Europe must not outsource sea rescue to Libya

The report "Places of Safety in the Mediterranean: The EU's Policy of Outsourcing Responsibility" of the Heinrich Böll Foundation points out that the North African Mediterranean states cannot be regarded as "safe havens" and that the EU cannot therefore outsource sea rescue to these states. This is particularly true for the civil war country Libya.

Since 2014, over 20,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean Sea have drowned. The member states of the EU fail to agree on a joint on a joint programme for sea rescue and accept the death of these people of these people so that as few of them as possible reach Europe. They cooperate with criminal militias in Libya and deliberately accept the violation violations of fundamental rights. Some politicians even propose to send the refugees directly to North Africa, including the Libyan war zone, to the Libyan war zone.

Against this background, this study has important policy implications, noting that the EU and its member states cannot shirk their responsibility to save people in the Mediterranean.

Italy and Malta may not close ports

The policy of EU states such as Italy and Malta to close their ports and denying NGO ships access to their ports is costing people their lives. people's lives and is just as illegal as shifting the rescue to Libya.

The member states and the EU must rescue fugitives and migrants* and bring them to European ports, not only for moral reasons but also for legal ones. Your ports must remain open to rescue ships.

Deadliest route in the world

The route from Libya to Europe is the world's deadliest migration route in the world. The main reason for this is that the EU has stopped its has suspended its rescue activities in the Mediterranean. The naval operation Sophia, which saved the lives of more than 40,000 migrants and refugees. the operation. There is currently not a single state rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

Civil organizations that try to close this gap are often obstructed are often obstructed, prosecuted or have their vessels confiscated. are confiscated. By suspending all sea rescue operations and also actively preventing NGOs from saving lives, it is partly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean.

This study makes it clear that the EU and its member states cannot evade this responsibility by outsourcing sea rescue to Libya or other North African Mediterranean countries.

Libya and other states in North Africa are not safe havens

Libya is one of the most unsafe and dangerous places for refugees in the world. People intercepted by the Libyan coast guard are taken to camps where they are subjected to inhumane conditions.., rape, exploitation and even arbitrary killings.

The current European policy of supporting this Libyan coastguard and making it the doorman of Europe is deeply inhumane and violates international law, and the EU and its member states have a duty to take people to a safe place where their lives and safety are not threatened and where they are safe from persecution. 

The study shows that these safe havens exist only in Europe, which means that seven concrete political demands:

1. we need a European sea rescue mission!

The Member States must be proactive in carrying out rescue operations at sea by making ships and resources available, and the European Commission must coordinate them and provide financial support to Member States to improve their ability to save lives at sea. 

2. EU cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard must be ended

Europe must not evade its obligations in sea rescue by shifting responsibility to a country that can under no circumstances be considered a safe place. The EU must stop cooperating with Libya. Instead of funding the Libyan coast guard, which is also an association of warlords, the EU should invest in its own sea rescue capabilities.

3. people rescued from distress at sea in the Mediterranean must be brought to Europe

the study shows that none of the north african Mediterranean states can generally be classified as a safe haven. for vulnerable groups such as LGBTI or other minorities, these states are not safe. since it is not feasible to determine which territories would be safe for people and which would not, on board the rescue ships, Europe cannot shirk its responsibility and must bring people to safe havens in Europe. this also applies to NGO ships. cooperation with the libyan coast guard is a violation of international law.

4. the criminalisation and intimidation of NGOs must stop

Ship captains* and crew members must not be prosecuted for rescuing people in distress at sea. These people are life-savers*, not criminals. The European Commission must decide that humanitarian aid must not be criminalised by the Member States.

5. the EU must work closely with NGOs

Civil organisations cannot exempt member states from their obligation to rescue people in distress themselves, but they can help save lives. The EU should support NGOs in the rescue effort by opening its ports to them, simplifying the registration of ships for sea rescue and informing them about emergencies.

6. Europe needs a reliable redistribution mechanism

The EU Commission must develop a solidarity-based and humanitarian alternative to the Dublin system, in which the rights and wishes of the refugees are respected. A high level of solidarity and readiness to receive refugees must also be promoted financially. In this context, the readiness of local and regional authorities and regions should be taken into account and supported with EU funds.

7. the EU must stop misusing development funds for migration prevention 

The EU is supporting the Libyan coastguard through the EU Trust Fund for Africa. This is a misuse of funds that are supposed to be used for development cooperation. The aim of development cooperation is to fight poverty, not migration. In general be made much more transparent about how EU money is used in third countries. are used.

Question: Refoulement at the Greek-Turkish land border

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.
On 3/23/2020, I received answers from the Commission to the following questions:

Question for written answer E-004588/2019 to the Commission

Subject: Rejections at the Greek-Turkish land border

On December 12, 2019, the news magazine published. The mirror a video documenting illegal refoulement at the Greek-Turkish land border in the Evros region [1] . This video is the clearest evidence to date of the implementation of such refoulements. The Greek government has been repeatedly accused of illegally transferring asylum seekers back to Turkey. In a November 2018 report, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern about ongoing and documented allegations of collective deportations to Turkey. Non-governmental organizations have published a large number of testimonies of persons deported in the Evros region. UNHCR continues to receive numerous credible reports of alleged refoulements. Although documented refoulements at the Greek-Turkish land border are increasing, the Greek authorities deny the allegations.

  1. Such refoulement is an unlawful violation of the Geneva Convention, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and European asylum law. What has the Commission done so far to prevent such violations at the Greek-Turkish border?
  2. Will the Commission take into account the video published by the news magazine Der Spiegel as solid evidence of the rejections?
  3. Is the Commission considering initiating infringement proceedings, given the apparent lack of intention on the part of the Greek authorities to carry out a proper investigation?
[1]     https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/griechenland-videos-zeigen-mutmasslich-illegale-abschiebung-von-migranten-a-1300891.html

E-004588/2019
Answer from Commissioner Ylva Johansson
on behalf of the European Commission:

In accordance with Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the right to asylum is guaranteed in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

third-country nationals, who, on arrival at the external borders of the Member States, do not fulfil the entry conditions conditions of entry on arrival at the external borders of the Member States and do not apply for asylum they have the opportunity to do so, may be refused entry by the EU Member States. may be refused entry by EU Member States. However, the modalities and conditions of the Schengen Borders Code[1] and the principle of non-refoulement. In addition, the return of irregular migrants by national irregular migrants by national authorities on the basis of individual return decisions and in full respect of EU and international law. international law. According to Article19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, collective expulsions are not permitted.

The Commission is is aware of allegations of refoulement from Greece to Turkey. In November2019 , the Director-General of the Directorate-General for Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs wrote to the Greek authorities requesting updates on the status of ongoing investigations, including by the Greek Ombudsman, and on other general measures taken by the general measures taken by the Greek authorities. The Commission is closely monitoring the situation.


[1] Regulation (EU)2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of borders by persons.

Question: Use of EU aid to Greece and Italy in the field of asylum

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.
On 04/03/2020, I received answers to the following questions from the Commission:

Question for written answer E-004414/2019 to the Commission

Subject: Questions on the use of EU aid to Greece and Italy in the field of asylum following the European Court of Auditors' report No 24/2019

In its audit report of 13 November2019 on the European Union's support to Greece and Italy in the area of asylum, the European Court of Auditors pointed to a significant discrepancy between the stated objectives and the results achieved, in particular with regard to urgent resettlement and lengthy asylum procedures The funds provided by the EU appear to be inappropriately distributed, leading to inhumane living conditions in the hotspots

  1. How does the Commission explain the discrepancies between objectives and results and how does it intend to remedy them?
  2. How does it explain why Frontex staff are posted to understaffed hotspots while others are severely lacking in resources, and how does it explain that the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is understaffed while Frontex has sufficient staff or is even overstaffed?
  3. Despite their mandate as Members of the European Parliament, several MEPs have been denied access to the Greek hotspots, even though they have been funded from the EU budget, for which Parliament is responsible. How does the Commission explain why it is not possible for MEPs to ascertain the situation on the ground and the use of EU funds, and what will it propose to ensure that all MEPs have access to all reception facilities which receive EU funds?

E-004414/2019 (04.03.2020)
Answer from Commissioner Ylva Johansson
on behalf of the European Commission:

The Commission cannot agree with the conclusions of the Honourable Members on Report No 24/2019 of the European Court of Auditors of 13 November 2019 and refers to its written opinion on specific points of the report[1].

While the management of external borders and asylum procedures is primarily the responsibility of the responsibility of the Member States, the support of the Commission and EU agencies since 2015 has been crucial to the improving migration management in Greece and Italy.

As stated in the Commission's response, the hotspot approach has contributed to the registration, identification and security screening of migrants in the most difficult and difficult and constantly changing circumstances. The Redistribution of refugees from Greece and Italy (involving 25Member States), which has resulted in nearly 100% of those eligible for resettlement being eligible and registered for resettlement were resettled, was a sign of European solidarity[2].

The Commission is now better equipped to provide operational and financial support to Member States under pressure and has provided unprecedented support to provided unprecedented support to Greece and Italy[3].

The Commission agrees with the recommendations of the ECA in its report and is already is already working on their implementation.

With the deployment of officials from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the Commission is supporting a flexible combination of permanent and mobile teams to cover disembarkations efficiently.[4]. The staff of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has been significantly reinforced since 2015 and will be increased up to 500 staff members in the coming years, provided that the Agency is enlarged in accordance with the proposed Regulation on the Asylum Agency[5].

[1] Special Report No 24/2019: Time for faster action to close the gap between objectives and results See the Commission's reply, published on the Court's website at https://www.eca.europa.eu/de/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=52087.
[2] See Commission's reply, p. 10 et seq.
[3] See https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/201909_managing-migration-eu-financial-support-to-greece_en.pdf and https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/201905_managing-migration-eu-financial-support-to-italy_en.pdf.
[4] See Commission's reply, p. 3 f.
[5] See also EASO press release of 7 January 2020: https://www.easo.europa.eu/news-events/easo-operations-double-size-year.  

Pushbacks in Spain: ECtHR gives a judgement that is far removed from reality

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that the deportation of two refugees without asylum proceedings is lawful. this judgment hardly anyone had reckoned, as the Small Chamber of the ECtHR had decided completely differently in 2017.

The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR claims in the grounds of the judgment that there are legal alternatives to violent, illegal border crossing, which in reality do not exist for Sub-Saharan Africans*, and that overcoming the border installations is in reality the only way to gain access to the Spanish asylum system.

The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR must have been aware of this, at least in part, which is why they argued that access to legal channels is restricted by Morocco, not by Spain, which means that Spain cannot be condemned for this. This is also surprising, since, for example, the UNHCR has explained in detail in the proceedings that there is Spanish influence on this refoulement practice in Morocco.

Another part of the judgment also leads to Lack of understanding among specialist lawyersThe judges argue that the applicants have put themselves in an unlawful situation by using the size of their group and violence to cross the border, which means that they are no longer entitled to a constitutional asylum procedure in Spain.
Combined with the reference to legal channels of access, this fundamentally disenfranchises applicants regardless of their grounds for asylum.

Also from Human rights organisations like Pro Asyl and in commentaries there is criticism of the judgment: "The judgment argues with a reality that does not exist", writes Tim Röhn in the world and calls this a "poverty testimony of the Strasbourg judges". In the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" Wolfgang Janisch describes it's called "unworldly."

However, the ruling is not a carte blanche for the so-called pushbacks. The Chamber did not make a blanket decision that illegal border crossings mean that asylum applications may no longer be submitted. Rather, it referred several times to the violent crossing and group size used by the applicants to gain access to Spanish territory.Such a situation does not exist, for example, on the green Croatian-Bosnian border, where neither violence nor group size are needed to enter Croatian territory. Moreover, the ruling refers to the border area. In Slovenia or Croatia, people often stay in the territory for days before they are brought back to Bosnia without access to legal procedures.Legal access to asylum procedures does not even theoretically exist at many EU borders, which means that the ruling is not applicable there as well. The Turkish-Greek border is in many cases a maritime border. The judgement is not applicable to this, rather the well-known Hirsi judgement applies here (Info on this at Migrationsrecht.netAccording to § 31 of the Geneva Convention on Refugees (GFK), fugitives should not be punished for illegally crossing the border if they are in direct danger in the neighbouring country.

However, the final word on the pushbacks at Spain's external border has not yet been spoken either: a case is still pending before the Spanish Constitutional Court, which could well be decided differently and which had been suspended until the ECtHR decision.

However, the ECtHR decision may also have to be seen in the context of another pending case on humanitarian visas (LINK): If the court now strongly emphasises the real existence of legal access to asylum procedures, this could also lead to the ECtHR claiming entitlement to access to humanitarian visas in certain cases. The ruling is also expected to be issued in the first half of 2020.

The ruling is nevertheless worrying, as it could push many people onto the even more dangerous route across water to Europe, and states such as Croatia and Greece could deliberately misinterpret the ruling and extend their pushback practices.


In doing so, European states should actually do justice to the verdict by finally opening legal, real access routes to constitutional asylum procedures at border crossings and to humanitarian visas in embassies.

EN