdam to Lisbon (1997-2007). In: Treffpunkt Europa, 13.06.2020. Available online at Supranationalisation from Amsterdam to Lisbon (1997-2007) –

M. Haase, J.C. Jugl: EU asylum and refugee policy. In bpb, 27.11.2007. Available online at

English-language literature:

Bialasiewicz, Luiza (2012): Off-shoring and Out-sourcing the Borders of EUrope. Libya and EU Border Work in the Mediterranean. In: Geopolitics 17 (4), pp. 843-866.

Crépeau, Francois (2015): Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. UN Doc. A/HRC/29/36. Report presented at the Human Rights Council, 29th Session. Geneva.

Gaibazzi, Paolo; Dünnwald, Stephan; Bellagamba, Alice (eds.) (2017): EurAfrican Borders and Migration Management. Political Cultures, Contested Spaces, and Ordinary Lives. New York, s.l.: Palgrave Macmillan US (Palgrave Series in African Borderlands Studies).

Papagianni, Georgia (2013): Forging an External EU Migration Policy. From Externalisation of Border Management to a Comprehensive Policy? In: European Journal of Migration and Law 15 (3), pp. 283-299.

Wierich, Andrea (2011): Solving Problems Where They Are Made? The European Neighbour-hood Policy and Its Effects on the Context of Other Migration-Related Policies of the European Union. In: Perspectives on European Politics and Society 12 (3), pp. 225-241.

Question: Situation of persons seeking protection 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 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 at will.“ Currently, 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 will find my collected questions to the Commission and the replies here.

My request

The situation of those seeking protection on the Greek islands still doesn't meet minimum European standards. Thousands of people have been exposed to a record winter in tents. There is still no running water on Lesvos, and only 23 of the showers were supplied with hot water in January - in sub-zero temperatures and snow. In a report of the EU Task Force Lesvos from the beginning of February, the Commission says that all tents have been winterized. Moreover, the weather is dry for long stretches in winter, and temperatures on the island are rarely below 10 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the Greek government is pushing ahead with the construction of closed and guarded centres with the help of EU funds.

1.what improvements in terms of the minimum humanitarian standards required and freedom of movement are there in relation to the Moria camp in the new Kara Tepe camp?

2. on 3 February 2021 the local parliament in Mytilini adopted a resolution providing for the establishment of an EU-funded closed and guarded camp for a total of 3 500 people. What measures does the Commission intend to take to ensure that its promise to Parliament that the camps at the external borders will not become closed camps is implemented?

3. there are increasing indications that the undignified temporary camp will continue to exist next winter. What is the timetable for the establishment of decent housing and how is the Commission ensuring that it is adhered to?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 19.05.2021

The Mavrovouni camp was set up on a temporary basis in order to provide people with immediate shelter after the fires in Moria. The Commission and the Greek authorities have since been working to improve reception conditions. To this end, the Commission is providing funding, operational and technical assistance. Work on water and electricity supply, sanitation and ballasting is continuing area by area. Hot water showers and toilets have been installed. The medical area is being upgraded and medical supplies are being provided. The Commission and the Greek authorities will continue to work on additional improvements.

The protection and improvement of living conditions for asylum seekers in Greece is a priority for the Commission. The existing centres on the islands will be replaced by multifunctional reception and identification centres in line with the EU acquis and standards. The Commission is providing substantial financial support, on condition that the new centres comply with the relevant acquis. The Greek authorities have confirmed that the residents of the new centre will be able to enter and leave the camp at will. The establishment of a system of access cards should ensure the security of the centres. The agreement on the joint pilot project on Lesvos provides for the Commission to be consulted on the centre's procedures.

Work on the islands is at different stages of planning and construction. The Greek authorities confirmed their commitment to complete the centres by the end of 2021. The Commission is working with the Greek authorities through a dedicated Task Force and is monitoring the progress of the work, including through monthly Steering Committee meetings involving all relevant stakeholders.

Letter to the Commission: Lead exposure in the new Moria

Since the new Mavrovouni (Kara Tepe) camp on Lesvos opened in September 2020, there have always been serious concerns about lead contamination in the former military area, in addition to all the other disastrous living conditions. Over 6,000 people live on land that has been proven to be contaminated with lead, putting pregnant women and children at play at particular risk. Together with many other MEPs, I have therefore supported an open letter to the EU Commission.

In January of this year, the government published "results" of an investigation, which, however, deliberately included only very incomplete tests. But even the lead levels measured there are alarmingly high. The Greek government is trying to justify this by setting unsuitable and dangerously high limits for these conditions.

We call on the European Commission to urge the Greek authorities to relocate all camp inmates immediately to less contaminated areas. Until then, all residents must be fully informed about the dangers of lead poisoning. In addition, blood tests must be provided free of charge, primarily for children under the age of two, who are particularly at risk. The health and safety of these people is at great risk. They must not be kept locked up in these conditions any longer, and certainly not for another winter.

The full letter to the Commission and all signatories can be found here.