European Borders News
On the 25th and 26th of October, together with my S&D colleague Thijs Reuten, I visited the EU external borders with Belarus. The trip was organised in light of the grave humanitarian situation that developed over the past few months for asylum seekers who are trying to cross these borders. One day in Poland, one day in Lithuania, trying to take stock of the situation on how migrants and asylum seekers are treated at the border. In order to do so, we met with several human rights organisations, such as the Red Cross, UNHCR, Helsinki Foundation, lawyers, academics, and the Lithuanian Ombudsman.
Speakers from local governments such as Barcelona, Strasbourg and Leuven, NGOs, migrant-led organisations and institutions explored the welcoming nature of local communities and municipalities and discussed how municipalities can be better integrated in EU asylum policy. The conference explored alternatives which can better highlight the crucial role of local communities in EU legislations including through better and simplified access to structural funds and a more active role in the future relocation mechanism.
Here the page of the EUROPE WELCOMES campaign by the Greens/EFA: https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/campaigns/migration
In this written question, twelve MEPs demand the Commission to properly assess the case of refugees illegally deported back to Turkey and the role of Greek authorities in such pushbacks.
In this letter, Tineke Strik shares with Vice-President Schinas and Commissioner Johansson her concerns on the current situation on the Greek islands after her visit to Greece in May 2021 and calls on the Commission to act in order to evacuate the camps on the islands.
Written Question submitted by nine MEPs regarding the non-implementation of ruling C-808/18 by the Court of Justice of the European Union which ruled that the 2016 Hungarian legislation on pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers breaches EU law.
In this written question, fourteen MEPs inquiry the Commission on the lack of SAR operations in the Mediterranean in the proposed new Pact on Migration and Asylum.
In this letter fifty-three MEPs bring the attention of the Commission to the situation in the central Mediterranean Sea where on the 21st of April a rubber boat with about 130 people on board sank northeast of Tripoli.
In this letter thirty-three MEPs call on the Danish authorities to reconsider their asylum and migration policy which allows for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.
Written Question submitted by MEP Tineke Strik questioning whether the Commission will react after new evidence of pushbacks at the Croatian border were found.
On 15 January 2021, the Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal Operational Aspects of Operations (the “Working Group”) established by the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (“Frontex”) put forward a number of questions to the Commission.
Here the reply by the legal service of the Commission.
In October 2020, a group of media outlets published evidence about Frontex vessels involved in human rights violations in the Aegean Sea. This raised serious questions about the EU agency’s denial of knowledge of or active contribution to pushbacks. The evidence shows how Frontex witnessed the Hellenic Coast Guard conducting pushbacks but also how the EU agency’s was actively involved in these activities. The situation at the Croatian-Bosnian border, where pushbacks and violence by the Croatian authorities are reported constantly, also raises questions on the involvement of Frontex in these breaches of human rights. In theory, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1896) foresees Frontex’s obligation to terminate activities in case of violations of fundamental rights, as well as several mechanisms to prevent such breaches.
The panelists were:Prof. Nora Markard, Professor for International Public Law and International Human Rights, University of Münster Matthias Oel, Director - Borders, Interoperability and Innovation, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission Andreas I. Pottakis, Greek Ombudsman Tineke Strik, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA, rapporteur of the new European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group
Moderation: Neda Noraie-Kia, Head of Migration Policy Europe, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Thessaloniki Office
Front-LEX and the Legal Centre Lesvos submitted this request for action on the part of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX or the Agency), pursuant to Article 265 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Front-LEX and the Legal Centre Lesvos invite the Agency to consider its position vis-à-vis its activities in the host Member State Greece and to immediately suspend or terminate all its activities in the Aegean Sea Region, in compliance with The Agency’s obligations under Article 46 (4) of European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) Regulation.
In this letter forty MEPs request full information on the status and interim results of the preparation of the legal basis for the arming of Frontex.
In this letter, eight MEPs urge the European Commission to address the issue of pushbacks in the European Union as a matter of priority and to do everything possible to prevent these incidents and take appropriate action.
Written Question submitted by MEP Tineke Strik regarding Fundamental rights compliance by Frontex staff and the current absence of the Fundamental Rights Officer.
Pushback policies and practice are an increasing phenomenon at Europe’s borders, in clear violation of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, including the right to seek asylum and the protection against refoulement, which are at the core of international refugee and human rights law. There are persistent reports and evidence of inhuman and degrading treatment by member States and their agencies in the framework of those pushbacks, through intimidation, taking or destroying migrants’ belongings, and even through the use of violence and depriving migrants of food and basic services.
This report, requested by Tineke Strik, looks at fundamental rights compliance at the European Union (EU)’s external land borders, including rivers and lakes. On 30 January 2020, the European Parliament requested the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to prepare a report on these borders. It noted that the report should focus on the correct application of the safeguards in the European asylum acquis and the provisions of the Schengen Borders Code (Regulation (EU) 2016/399).
In these documents (a letter and an information note) the Hungarian Helsinki Committee raises the issue of fundamental rights violations at the Hungarian- Serbian border and summarises the HHC’s experiences with Frontex and its human rights compliance mechanisms in the last years.
Pushbacks at our external borders have become a widespread practice. Why are these violations so persistent, and what can be done to stop them? We need a wider scope of the newly proposed monitoring mechanism, stricter enforcement of the rules and stronger scrutiny from the European Parliament and Commission.
In this letter, forty-eight MEPs call on Bosnian authorities as well as on the European Commission, the European Council and EEAS to take immediate action and humanitarian measures to protect migrants in Bosnia Herzegovina.
On Wednesday 9 December, 17:00-18:30 CET, MEPs Damien Carême and Tineke Strik hosted a webinar with several experts from both the EU and UK side as well as organisations working on the ground. Speakers discussed the current situation, consequences and recommendations towards a smooth transition which will safeguard the right to asylum.
As the end date of the transition phase for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU approaches, there are still many uncertainties for both sides of how the future relationship will look like in various policy fields. This is also the case for the field of asylum and migration. As the Brexit deadline approaches, the number of people trying to reach the UK in small and unstable boats or hidden in trucks is rapidly increasing with a rise also in incidents and deaths.
Great uncertainty exists about how the cooperation with regards to Dublin, Family Reunification, Returns and other migration agreements will look like.
(Photo by Abdul Saboor)
Tineke Strik is rapporteur for the draft report "Human rights protection and the EU external migration policy" in the DROI Committee.
In this webinar hosted by Human Rights Watch, End Pushbacks Partnership and Refugee Rights Europe on the 19th November 2020, Tineke Strik intervened at minute 1:10:43.
Letter from Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex to Mr David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament on Frontex maritime operations at EU external borders (11/11/2020)
Letter from Mr Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chairman of the LIBE Committee to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex on Activities of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in Greece (4/11/2020)
Letter from Ms Monique Pariat, Director General Migration and Home Affairs at European Commission to Mr Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chairman of the LIBE Committee on EU Readmission agreements and other “EU arrangements” (19/10/2020).
- Letter from Mr Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chairman of the LIBE Committee to Mr Michalis Chrisochoidis, Greek Minister of Citizen Protection, Mr Notis Mitarachi, Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum, Mr Georgios Koumoutsakos, Greek Alternate Minister for Migration and Asylum, Mr Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Greek Minister of National Defence, Mr Ioannis Plakiotakis, Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs on the establishment of an independent body to investigate the evidence regarding incidents of March 2 and 4 at the Greek-Turkish border and reported pushbacks (17/09/2020)
- Letter from Mr Michalis Chirochoidis, Greek Minister of Citizen Protection to Mr Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chairman of the LIBE Committee on the evidence regarding incidents of March 2 and 4 at the Greek-Turkish border and reported pushbacks (3/11/2020)
In this reply letter, the Greek Minister stressed the fact that the accusations of the use of fire by Greek police at the Greek Turkish border in March 2020, as well as those related to alleged push backs of migrants by the Greek authorities and made in the letter sent by the LIBE Chairman on 17/09/2020 are groundless. Moreover, the Greek Minister considered the evidence obtained untrustworthy and therefore hard to verify.
Letter from Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex to Mr Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chairman of the LIBE Committee on the initiative by Frontex to launch an internal inquiry into suspicious incidents recently reported by several news organisations related to our activities at Greece’s external borders (27/10/2020)
Letter from Mr Oliver Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement on the human rights situation of refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (15/10/2020).
Letter from Ms Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs to the Honourable Members of the European Parliament on the current situation with rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean (16/10/2020)
Question for Written answer regarding the current situation and reception conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, initiated by MEP Domenec Ruiz Devesa, co-signed by Tineke Strik (a.o.). The Question was submitted at 01/10/2020, which sets the deadline date for the Commission to response at 02/12/2020. The Commission's replies will be added upon receival.
Written Questions initiated by MEP Domenec Ruiz Devesa, which were co-signed by Tineke Strik. The Questions were submitted on 03/09/2020, meaning the deadline for the Commission to respond was set at 28/10/2020. The Commission's responses have been received and can be found attached.
The following Written Questions were submitted on 07/10/2020 to the European Commission by Tineke Strik with regards to the current absence of Frontex' Fundamental Rights Officer and the related compliance of Fundamental Rights.
The deadline for the European Commission to reply is 07/12/2020. Upon receival, the Commission's replies will be added to this website.