Question: Readmissions between Turkey and Greece

Greece rejects asylum applications from people seeking protection and issues exit orders to Turkey. However, Turkey has not allowed any readmissions for over a year now – people have to leave, but cannot. This leads to a situation „of eternal refugees“ who live in Greece in miserable conditions because they no longer receive benefits.

I asked the EU Commissionwhether this practice is compatible with EU law. In its reply, the Commission statesthat the practice of denying benefits is contrary to European law. Now, at long last, the Greek Government must also comply with the EU directive and, therefore, with applicable law. Unfortunately, however, we currently have a situation both in the camps and at the external borders in which the Greek Government is obviously breaking the law and getting away with it.


You can find my complete question and the Commission's answer here:

My request

Subject: Readmissions between Greece and Turkey

Although Turkey has not allowed readmissions since March 2020, the Greek authorities issue decisions on the voluntary departure of Syrian nationals whose applications have been rejected as inadmissible in a final decision (Turkey is considered a "safe third country" for them). These individuals must leave Greece within 10, 15 or 30 days, although their applications have not been examined on their merits. However, they are not allowed to enter Turkey and cannot return to Syria due to the ongoing conflict. This has led to a situation of "perpetual refugees". At the same time, they no longer have access to material benefits granted under the reception scheme and are exposed to precarious living conditions against the backdrop of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece, which has led to severe exit restrictions.

(1) Is that practice compatible with Article 38(4) of Directive 2013/32/EU?

2. is it compatible with Articles 13 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Articles 4 and 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

3. whether the expulsion of such persons and their exclusion from material reception conditions is compatible with Article 3 of the ECHR and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 01.06.2021

The Commission is aware of the increasing number of Syrian nationals on the Greek islands whose asylum applications have been finally rejected by the Greek Asylum Service, following the fact that Turkey has been declared a safe third country under the EU-Turkey Declaration.[1] was declared inadmissible.

Turkey suspended returns from Greece in March2020 in the context of COVID-19 restrictions, and although Greece and the Commission have repeatedly called for returns to resume in accordance with the EU-Turkey Statement, Turkey has not yet complied with this request.

In Article 38(4) of the Asylum Procedures Directive[2] states that 'where the third country does not allow the applicant to enter its territory, Member States must ensure that access to an [asylum] procedure is granted'. In line with this provision, applicants whose application has been declared inadmissible may therefore reapply[3]. When re-examining and deciding on these applications, Greece must take into account the circumstances at the time of the (re-)examination of each application, including with regard to the prospects of return in accordance with the EU-Turkey Statement. In the meantime, applicants shall have access to material reception conditions in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, EU law and national law.[4].

The Commission is in close contact with the Greek authorities on the issue raised by the Honourable Member. The EU remains committed to the full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, which is the main framework for cooperation between the EU and Turkey on migration issues. This partnership is based on mutual trust and action, which requires commitment and continuous efforts from all sides.


[1] See https://www.consilium.europa.eu/de/press/press-releases/2016/03/18/eu-turkey-statement/

[2] See Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection. (OJ L180, 29.6.2013, p.60).

[3] See Joined Cases C-924/19PPU and C-925/19PPU, paragraph175ff.

[4] See Directive2013/33/EU.

Refugees in Greece receive money from the EU through this programme

In order to support the protection seekers on the Greek islands, the UNHCR has set up a Cash Assistance Programme. Under this scheme, a fixed monthly amount is transferred to an account for the protection seekers, which they can then dispose of freely. 

In principle, the Cash Assistance Programme is intended to offer people seeking protection the opportunity to organise their basic needs according to their individual requirements. It is intended to give them a degree of autonomy in a situation in which they are otherwise unable to shape their own living conditions. At the same time, an attempt is made to build up relationships with the population, to make it easier for them to settle in and to support the local economy. 

It is not comparable to an income or social assistance, to which there is a legal entitlement, but is intended to support people in shaping their own opportunities to provide for themselves. 

Who gets money? 

To determine who is entitled to the payment, the Greek government, together with the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, agreed on a list of criteria: 

  • Arrived in Greece after 1 January 2015 
  • Registered by the Greek authorities and residing in Greece
  • Provisional or completed registration by the determining authority
  • Official document issued by the Greek Government confirming their identity and residence status.
  • Over 18 years old 
  • Living in camps or other accommodation (protection seekers in private accommodation are excluded) 
  • Not employed by an NGO or UN agency
  • Not employed and without income 

How will the money be distributed?

The money, 99.80% of which comes from the European Union, is distributed by a consortium called the Greece Cash Alliance (GCA) in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy. The GCA consists of the UNHCR, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, International Federation of the Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse. 

The people who are supported receive a "UNHCR Greece Cash Alliance Card", which works like any other giro card in Greece. This means that money can be withdrawn as well as paid with the card in the shops. The cards only work in Greece and will be permanently deactivated if attempted to be used outside. Those seeking protection are required to regularly certify their presence in the country and their current eligibility to one of the GCA partners.

How long will those seeking protection be supported? 

There is no minimum or maximum period. Protection seekers are supported until they no longer meet the requirements. This means that the protection seekers are actually always only safe until the next appointment with the GCA partner that it continues. Of course, it is possible to change the requirements and this also leads to the fact that money is no longer paid out to certain persons. It is also possible that the amount of money will change. Here it is unclear on what benchmarks the amount is measured and on what basis who determines changes. Currently in Greece, for example, the number of meals received in the camps is deducted from the monthly amounts. 

How much and where does the money come from? 

A total of €83 779 826.13 was distributed in 2020. Broken down to February 2021, 64 726 people in Greece received Cash Assistance, with a total of 37245 cards in circulation. This makes a total amount of almost €7.3 million for February 2021. 

Currently, the amounts are so high: 

Amount in places where regular meals are provided 

Single person over 18 90€
Couple, parent and child140€
family of 3190€
family of 4240€
family of 5290€
family of 6310€
Family of 7 or more330€

Amount in places where regular meals are not provided 

Single person over 18 150€
Couple, parent and child280€
family of 3340€
family of 4400€
family of 5450€
family of 6500€
Family of 7 or more550€

Question on the involvement of Frontex in illegal pushbacks

Together with other MEPs, I put the following questions to the EU Commission, which answered them on 14.04.2021:

Subject: Alleged involvement of Frontex in illegal refoulement of asylum seekers

On 23 October 2020, Der Spiegel published its investigation entitled "Frontex implicated in illegal pushbacks of refugees". At the LIBE Committee meeting of 6 July 2020, Fabrice Leggeri denied any knowledge of pushbacks by the Greek authorities, except for one incident, which he described as a "misunderstanding". In contrast, however, the article reveals that Frontex officials were aware of at least six incidents in which the Greek authorities had carried out refoulements without helping migrants in distress, and despite the fact that officials were obliged by the Code of Conduct for Frontex Officials to prevent refoulements. This includes an incident that took place on 8 June 2020, in which Frontex vessel MAI 1103 blocked a migrant boat, deliberately created dangerous waves to stop the boat's forward movement, and left the site after Greek authorities had arrived and pushed the boat back.

1. what measures the Commission and Frontex are considering to ensure that the above incidents do not recur?

2. whether the Commission knows whether Fabrice Leggeri was in fact unaware of the above incidents when he appeared before the LIBE Committee?

3. in the light of the above, what view does the Commission take of the political responsibility which Frontex must bear as a result of the incidents?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 14.04.2021:

The Commission takes the allegations of refoulement very seriously. In line with EU law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the principle of non-refoulement must be upheld in border management.

In order to discuss the allegations, the Commission asked the Management Board of Frontex to hold two ordinary Management Board meetings in November 2020 and January 2021, in addition to two extraordinary Management Board meetings. These were convened on 10 November 2020, 9 December 2020 and 5 March 2021.

At its meeting of 10 November 2020, the Board decided to set up a dedicated working group to conduct further investigations into this matter in accordance with the allocation of responsibilities set out in Regulation (EU)2019/1896.[1] The Commission was represented in this working group and submitted a number of questions to the Executive Director in order to obtain further clarification. Upon invitation, a representative of the European Parliament also participated in the relevant meetings of the Management Board.

The Executive Director of Frontex informed the Commission by letter of 27 October 2020 of the preliminary findings of the internal investigations into the incidents reported in the media. He stressed that Frontex had so far not found any documents or other material to substantiate the allegations of violations of fundamental rights or of the Frontex Code of Conduct by seconded officials. The final report of the working group and the conclusions adopted by the Management Board on 5 March 2021 were published on the Agency's website.[2]

An effective and well-functioning Agency for the management of external borders, which guarantees the protection of fundamental rights in the exercise of its functions, is one of the Commission's priorities. To this end, the Commission will continue to support and advise Frontex to ensure the effective fulfilment of the Agency's mandate.


[1] Regulation(EU)2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard (OJ L295, 14.11.2019, p.1).

[2] https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/management-board-updates/conclusions-of-the-management-board-s-meeting-on-5-march-2021-on-the-report-of-its-working-group-on-fundamental-rights-and-legal-operational-aspects-of-operations-in-the-aegean-sea-aFewSI

Newsletter: What was important last month

20/01 January in the European Parliament

Herewith you get my monthly review, with the following categories: The "News from the Borders" give you an update on the situation at the external borders, "Asylum and migration in Parliament" gives an insight into what is happening in my focus area in Parliament, and "What else is important" takes a look at other topics that are important to me. In addition, there is at the end "Good News".

News from the Borders

Situation in Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina worsens 

The situation in the camps at the Greek external borders is getting worse and worse. Repeatedly the new Moria was flooded due to heavy rains, it is cold and strong winds made life in the tents even more difficult. Meanwhile, in Bosnia, thousands of people are trying not to freeze to death in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. The burned down Lipa camp is considered uninhabitable despite new tents.

How the current situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina could come about and what needs to be done now, I have explained in a Post on my homepage and in the current episode of my podcast "Thick Board" discussed. 

At least 127 people died trying to reach Europe in January 

105 people drowned in the Mediterranean, 22 while trying to reach the Canary Islands from the African mainland. Despite the many deaths, civilian sea rescuers continue to be prevented from doing their work.

You can find out more about the accidents on the project page "Missing Migrants" of the IOM and in this Article in the Frankfurter Rundschau.  

My daily newsletter on Telegram 

If you want to learn more about the current situation at the European external borders, you can my daily newsletter on Telegram Subscribe. 

Asylum and migration in Parliament 

Frontex 

A Frontex working group of the European Parliament will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex. As we have been calling for months, the working group will look into the allegations of illegal "pushbacks" against refugees. This is an important step on the road to the rule of law at the European external borders. The serious allegations of human rights violations at the EU's external borders must be clarified. Furthermore Frontex ceases its activities in Hungary. The reason for this is that Hungary continues to illegally deport people to Serbia despite the ECJ ruling and Frontex would thus be complicit in breaking EU law. 

Plenary debate on the humanitarian situation at the external borders

In my speech, I drew attention to the EU's complicity in the untenable conditions for refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, having discussed this issue time and time again in the European Parliament, we must now see action. The full plenary debate on the humanitarian situation of refugees can be found here in the European Parliament Media Centre. For the theme you must enter below on the time display between 11:45 and 13:01. 

My report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders

At the first meeting of the Home Affairs Committee this year, a broad majority my own-initiative report on the implementation of asylum procedures at the EU's external borders adopted. This ability to compromise on the part of Parliament leads me to look forward to good cooperation in future negotiations on the dossiers. of the Asylum and Migration Pact hope.

What else is important 

European Parliament calls for immediate halt to construction of Nord Stream 2

Following the arrest of the Russian opposition activist Nawalny, the EU Parliament has joined with a large majority in our call for a halt to the construction of Nord Stream 2. The German MEPs in our group voted unanimously against the Baltic Sea pipeline. That Russian natural gas is simply no longer needed in Europe, shows, among other things, this study by the DIW.

European immunisation strategy

Together with other Members, I have co-signed a letter to the Commission and the Council calling for a solidarity-based distribution of vaccines worldwide and, in this context, also pointing out the EU's responsibility towards economically less strong regions. For we can only overcome this pandemic if we combat the virus globally.. You can find the letter on the homepage of my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer. 

Good News of the month 

A French baker successfully defends himself against the deportation of his apprentice 

With a hunger strike and a wave of solidarity, the French Stéphane Ravacley prevents the deportation of his apprentice to Guinea. Newspapers in this country are also reporting on the case, which is making waves in France. 

From now on you can get’s monthly review as a newsletter directly in your mailbox. For this you can subscribe register here

Interim assessment of the German Council Presidency

We MEPs from the Green Group on Europe have drawn up an interim balance sheet and are now providing a Overview of the different topics. On asylum and migration issues, Germany has blocked a lot and achieved little during this period, and the crises at the external borders have worsened during the German Council Presidency. Here are the assessments of my areas of work at a glance:


Mass camps for refugees at EU external borders

After the Fire in Moria there was no coordinated redistribution of refugees. The homeless people were shipped to a new Moria on an old shooting range, where living conditions are even worse. The German Council Presidency has failed to work towards distribution and an end to the mass camps at the EU's external borders.


Green Position: The Greens have called for the immediate evacuation and redistribution of refugees from Moria.

Common European Asylum System

The work on the asylum and migration pact is only in its infancy, but there is reason to fear a deterioration of European asylum law. The German government is in favour of mass processing of asylum seekers under detention-like conditions in future border procedures.


Green Position: This creates more morias instead of preventing them. Protection seekers must be redistributed from the external borders as quickly as possible and given fast, fair procedures based on the rule of law. We have also set out our proposals for a fair and efficient asylum system in Europe in this position paper set out.

Asylum and Migration Fund:


In the ongoing trilogue negotiations with the Council of Ministers on the asylum and migration fund, the German Council Presidency is opposed to direct EU funding for municipalities willing to receive asylum seekers.


Green position: Municipalities that want to take in people should be able to help and be supported. Solidarity should be promoted through financial incentives.

Development cooperation instruments:


In the discussions on the largest foreign policy and development cooperation instrument of the next seven-year EU budget - the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) - the German Presidency managed to reach a good compromise with the European Parliament on new development cooperation funds. By introducing human rights guarantees, the fund will hopefully be able to leverage private investment while ensuring, among other things, the safety of workers in the implementation of projects.

EU-Africa


2020 is an important year for EU-Africa relations. The German government had announced before the start of its presidency that it would make Africa a focus of its work. However, due to the pandemic as well as a lack of creative planning to look for alternative solutions, consultation with civil society in partner countries was not successful, while important decisions were taken in developing a joint strategy for the European and African Union.


Green position: The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris climate targets should be financed not only with public but also with private funds. Binding human rights and sustainability criteria as well as transparency and sufficient control mechanisms are essential when awarding and implementing investments in developing countries. Harmful exports of electronic waste or skimmed milk powder with vegetable fats have been flooding the African market for years - to the detriment of local production, the environment and health.

Question: Human rights violations by Greek authorities

In order to be able to exercise my parliamentary control function as a Member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to put questions to the European Commission. The Commission must answer these questions.
Together with other Members, I put the following questions to the Commission:

Subject: Systematic and coordinated push-backs by the Greek authorities

On August 17, 2020, the New York Times published an article titled "Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea." It documents how migrants who landed on Greek soil were repeatedly forced by Greek officials onto unsafe life rafts and abandoned at the sea border between Turkey and Greece. There they were left to drift until rescued by the Turkish coast guard. Others were towed back to the Turkish maritime border and left there after officials disabled their engines, abandoned on an uninhabited island or expelled across the Evros River without the possibility of appeal.

Is the Commission aware of these incidents and can it confirm that they are taking place?

Given the seriousness of the newspaper, we believe that the Greek authorities are carrying out unprecedented, extremely aggressive and systematic push-backs, in breach of Union law, in particular Article78(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Articles 3 and 4 of the EU Schengen Borders Code, Article9 of the Asylum Procedures Directive, Article5 of the Return Directive, Articles18, 19(2) and 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. Asylum and migration are shared responsibilities of the Union. In view of this, does the Commission intend to initiate infringement proceedings against the Greek Government?

Answer given by Commissioner Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 06/11/2020:

The Commission is following the situation closely and has taken note of reports such as those quoted by the Honourable Members.

It has expressed concerns to the Greek authorities about these reports and stressed that, for border surveillance tasks under Regulation (EU)2016/399 on the Schengen Borders Code, Member States should[1] are responsible. In doing so, obligations related to fundamental rights, ensuring access to international protection and the principle of non-refoulement under Union and international law must be fully respected.

Without prejudice to the Commission's powers as guardian of the Treaties, the national authorities are primarily responsible for the correct transposition and application of EU law. The Commission has therefore urged the Greek authorities to investigate any possible wrongdoing.

With the new migration and asylum package[2] - in particular the proposal for a Regulation introducing screening of third-country nationals at the external borders[3] - the Commission has suggested that Member States, with the assistance of the Fundamental Rights Agency, establish an independent monitoring mechanism. This would ensure compliance with EU and international law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights, during the screening process. At the same time, it would ensure that any violations of fundamental rights, including those related to access to the asylum procedure and non-compliance with the principle of non-refoulement, are effectively and promptly investigated.


[1] Regulation (EU2016/399 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) OJ L77, 23.3.2016.

[2] COM(2020)609final of 23 September 2020.

[3] COM(2020)612final of 23 September 2020.

Question: How is the EU tackling incitement on the net?

In order to be able to exercise my parliamentary control function as a Member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to put questions to the European Commission. The Commission must answer these questions.
Together with other Members, I put the following questions to the Commission:

Question with priority for written answer P-004488/2020 to the Commission

Subject: The Commission's efforts to tackle the spread of racism, hatred and incitement on major technology platforms such as Facebook.

Recent reports indicate that Facebook is not effective enough in combating racism, hate, and hate speech [1]. Facebook does not officially recognise itself as a news media company and is therefore not obliged to comply with journalistic standards. Its commitment to combating hate, agitation and racism is therefore voluntary. In addition, Facebook's unwillingness to take action against hate and incitement has led to an advertising boycott by more than 400 brands [2].

1.    How does the Commission ensure that major technology companies such as Facebook adhere to standards that minimise, prevent and reduce the spread of hate and incitement and racist ideologies on their platforms?

2.    What are the findings of the annual monitoring of Facebook in relation to the EU Code of Conduct on Combating Illegal Hate on the Internet and how would the Commission assess the effectiveness of the Code given Facebook's reluctance to tackle hate, hate speech and racism?

3.    How does the Commission intend to effectively monitor, assess and curb the spread of hate, agitation and racism on online platforms such as Facebook?


[1]     https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-artificial-intelligence-doesnt-eliminate-objectionable-content-report-finds-11594287000

[2]     https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/01/facebook-frustrates-advertisers-as-boycott-over-hate-speech-kicks-off.html

Answer given by Commissioner Didier Reynders on behalf of the European Commission on 03.11.2020:

To counter the spread of illegal hate online, the Commission agreed in 2016 with a number of IT companies, including Facebook, on an EU Code of Conduct[1]. The code of conduct includes an obligation to review users' reports within 24 hours and, if necessary, to remove the content concerned. It also encourages cooperation with civil society organisations and national authorities.

The Commission regularly monitors the implementation of the Code of Conduct[2]. As the latest ratings show, on average, IT companies review 90% of the messages within 24 hours and remove 71% of the hate content. While Facebook deleted only 28% of such content in2016 , its removal rate has now improved to over 80%.

However, the Code of Conduct has not only brought about progress in eliminating illegal hate comments, but has also fostered synergies between businesses, civil society and Member State authorities. The results achieved with the Code of Conduct will be taken into account in the ongoing reflection on the Digital Services Bill.[3] include. The proposed Digital Services Act aims to harmonise and clarify the roles and responsibilities of online platforms in combating illegal content transmitted through their services, including illegal internet hate speech. These new rules will also adequately protect fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including freedom of expression online.


[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/racism-and-xenophobia/eu-code-conduct-countering-illegal-hate-speech-online_en

[2] The results of the latest round of assessments were published on 22 June 2020 and are available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/racism-and-xenophobia/eu-code-conduct-countering-illegal-hate-speech-online_en.

[3] The Digital Services Act was announced in the Commission's Communication on "Shaping Europe's Digital Future", https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-shaping-europes-digital-future-feb2020_en_4.pdf

25 EU successes that make our lives better

If you look at the EU today, the abuses often stand out: at the external borders, human rights are too often only valid on paper, there are Member States that completely refuse to show European solidarity and reports about strange laws that come from Brussels. It is clear that there is much that needs to be improved, but No EU is no solution either. The alternative would be to retreat into national calamity.

And so the greatest merits of the EU are perhaps those that cannot even be enumerated: It is hard to imagine what the world would look like without the European peace project.

But besides the grand vision and many problems, there are also some successes of the EU. Here are some enumerated:

A lot done, still a lot to do

EU recovery plan: support during the Corona crisis

Corona caused economic damage in all EU countries, but not to the same extent everywhere: to help member states rebuild their economies, 750 billion is to be made available over the next three years. Of this, 500 billion will be spent without repayment for particularly affected regions. The remaining 250 billion are to be treated as loans.

Read more: What does the EU Recovery Plan mean for the European Green Deal?

Free movement within the EU

EU citizens may move, reside and work freely within the EU plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Travel from the Algarve to Lapland without border controls: After centuries of barriers within Europe, what was once unthinkable is now taken for granted. The Freedom of Movement Act also includes the right to vote in local elections in the country of residence.

Read more: Freedom of movement for EU citizens

Peace within the EU – longer than ever before

Peace among EU member states is now taken for granted – that is historically unique. While alliances and joint trade have always helped to maintain peace between allies at times, never before has this peace lasted as long and as broadly in Central Europe as it has thanks to the EU.

German-French friendship

After centuries of "hereditary enmity" and countless wars, joint membership of the EU now provides the framework for the close ties between the neighbouring countries. More than 57 years ago, France and Germany signed the Elysée Treaty and reaffirmed their understanding of friendship last year with the Treaty of Aachen. Franco-German relations are to remain deepened through understanding and exchange. 

Read more: Promoting Franco-German friendship is good for Europe - but we want more!

A few laws that make life better

Abolition of roaming charges

Since 15 June 2017, surfing and making calls within the EU has become a little bit easier. With the abolition of roaming charges, mobile internet, calls and SMS in EU countries are now possible at the service provider's domestic price. Even before that, these charges were gradually capped more and more by the EU, so the days when a single international call multiplied the monthly bill are thankfully finally over.

Read more: Roaming in the EU – important questions and answers

European data protection

With the European Data Protection Regulation, which came into force in May 2018, the EU has achieved a milestone in the defence of citizens' rights against corporations. The law sets uniform standards for data protection in the EU and plays a pioneering role worldwide.

Details: DSGVO: EU General Data Protection Regulation

An example of where the GDPR has a concrete impact: The GDPR shows its first teeth: 50 million fine imposed on Google

Ban on some single-use plastic items

A first step against the plastic flood: In 2019, the directive on the EU-wide ban of single-use plastic articles was adopted. From 2021, plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, stirrers and chopsticks), plastic plates, plastic straws, plastic cotton buds, plastic balloon pens, oxodegradable plastics and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups are to disappear from our supermarkets.

Read more: EU Disposable Plastics Directive: Important signal with weaknesses – NABU

National implementation: Legal rules: How Germany wants to ban single-use plastic

Transactions without additional fees

The EU guarantees that no additional costs will be incurred when abroad in Europe: Transfers, payments, withdrawals and direct debits to accounts in the eurozone must not cost more than at home.

Read more: Payments, transfers and cheques in the EU

Ban on antibiotic use on healthy animals

As early as 2005, the European Parliament adopted a regulation banning the use of antibiotics to promote growth in farm animals. Since then, there have already been several reclassifications of antibiotics aimed at further curbing their use. In 2018, it was decided, among other things, that some antibiotics may only be used for humans and imported goods must meet EU standards. The aim is to prevent or slow down the development of antibiotic resistance in germs.

Read more: EU restricts use of antibiotics in farm animals

Labelling of nutritional values and allergens on foodstuffs

The EU Food Information Regulation No. 1169/2011 informs consumers about the nutritional content of foods and beverages. Since 2016, this has made it easier for us to decide whether a product is good for us or not: it makes it easier for us to determine the true nutrient content or possible allergenic ingredients of a product behind the companies' advertising. 

Read more: EU Food Information Regulation: important changes at a glance

European funds that make life better

European exchange programme Erasmus

The European Erasmus Programme is the world's largest funding programme for stays abroad at universities. It allows students, but also professionals and young people to participate in a funded exchange abroad in Europe. In 2014 – '20 alone, the program was funded with 14.8 billion, so in June 2019 a milestone was reached: By then, a total of more than 10 million people across Europe had participated in Erasmus+ or its predecessor programmes.

All possibilities: Erasmus+: Home page

European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund

EU funding supports regions according to their structural development and thus ensures a kind of European redistribution. In the new funding period 2021 – '27, there will be increased investment in ecological and social transformation.

Read more: Compact information on the EU funding strategy 2021-2027

Joint European Research Funds

In the financial framework 2014-'20, 80 billion euros were available to fund European research and science projects. It is the world's largest single funding programme for research and innovation, and negotiations are currently underway for the next period up to 2027.


Read more: EU research funding - to get started

Rights and securities that make life better

European Convention on Human Rights

In 1950, the Council of Europe adopted the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a catalogue of fundamental and human rights, the implementation of which is enforceable by every person. Its observance is monitored by the European Court of Human Rights.

Read more: European Convention on Human Rights 

European Social Charter

The European Social Charter is a binding international agreement adopted by the Council of Europe and ratified by most member states. It guarantees the economic, social and cultural rights of EU citizens.

Read more: European Social Charter | bpb

Common food standards

Common food standards apply within the EU. With such regulations and directives, Europe-wide minimum standards are ensured, which may not be fallen short of. The EU focuses on the areas of food hygiene, animal and plant health and contamination and residues. EU authorities check compliance with the standards.

Read more: Food safety in the EU | European Union

Medical costs abroad in the EU are reimbursed by your own health insurance company

In the event of an accident or illness, the European Health Insurance Card covers medical expenses abroad in the EU. All benefits are reimbursed that would also be reimbursed in the country of origin. In this case, all EU member states, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and, since 2010, Algeria, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Kosovo, Libya, Macedonia, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Vatican City State belong to the EU.

Read more: Sick abroad: doctor's visits and hospital stays

2-year warranty for all products throughout the EU

The 2-year warranty is generally known. In fact, it has only been set at a minimum of 2 years by EU law. Buyers can demand free repair or replacement of the goods within a reasonable period of time. If this is not possible, the purchase price must be refunded or reduced. Once the product has been repaired or replaced, a new warranty period begins, again with a duration of two years.

Read more: dealer warranty

Right of withdrawal when buying products in the EU

Most people are also familiar with the 14-day right of withdrawal. It has applied throughout Europe since 2014. Among other things, special attention was paid to the duty to inform.

Read more: EU Consumer Directive changes online trade from 13.6.2014 | Law

EU passenger rights in all EU Member States

The Air Passenger Rights Regulation of 2004 grants passengers the same rights at all airports within the EU in the event of delays, cancellations and denied boarding, e.g. due to overbooking. These rights also apply to flights from outside the EU. The decisive factor is that the airline must have a licence within the EU.

Read more: Air passenger rights at a glance

EU rights of rail passengers

Rail passengers within the EU enjoy the same rights. These include, for example, delays or the cancellation of trains. In addition, the railways also have an obligation to provide information, e.g. about barrier-free stations. 

Read more: Rail passenger rights – Your Europe

EU safety net for consumer products

An EU rapid alert system ensures data collection and information sharing in the European market: Every day, the European Commission receives notifications about dangerous products in the European market. The RAPEX rapid alert system enables the rapid exchange of information between national authorities. There are also safety precautions for purchases on the Internet, such as a seal that guarantees self-commitment to product safety.

Read more: Safety Gate: the rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products

Reduction of hazardous chemicals in products

Human health is not the only focus of the REACH regulation. The reduction of animal testing through alternative methods and the improvement of the competitiveness of the chemical industry are also taken into account.


REACH guarantees a uniform Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction From chemicals. The regulation also guarantees the right to information about the dangers. For consumers, this regulation has great added value, because chemicals are everywhere in everyday life, for example in clothing or electrical appliances.

Read more: Reach Regulation: What it means for you as a consumer

Free movement of goods, services and capital

Free movement of goods means the "abolition of customs duties and quantitative restrictions" within the EU. Services may be temporarily provided in another EU member state due to the free movement of services. The 2004 Maastricht Treaty also banned restrictions on capital movements and payments within the EU. 

Read more: Free movement of goods, persons, services and capital ("four freedoms") | bpb

And of course: the single currency

The introduction of the euro is not only an economic factor – the common currency also makes travelling in the EU much easier and allows the Member States to grow closer together.

Read more: A brief historical overview of the euro

Worldwide, 79.5 million people are on the run. These are the causes

The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Thursday released the Global Trend Annual Report. It is the most important overview of flight and displacement worldwide.

The current report shows that 79.5 million people are currently on the run. That is 8.7 million more than in the previous year, more than twice as many as eight years ago and three times as many as after the end of the Second World War. About one in a hundred people in the world are on the run. Around 40 percent of them are under the age of 18. 

46 million people are internally displaced, sheltering in other regions of their country. Turkey (3.6 million) has received the most refugees from abroad. It is followed by Colombia (1.8 million), Pakistan (1.4 million) and Uganda (1.4 million). According to UNHCR, there are currently 1.1 million refugees living in Germany. Less than ten percent of all refugees live in Europe. 

Most refugees who are outside their country of origin come from Syria (6.6 million), Venezuela (3.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.2 million) and Myanmar (1.1 million). According to UNHCR, these five countries alone account for 68 percent of all refugees living outside their home countries.

The causes of flight can be roughly divided into four categories War and violence, Human rights, poverty and climate flight subdivide. For each of these points I have written down something briefly here.

War and violence

War and violence are the main reason why people have to leave their homes. In Syria, after nine years of war, a large part of the population is on the run, while a sustainable peace is not in sight. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Seid Ra’ad al-Hussein described the Syrian war in March 2017 as a "the worst man-made disaster since the end of World War II."

Most Syrian refugees are located in the country itself and in neighbouring countries. So they stay close to home. The poor conditions in the refugee camps, the cold, the lack of food and also the little prospect of a quick return, then led some to also make their way to the EU.

Most asylum seekers in Germany come from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - i.e. states in which armed conflicts continue to prevail. These are people whose lives are threatened in their homeland or who, for example, evade military service for inhuman regimes. They also include wealthy people who leave everything behind in order to live in peace elsewhere.

German companies sometimes profit directly from war and destruction. Germany exports weapons and armaments worth several billion euros every year, including to dictatorships. According to the current SIPRI Annual Report Germany was the world's fourth largest exporter of arms and armaments between 2015 and 2019. Germany also exports weapons to countries such as Turkey, who used German Leopard 2 tanks in their invasion of Syria in violation of international law.. The former German Development Minister Dirk Niebel (FDP) moved to the German arms company Rheinmetall as a consultant immediately after leaving office.

Poverty

Round According to Unicef, 2.2 billion people have no access to clean drinking water. The number of people living in extreme poverty will increase due to the global economic crisis caused by Corona. according to the UN and the World Bank, by up to 60 million increase. The achievement of the UN development goals is thus once again moving into the unattainable distance.

The fact that many people have to leave their homeland is also related to our economic system. Thus, especially many people from the small Gambia come to Europe and Germany. There again many can fishermen can no longer secure their livelihoods because the coasts of European companies are empty. be fished.

Human Rights

Many people live in states that unfree and in which they are subject to political persecution or persecution on account of their opinions or their ethnic, religious, cultural or sexual identity. Homosexuality is criminalized in dozens of states, and at least twelve states homosexuality is punishable by death. In 69 states, according to Reporters without Borders "bad" or "very bad" about freedom of the press.

Minorities such as Yezidis in Iraq, Kurds in Turkey, Rohingya in Myanmar, but also Roma in Europe, are denied basic human rights because of their membership in a group. A relatively large number of refugees come from Eritrea, where they flee from so-called "military service", which is often nothing more than forced labour. Meanwhile, it is absurd that with EU funds will be used to finance projects to combat the causes of flight in Eritrea.but in which forced laborers are used.

Climate Escape

Climate change will force many people to leave their homes. Some because their homes will be flooded, others because their fields will dry up. The accumulation of natural disasters means that even more people will be permanently displaced from their homes.

The World Bank expects 140 million climate refugees by 2050, with all other conditions remaining the same. The IOM already estimated in 2008 the number of climate refugees in 2050 to be up to 200 million. And even if we succeed in limiting global warming to "only" two degrees, the Climate Council IPCC that it could lead to 280 million Climate refugees by the year 2100 is coming.

In January 2020 the UN Human Rights Committee found for the first time that the climate crisis can be a reason for asylum and people should not be deported, in case of climate-related danger. So far, neither international nor national asylum rules generally recognise climate change as a reason for flight.

The countries most affected are among the poorest in the world. Positive development will hardly be possible for the people there if the climate catastrophe hits them hardest. This results in instability, which can lead to further causes of flight and thus to further indirect climate refugees. Thus, especially unstable regions also suffer from water shortages, which leads to more conflict, which leads to more people fleeing.

Unmarried couples must be allowed to see each other even in times of pandemic!

Due to travel restrictions, many couples have been unable to meet since the pandemic began. What a torment at this difficult time. I have asked Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, along with many other Members from the European Parliament, to finally find a solution.

In Denmark there are already solutions, other EU countries could apply the same rules. Especially as those affected would bear costs and go into quarantine.

You can find the whole letter at this link.

Photo: Petar Milošević (Wikimedia Commons)

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