Study shows widespread racism in the EU

The current report "Being black in the EU" concludes that racism, discrimination and hate crime remain a major problem, despite the existence of binding anti-discrimination laws since 2000. Key findings include that almost half of respondents have experienced racial discrimination – an increase from 39 % in 2016 to 45 % in 2022. Reasons for discrimination include personal characteristics protected by EU law such as skin color, ethnic origin and religious beliefs. More than half of respondents who felt discriminated against in at least one area of their lives stated that they were discriminated against on several grounds. Skin color, ethnic origin or migration background were the most frequently cited reasons.  


The responses from 6,752 people from sub-Saharan Africa and their descendants residing in 13 EU Member States were analyzed: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The most important selection criterion was the country of birth of the respondents or their parents. This means that respondents were either born in a sub-Saharan African country (immigrants) or born in the EU with at least one parent born in a sub-Saharan African country (descendants of immigrants).

High number of unreported cases

Although assaults are still widespread, two thirds (64%) of victims of racist violence stated that they had not reported the last incident they had experienced to any organization or body. This is despite the fact that most victims of racist violence suffer from psychological problems and fear being attacked again. Some respondents did not report the incident because they felt it would not make a difference (36 %) or because they felt reporting would be too bureaucratic or time-consuming (19 %). Others did not report the incident because they were afraid that no one would believe them or take them seriously, because they did not trust the police or were afraid of the police (16 % each). 15 % of the victims of racist violence did not know where to go or who to contact to make a report.

Discrimination in many areas 

The discrimination experienced also continues in the areas of employment, housing and healthcare. While the average employment rate for people of African descent aged 20-64 (71 %) is similar to that of the general population (73 %) in the same age group, a third (32 %) of employed respondents work in elementary occupations, compared to an average of 8 % for the general population across the 27 EU Member States. The over-qualification rate is higher for respondents of African descent than for the general population, regardless of whether they are nationals of the survey country (35 % compared to 21 %) or third-country nationals (57 % compared to 40 %).


Respondents are also more at risk of poverty, social exclusion and energy poverty than the general population. A third (32 %) of them struggle to make ends meet, compared to 18 % of the general population. 14 % cannot afford to keep their home warm, compared to 7 % of the general population. 18 % are in arrears with their electricity and gas bills, more than twice as many as the general population (6 %). Almost one in two respondents (45 %) in the 13 countries surveyed live in overcrowded housing, a much higher proportion than in the general population (17 %).

Those who try to rent or buy a home are also racially discriminated against. In some countries, this is mitigated by social housing. One in four (23 %) of respondents of African descent said that a private property owner had prevented them from renting an apartment or house because of their skin color or ethnic origin. Respondents were more than four times as likely to experience discrimination when trying to rent from a private owner than when trying to rent from a public or local authority (5 %).

racial profiling 

In addition, more than half of people of African descent believe that their most recent police stop was the result of racial profiling. The survey results show that experiences of racial discrimination can undermine trust in public institutions, including the police, the legal system and local authorities. For example, average trust in the police is 1.2 percentage points lower among respondents who have felt racially discriminated against compared to respondents who had not experienced racial discrimination. Comparing the 2016 and 2022 results in terms of perceived racial profiling among respondents of African descent, the average rate across all countries surveyed increased from 41 % (2016) to 48 % (2022). Men are more likely to be stopped than women.

Europe Brunch on right-wing extremism with Erik Marquardt and Natascha Strobl on January 27, 2024

January 27 is a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism, and we would therefore like to dedicate this event to this important occasion. 

At a time when right-wing extremists are meeting to draw up joint "remigration plans", there is a need for a clear stance against the right and a collective reminder of the lessons of the Second World War. What is the significance of the guiding principle „Never again“, and how can we understand it in the context of an ever-increasing shift to the right? What significance and impact does this have on the migration and asylum debates?

I, Erik Marquardt, am the spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group for the issues of refugees, migration and human rights. In my role as shadow rapporteur and co-negotiator of the European Asylum Pact (EAS), I will give you an insight into my experiences during the negotiations on the Pact. We will also analyze how the dominance of right-wing narratives in the debate on migration and asylum has influenced the course of these negotiations.

For this, we have invited Natascha Strobl. A respected political scientist and expert on right-wing extremism, Natascha will guide us through her analysis of radicalized conservatism, as detailed in her book of the same name. Together we will examine the methods and strategies she describes in the current political landscape and focus on how the lessons of the Second World War reinforce their relevance in current political events. 

Together, Natascha and I will shed light on how decisively this radicalization of supposed conservatives contributes to a reduction of rights for people seeking protection. 

We look forward to entering into a stimulating exchange with you.


Kin Za, KrausnickstraÃe 23, 10115 Berlin

Date and time: 


10 – 12 a.m. 

Registration for on-site participation: 

Unfortunately, we have reached our maximum capacity for guests on site. If you still want to be there, there is still the possibility to listen online via our stream. ð¥â 

ATTENTION: There is NO confirmation email after registration. The registration will still arrive. The day before the event you will receive another reminder email with all event details. 

Registration for online participation

For all people who cannot attend on site, there will be an opportunity to listen in via a live stream. Please register using the form here. You will receive the link for the stream by email before the event begins.

Facts against prejudices

I receive many inquiries about flight and migration. Some are based on genuine interest and I am very happy to answer them. Unfortunately, however, there is also a loud minority that repeatedly tries to impose its racist, right-wing populist or prejudiced world view on others and to disinform them. This disinformation has been very successful in recent years, with the result that migration is no longer discussed in an objective manner in large parts of society. That is why I have written down and answered common questions and prejudices here. I hope that we are proud to be able to help people in need and make decisions in accordance with the rule of law. In order for this to succeed, we have a shared responsibility to oppose bogus solutions and populism. In addition to the facts against prejudices, it is important to constantly question proposals and assertions. It is often enough to ask questions and ask people to find out more for themselves.

Sea rescue lures people to the Mediterranean!

Studies show, that the number of crossings will not fall if sea rescue is prevented. But without sea rescue, more people drown. That it represents a so-called pull factor is a lie. Currently, over 90% of people arrive without civilian sea rescue. This proves that civil sea rescue is not a prerequisite for fleeing to Europe. Sea rescue only prevents more people from dying. Rescue at sea is not only an obligation under international law, but also an essential part of what makes us who we are: when people are in need, we must help, regardless of why someone is in distress. We cannot build European borders that are more dangerous than civil wars just so that people have to stay in war instead of finding protection. If we really want to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean, we need safe, legal routes for refugees – for example via the UNHCR resettlement program, in addition to sea rescue.

It's mainly young men who come here who don't need asylum. 

Wrong. Worldwide, there are as many women as men on the run. If refugees from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and all other countries are added together, a total of 55% women and girls and 45% men and boys fled to Germany between the beginning of 2022 and September 2023. There are various reasons why more men than women flee to Europe from some areas: Many families can only afford for one person to flee. Women are at risk of being abducted or raped while fleeing. This is why fathers or young men often flee alone and then try to bring their wife and child or family back legally. As family reunification is severely restricted and sometimes takes years, more women and children have to flee on life-threatening escape routes. In addition, men sometimes have special reasons for fleeing, such as compulsory military service for a dictator. This is a major reason for flight in countries such as Eritrea.

They are not real refugees, they are just economic migrants.

Most people seeking protection in Germany currently come from War zones, Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan. They are not economic refugees. Only around 12% of asylum applications in Germany come from African countries. Even if you exclude the refugees from Ukraine, almost three quarters are granted protection status after a substantive examination of the asylum application. The adjusted protection rate was 72 %higher than ever before. And poverty, famine or destroyed livelihoods are also reasons for flight for many people, even if they are not recognized as grounds for asylum. Here, we should advocate for legal and safe escape routes, for example through UNHCR resettlement, but also better opportunities for safe migration into the labor market. After all, there is a shortage of 400,000 additional workers and skilled workers in Germany every year. Furthermore, not everyone who comes to Europe has the right to asylum - but everyone has the right to a constitutional procedure.

Germany is already doing so much anyway. Why shouldn't the other countries do something?

In the world there are over 108.4 million people on the run. Most do not flee to Europe: around 85% find protection in countries of the global South. The countries that have taken in the most people overall are Turkey, Iran and Colombia. In per capita terms, other countries are in the lead. In Lebanon, one in seven people has fled, in Jordan it is one in 16. 

In the EU, most asylum applications are made in Germany – however, Germany is also the most populous country in the EU. Based on the number of inhabitants Germany in 10th place out of 27 EU countries in 2022. Cyprus, Austria and Luxembourg received the most applications per capita. The impression that Germany is the only country in Europe taking in refugees is deceptive. Nevertheless, there needs to be a fairer distribution of refugees in Europe, as Germany is taking in more people than would be necessary under a fair distribution formula. Many countries treat refugees in Europe so badly that they cannot stay there. This not only creates suffering and chaos, but also an unfair challenge for some member states.

Why are they fleeing the war, can't they just serve their country and fight?

Would you pick up a gun for a dictator? Would you shoot or bomb innocent people? Or would you try to escape? We should be grateful to every person who is not fighting in civil wars, for dictators or murdering militias. And we should give these people protection. The European Court of Justice has confirmed in a ruling that the threat of military service in such situations is a reason to flee. 

For example, every Russian who flees from military service is one less person who can commit war crimes in Ukraine. 

If they are genuine refugees, why do they pay smugglers and come illegally?

To board a plane to Europe, you need a visa for the Schengen area. In many countries around the world, such as Syria or Afghanistan, it is not possible to obtain a visa. The vast majority of people can therefore only flee to Europe via irregular, dangerous routes. They often have to pay several thousand euros for this. There are no safe escape routes to Europe for most people. It is also not possible to apply for asylum at an embassy. Asylum can only be applied for if you have already arrived in Europe. Although the number of refugees worldwide has reached a new high, the number of legal escape routes – for example via resettlement programs – has reached a new low.

Although flying to Europe would be much cheaper and safer than fleeing on a rubber dinghy, this is out of reach for many. Legal routes to Europe are the most effective means of combating people smugglers. Nobody puts themselves in the hands of criminals if there is a safer and cheaper option.

There are far too many rejected asylum seekers living in Germany who are not deported! 

Some politicians often claim that too few people are deported in Germany and that the country is therefore overburdened. This is not true. On June 30, 2023, there were 279,098 people in Germany who were required to leave the country. Around half of these are rejected asylum seekers – the others are often people who have simply overstayed their tourist or student visa and do not want to apply for asylum. Of those required to leave the country, 81 percent had a tolerated stay permit. The bottom line is that 54,330 people – are directly required to leave the country, a large proportion of whom are not asylum seekers. Measured against the number of people seeking protection in Germany, this is a very small group. Nevertheless, it is often pretended that a "repatriation deficit" is of great relevance to the number of refugees in Germany. The demand for faster deportations often leads to people being deported who have integrated quickly and successfully. This also applies here: The competition for the toughest rhetoric on repatriations will only have the right-wing populists as winners.

Aren't the many refugees too expensive? How are we supposed to afford it

It is often claimed that people flee to Germany primarily because the social benefits are so high. This is incorrect and often serves to create prejudices against refugees. Scientists agree that many factors are relevant for the destination country. The most important factors are whether people have relatives or friends in the country – i.e. a network that they can access. 

It is also not true that asylum seekers receive as much or even more state support than Germans. They receive money in accordance with the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act and this is significantly less than citizens' income. Extensive cutbacks + limited medical care are an additional burden.

For 2024, the federal government plans to spend a total of 21.3 billion euros for refugees and asylum. However, entire 7.5 billion. is earmarked for combating the causes of flight. For reception, registration and accommodation in asylum procedures, for example, only 1.1 billion planned. The federal government also transfers money to local authorities for childcare and social housingwhich appears in this item, but which benefits many people, not just refugees. A large part of this sum therefore benefits us all. Studies also show that migrants pay more taxes over time than they receive in social benefits. 

Refugees are taking our jobs or don't want to work 

The fact is that there is a shortage of workers and skilled workers in almost all sectors in Germany, particularly in the skilled trades and care. Fewer children are being born every year, but the job market is not getting any smaller. Incentives instead of deterrents for migrants would counteract the problem. 400,000 additional workers per year are currently needed or the retirement age will have to be raised further and further and our welfare state and economy will begin to falter. Successful labor market integration is the key to our immigration country. But of course it would be better if we improved legal channels for labor market integration. Most refugees will stay with us for a long time if they are granted protection status. So far, it takes too long for people to enter the labor market, especially women. Many refugees have problems with the recognition of their qualifications, have to learn the language and complete training or studies. Nevertheless 62 percent of refugees seven years after arrival employed. That is only around 10% less than Germans without a history of flight. To accelerate this even further, it would be important to abolish work bans for refugees. In addition, language and integration courses should be expanded much more and nonsensical bureaucracy should be reduced.

Why do refugees drive such fat cars and why do Syrians have new smartphones? 

When people have to flee a war, it affects both the well and the poor. Especially the people who are upset about this say themselves that the right to asylum is not for poor migrants. You have to understand that most people in the world are fleeing wars and violence. With these reasons for fleeing, it doesn't matter whether you have a lot or little money – you simply need a place to be safe. People are also often upset that refugees have smartphones.

But what would you take with you if you had to flee? For many people on the run, smartphones are the last thing they have left. They have memories on them - photos and messages from loved ones. It is their way of communicating with their families and friends. It is the means of navigation that helps them to move on. Especially for refugees who have few possessions, often smartphones, their only and most important possession of all, their contact to family, to information or to apps with which they can learn German or translate texts that they do not yet understand.

If we finally protect our borders properly, then fewer people will finally come! 

You often hear this argument and it is simply not correct. People at the EU's external borders or the German border have the right to apply for asylum. This means that refugees at borders always have the right to a constitutional asylum procedure. More border controls therefore do not lead to fewer asylum applications. Furthermore, they must not be punished for crossing the border illegally if they are fleeing from a country in which they are being persecuted. This is already stated in the Geneva Refugee Convention. Some claim that the laws should be changed accordingly. However, this is not possible, because the principle of non-refoulement is an immutable right - also as a lesson from the Shoah. One would have to withdraw from the EU, the Council of Europe and the human rights conventions and disregard the Basic Law in order to simply reject people seeking protection across the board.

Unfortunately, human rights are now being systematically violated at Europe's external borders. People are drowning, being tortured or illegally pushed back. These serious human rights violations are not only a disgrace, they also threaten the rule of law and order in the EU because they lead to a situation in which member states no longer abide by their own laws. 

This is not only unworthy for those seeking protection, but also for Europe. After all, European borders are only protected if human rights are protected.

Doesn't more refugees also mean more crime?

Germany has also been one of the safest countries in the world in recent years. In recent years, the number of serious crimes has continued to fall.
So why do refugees still appear more frequently in crime statistics? There are many reasons for this: The statistics are often based on suspicions and not on judgments - and refugees are suspected more often. In addition, when comparing criminality, all the crimes that Germans cannot commit must be factored out: Lack of residence permits or violations of registration requirements, for example. If you consider this, it becomes clear that refugees commit crimes just as rarely as comparable social groups who have not immigrated.

Doesn't migration have too many disadvantages for us?

If all migrants were gone tomorrow, our society would collapse. Corona has shown that in important areas such as agriculture, care or the delivery of goods, we would not manage a day without migrants. And the fact that the first vaccine against Corona was developed in Germany is also connected to this, that Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin's parents migrated to Germany.

But you don't have to defeat a global pandemic or earn a lot of money to be granted the right to asylum. The right to asylum is a human right. And beyond the economic aspects, migration is above all a constant that is as old as humanity itself - and has been a driving force for progress, exchange, new ideas and necessary change throughout human history. Without migration, Europe would not have been populated at all. After all, the first humans were on the African continent.

How much money do refugees get? Is it more than German citizens' allowance recipients get?

No. In the asylum procedure, a person is entitled to benefits under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act, which is less than citizens' benefits. Extensive reduction options + limited medical care are an additional burden. Even now, a relevant part of the benefits are benefits in kind when people are accommodated in initial reception centers. They then only receive pocket money of 6 euros per day. When a refugee is no longer in the initial reception center, she receives 410 euros per month. That is significantly less than recipients of citizen's allowance receive. Refugees don't get more, they get less. Unless they work more. But then they also pay more tax.

Why aren't the rescued people brought back to Libya, Tunisia or other North African countries? 

There is a Opinion of the German Institute for Human Rights. It clearly shows that no state in North Africa can be considered a safe haven. In particular, cooperation with Libya cannot be justified legally or morally. This is also proven by several Court rulings.

In Libya, refugees are imprisoned in so-called "Detention Centers" (detention camps) under the worst conditions, where they are threatened with danger to life and limb. The population as well as foreign refugees and migrants suffer from crime, abductions, irregular detention, illegal executions, torture and suppression of freedom of expression by various actors due to the prevailing lawlessness. The cooperation with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard is a violation of international law.

The rescued people have to be brought to Europe because none of the North African countries have a functioning asylum system. These countries are not safe for vulnerable groups such as LGBTQIA+ or other minorities. As it is not feasible to determine on board the rescue ships which territories would be safe for the people and which would not, Europe cannot shirk its responsibility and must bring the people to safe harbors in Europe. This also applies to NGO ships.

We have no room, where should they all go?

In Germany more than 600,000 apartments empty. Since reunification, many people in the new federal states in particular have moved away and left behind a spatial, but in some cases also a social void. The city of Suhl in Thuringia, for example, still had 56,000 inhabitants in 1991. Today there are only about 35,000. 

So we have space and we also have many people who want to help refugees. There are over 300 municipalitieswho want to take in additional refugees. Germany is not a boat, but a huge but ageing country - without immigration, we would have shrunk long ago. The willingness to accept refugees is high - we could easily take in more people than are currently arriving. For example, the people seeking protection in the camps on the Greek Aegean islands.

Visit trip to the European Parliament in October 2023

At the end of October, 43 people interested in politics visited me in Brussels at the European Parliament. At my invitation, this group was able to travel to Brussels subsidized by my visit quota. Together with my team, we organized an exciting European political trip, where many Green members, but also people interested in politics, who are not with the Greens, registered and together we discussed the big questions of the EU in Brussels. 

Procedure in Brussels

We left Tuesday morning from Berlin by bus to Brussels. On Wednesday, the cultural part of the travel program took place. Since Belgium is known worldwide for its chocolates, the group enjoyed a Chocolaterie looked at. There she learned how chocolate is grown and produced, as well as how it is refined and made into pralines. After an exciting lecture, two participants were even allowed to use the machines themselves and produced a small batch of nougat chocolates for the group. Afterwards, the participants went on a joint tour with our City guide Manuel through Brussels to the Atomium and learned a lot about the history of Brussels. Afterwards, they continued on foot through Brussels Old Town and learned a lot about Belgian and Brussels society, architecture, history and politics.

Thursday was the big politics day. It started in the Parlamentarium Museumwhich presents the history of the EU and its processes in a playful and vivid way. Afterwards, the group visited the European Parliament. There was a guided tour of the visiting service, the Plenary Hall was visited and they had an in-depth conversation with me. We talked a lot about the current migration issues, but also about other topics such as digitalization and climate protection. Afterwards, we had dinner together in a typical Brussels brasserie, where we were able to further discuss all the topics that we didn't have time for during our appointment at the European Parliament. The next morning, the group returned to Berlin together. 

Well, interested?

If you are also interested in such a trip, please feel free to send us an email and we can contact you for the next visit to the European Parliament.

A Europe for all?

European policy talks in a cozy atmosphere

The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, already more than 2000 deaths in the Mediterranean this year, high inflation that makes life unaffordable for many, the massive consequences of the climate crisis, a shift to the right in Europe: the list of challenges facing the European Union is long and we have to be careful that social cohesion in Europe does not fall short. 

Is European solidarity the key to getting out of the crises? Is a Europe for all feasible?

The MEP Erik Marquardt is responsible for the topics of flight, migration and human rights in the Green parliamentary group. He will report on the current status of the Common European Asylum System and explore the question of which steps are necessary on the way to a humanitarian and human rights-based asylum system.

Rasmus Andresen is the spokesman for the German Greens in the European Parliament and a member of the Budget and Finance Committees. He will discuss social issues in the current crisis policy and the consequences of the current economic and financial policy.

We cordially invite you to European political discussions with delicious food and drinks

A Europe for all?

On September 14 at 19:00

in the tree house Berlin

Gerichtstr. 23, 13347 Berlin-Wedding


Please register using the form below as we have limited capacity on site.

For all people who cannot attend on site, there will be a possibility to listen via a live stream. You will receive the link via email shortly before the event starts, please register for this as well. 

The panel discussion of the event will be recorded. 

Video: Presentation of the study on the criminalization of refugees

On July 6, we presented the results of the study "A lawless space – the systematic criminalization of refugees for driving a car or boat to Greece". If you missed the event, you can watch it again here. 

You can find the presented study in English, German and Greek here

On my behalf, Borderline Europe took a look at how the fight against suspected smugglers is being waged in Greece and came up with some shocking results. The investigations reveal a lawless space in which arbitrary justice is the order of the day in order to deter other people from fleeing. 


Smugglers represent the second largest group of inmates in Greek prisons, over 90% of them are third country nationals. In the vast majority of cases, however, it is not people smugglers who make money, but simply refugees who are accused of smuggling; and this only because they are accused of having crossed the border by car or boat. 

Most individuals are convicted based on the testimony of a police or coast guard person, who in 68 percent of cases is not even present during the proceedings. A trial lasts an average of 37 minutes, with the average prison sentence being 46 years. Due to a lack of translation, the convicted often do not even directly understand what they have just been sentenced to and for. Given the severity and extent of criminalization and the associated human rights violations, there is an urgent need to address this problem and bring it to the attention of a wider public.

That is why on 06 July 2023 we met in the projecttogether met to talk about the criminalization of refugees. 

The speakers

Lotta Mayr and Julia Winkler from Borderline Europe have presented the results of the study. Afterwards, the Greek lawyer Natasha Dailiani from the Legal Centre Lesvos again explicitly addressed the Greek legal framework. Mahtab Sabetara told the story of her father, who is in prison in Greece and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for driving the car in which everyone fled. How you can learn more about the case and support her in getting her father released, you can here or on Instagram experienced. At the end Petar Rosandić from SOS Balkan Route and Roswitha Feige from the Austrian Parish network asylum described how they managed to prevent the Lipa prison camp in Bosnia. 

Event on the topic „No Hunger by 2030?“

For the past three years, the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition worldwide has been rising dramatically again. Currently, 828 million people are affected, 10% of the world's population. Although there is enough food available worldwide, numerous factors mean that the right to food cannot currently be granted in many countries. These include the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and resulting disrupted trade chains and price increases; the severe consequences of climate change, such as drought or severe storms and resulting crop failures; and last but not least, violent conflicts. Countries in the global South are particularly affected. Harmful practices such as food speculation further fuel global food insecurity. The implementation of long-term strategies in partner countries, support for sustainable agricultural practices, and the provision of sufficient resources for emergency aid in crisis regions can be decisive levers in tackling global hunger. 

Given the ongoing crises facing the global food system, the EU's contribution to promoting food security is more important than ever. But how is Europe taking global responsibility for feeding the world? What challenges and conflicts stand in the way of a global green and just future without hunger? And how can we reduce influences from food speculation on an already tense situation? 

To seek answers to these questions, on June 02 we will look at the current state of food security, the challenges facing the global food system, and the role of EU policymakers in addressing these challenges. 


17:00 – 18:30

  • Welcome by MEP Martin Häusling (Agricultural Policy Spokesman for the Greens/EFA) and MEP Erik Marquardt (Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Development)
  • Input from Tobias Reichert – Germanwatch: Impact of food speculation on food security.
  • Input from Sigrid Müller – World Food Programme: How far to the goal of No Hunger by 2030?
  • Discussion and exchange with the audience

18:30 – 19:00

  • Conclusion with small reception

Moderation: Susan Zare, Moderator, Journalist & Speaker


Spielfeld Digital Hub, Skalitzer Straße 85/86 – 10997 Berlin

Date and time: 


17 – 7 pm 



For all people who cannot attend on site, there will be a possibility to listen via a live stream. You will receive the link by mail shortly before the event starts.

Greece: Inhumane conditions in deportation prison

In the northern Greek Paranesti deportation prison eleven refugees went on hunger strike to draw attention to the catastrophic and inhumane conditions in the camp.

The systematic and arbitrary detention of refugees in Greece has been highlighted in two investigations by the Border Violence Monitoring Network and from Mobile Info Team documented. In the reports, those affected describe physical abuse and violent practices in the prisons, as well as deplorable hygienic conditions and lack of access to sufficient medical care and legal counsel. Together with members of the Socialist and Left Groups, I call for the release of all underage refugees and all refugees whose detention time exceeds the legal limit, an end to violence, and an immediate improvement in prison conditions. You can find the letter here.

We need a coordinated EU mechanism for Russian dissidents and defectors

In my letter to the Commission, I join 34 other MEPs from four political groups in calling for the EU to establish a coordinated mechanism for Russian dissidents and defectors. The original letter with all signatures can be found at here.

Dear Commission President von der Leyen

Dear Vice President Schinas,

Dear Commissioner Johansson,

Following the recent announcement of military mobilization in Russia, we, as Members of the European Parliament, address the European Commission with a request to urgently develop coordinated solutions at the EU level to be proposed to Member States to ensure effective access to asylum for dissidents and persons fleeing compulsory conscription into the Russian military. Fleeing compulsory military conscription is a widely accepted reason for asylum worldwide, including in European Union Member States. Maintaining this practice is particularly appropriate in a situation of such close geographic proximity to belligerents. Since the beginning of Putin's war of aggression, numerous atrocities and war crimes committed by the Russian army have been reported, and news of misinformed and disillusioned Russian soldiers is also widespread.
The European Union was founded on the values of democracy and fundamental rights and with the aim of securing peace in Europe. It must therefore be in the interest of all Member States to uphold the human rights of Russian defectors to seek asylum in the EU rather than be forced to fight and kill our Ukrainian allies. Therefore, we turn to the European Commission to quickly propose a mechanism to allow deserters to flee to the EU. Only good coordination and quick action at the EU level can bring safety to many people who refuse to participate in Russia's murderous war in Ukraine, knowing the complicated security situation and the geopolitical sensitivity of this issue. The rapid activation of the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainians:inside has shown that unity and coordination produce results. Following this great example, we hope for proposals in the same spirit and promise the active cooperation of the European Parliament. With this letter, we would also like to join the calls made by the President of the Council Charles Michel and the Czech Prime Minister Fiala in early March to grant asylum to Russian soldiers who are not willing to continue fighting in this war.

Yours sincerely,

MEP Erik Marquardt (Greens/EFA)
MEP Rasmus Andresen (Greens/EFA)
MEP Malin Björk (GUE/NGL)
MEP Micha Bloss (Greens/EFA)
MEP Saskia Bricmont (Greens/EFA)
MEP Delara Burkhardt (S&D)
MEP Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA)
MEP Clare Daly (GUE/NGL)
MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens/EFA)
MEP Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (Greens/EFA)
MEP Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL)
MEP Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA)
MEP Malte Gallée (Greens/EFA)
MEP Alexandra Geese (Greens/EFA)
MEP Claude Gruffat (Greens/EFA)
MEP Bernard Guetta (Renew)
MEP Henrike Hahn (Greens/EFA)
MEP Morten Helveg Petersen (Renew)
MEP Dietmar Köster (S&D)
MEP Philippe Lamberts (Greens/EFA)
MEP Pierre Larrouturou (S&D)
MEP Karen Melchior (Renew)
MEP Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA)
MEP Hannah Neumann (Greens/EFA)
MEP Niklas Nienaß (Greens/EFA)
MEP Jan-Christoph Oetjen (Renew)
MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL)
MEP Jutta Paulus (Greens/EFA)
MEP Terry Reintke (Greens/EFA)
MEP Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL)
MEP Jordi Solé (Greens/EFA)
MEP Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA)
MEP Yana Toom (Renew)
MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo (GUE/NGL)
MEP Nils Ušakovs (S&D)
MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens/EFA)

Resilience and resistance – Study on the criminalization of solidarity.

This study, commissioned by the Green Group in the European Parliament, analyzes the state of criminalization of solidarity with refugees in the European Union. 

People are put on trial because they help other people on the run in a humanitarian way. This should deter and ensure that the flight to Europe remains life-threatening and inhumane. Since 2015, we have experienced in Europe how more and more people, in more and more EU countries, are criminalized because they were in solidarity with refugees. Even for rescuing people in distress at sea, people in Italy and Greece currently have to answer to the courts and face long prison sentences. 

In doing so, this new study by Picum and the Green European Group highlights new trends in the criminalization of solidarity and offers advice on what to do about it. Specifically, the study looks at 89 people who were criminalized in the EU between January 2021 and March 2022 for helping people fleeing. In the vast majority of cases, they were providing food, shelter, medical assistance, or transportation to people fleeing, or helping them with their asylum applications. 

However, many cases remain undetected because 

  • fears that media attention could further jeopardize relations with the authorities and limit access to border areas or reception centers;
  • to preserve the right to privacy of volunteers and not to endanger them and their families was more important;
  • some human rights defenders prefer not to speak out during ongoing proceedings.

In the vast majority of the cases examined in the study (88 %), human rights defenders were charged with aiding and abetting the entry, transit, residence, or smuggling of migrants.

Criminalization of refugees

Moreover, it is still worrying that the criminalization of human rights defenders who are themselves refugees is even less known, as the study points out. These individuals are in a particularly vulnerable situation, as they face deportation, refoulement, arbitrary detention, and loss of status. Many face harsh financial, social and economic consequences.

The European Union must take immediate action to address the crackdown on solidarity and prevent the criminalization of humanitarian aid. In light of the growing criminalization of aid workers and people on the run, we need independent monitoring mechanisms at external borders, better protection for aid workers, and a clear condemnation of the criminalization of refugees themselves. 

If the helpers already take on tasks for which the states no longer feel responsible, then they should receive state funding for this. The current federal government should support humanitarian projects at the external borders.