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«Examining the EU response to Irregular Migration through the Mediterranean Sea Tel & Fax : +41 22 788 19 71 Email: info Headquarters: 150 ...»

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In the plan, the Commission discussed the ten-point plan on immediate action it had proposed on 20 April 2015. The ten points include reinforcing the operations Triton and Poseidon in the Mediterranean by increasing their financial resources and number of assets available and increasing their operational area; putting in place systematic efforts to capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers; facilitating regular meetings between EUROPOL, FRONTEX, EASO, and EUROJUST to father information on smugglers and trace their funds; deploying EASO teams to Italy and Greece to help in processing asylum applications; ensuring that Page11 member states fingerprint all migrants; considering options for an emergency relocation;

"Europe's Deadly Immigration Policy" Alan Travis.

Julia Choe.

Julia Choe.

Alexandre Lusenti and Lisa Watanabe.

offering an EU wide voluntary project on resettlement with a specific number of places for those in need; establishing a return programme that ensures the rapid return of irregular migrants; engaging with countries surrounding Libya to curb the migrant flow; and deploying Immigration Liaison Officers (ILOs) to key third countries to investigate migratory flows.71 This ten point plan is further expanded on in the European Agenda on Migration. To bolster the Frontex operations Triton and Poseidon, the programs’ budgets are to be tripled allowing greater capabilities and geographical scope for the operations.72 The Commission also proposed a partnership between Frontex and Europol to develop profiles of smuggler vessels and to identify and remove internet content being used by smugglers to attract migrants.

Other key parts of the Commissions ten point plan which are highlighted in the Agenda on Migration, are the relocation and resettlement proposals. The relocation plan deals on a shortterm basis with the distribution of refugees arriving in Europe. The plan calls for the triggering of the emergency response system detailed under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Under this, 40,000 places will be available for the next two years.73 With this system, there would be a temporary distribution system for those migrants who qualify as refugees. The method of determining how many refugees are relocated to a country will be based on a criterion of: GDP (40%), population size (40%), unemployment rate (10%), and past numbers of asylum seekers/resettled refugees (10%).

These refugees would be sent to other EU countries from their point of arrival and will be required to file their asylum claims there. EU countries will be given 6000 Euros per refugee.74 The resettlement plan is meant to allow asylum seekers an alternative method to reaching the EU. The plan sets out a target of 20,000 places per year by 2020 for the entire European Union. The Commission plans to distribute the 20,000 places between European countries based on GDP, population size, unemployment rate and the past number of asylum seekers/resettled refugees.

To complement the relocation and resettlement plans, there are also provisions to provide support to countries who are dealing with large numbers of displaced refugees. The Commission plans to set up Regional Development and Protection Programmes in North Africa and the Horn of Africa to help deal with the pressure from refugees. 30 million Euros will be given in 2015/2016 to facilitate these programs. In Niger, there will be a center set up with cooperation from the IOM, UNHCR and Nigerien authorities. The center is meant to provide information protection and resettlement opportunities to migrants before they enter the web of smugglers. Asylum seekers will also be able to lodge applications at the center.

Page12 "A European Agenda on Migration," Europa, May 13, 2015, Accessed June 2, 2015, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/homeaffairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/backgroundinformation/docs/communication_on_the_european_agenda_on_migration_en.pdf.

"A European Agenda on Migration" Ian Traynor, "EU Countries to Take in 40,000 Asylum Seekers in Migration Quota Proposal," The Guardian, May 27, 2015, Accessed June 2, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/27/eu-countries-take-40000-asylum-seekersmigration-quota-syria-uk.

Ian Traynor.

Other efforts will include a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in certain African countries, a summit on irregular migration and addressing the crises in Syria and Libya. The Common Security and Defence Policy will be deployed to Niger and Mali in an effort to improve border management. The summit in Malta will include the African Union in an effort to develop a common strategy to address irregular migration and the protection of those migrants. In dealing with the crises in Libya and Syria, which continue to exacerbate the scale of the irregular migration problem, the Commission proposed continued humanitarian aid and assistance to help refugees get to nearby countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

For its part, the Commission seems to recognize that the EU must address the root causes of irregular migration for any plan to be effective. The strategies proposed include: modernizing the visa policy, better management of the regular migration and visa policies, and helping countries of origin with development.75


Thus far, the response to the European Commission’s plan has been overwhelmingly negative with respect to the so-called quota system to distribute asylum seekers. France, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and other EU member countries have already come out against the plan.76,77 For its part, the U.K. is not regulated by the European Commission’s plan due to its EU membership agreement, but is also opposed to the proposed quota system.

The opposition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, also known as the visegrad bloc, is especially interesting as they are typically the staunch defenders of the free movement of peoples within the EU.78 They are strongly opposed to the quotas system which would prevent free riding with regard to inward migration while they benefit from the free movement of persons within the EU.79

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"A European Agenda on Migration" Ian Traynor.

Benjamin Tallis, and Michal Simeka, "Europe's Migration Crisis: Central Europe's Dangerous Game." Open Democracy.

May 18, 2015. Accessed June 2, 2015. https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/benjamin-tallis-michalsimecka/europe’s-migration-crisis-central-europe’s-dangero.

Benjamin Tallis, and Michal Simeka.

Benjamin Tallis, and Michal Simeka.


T O T HE The increasing deaths of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea have also drawn wide attention from all parts of the world. On 15 June 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crépeau, presented his report to the UN Human Rights Council. His report was critical of the European Union’s lack of cohesion in its policy towards migrants and the respect of their human rights.

Mr. Crépeau emphasizes in his report that, “given the European Union’s share of global resources and wealth of substantive normative standards, recent deaths at sea and other human rights issues have to be seen as the result of collective political will and policy choices.” This statement rings true in a world where wealth is overwhelmingly accumulated in Western hands. Mr. Crépeau suggests that European Union migration policies are repurposed to ensure a human right based approach.

The findings in the report are especially important, because they reveal many underlying causes of the crisis that are often pushed to the side. One such finding is the decline in migration involving non-EU citizens. According to the estimates of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), there was a 12 percent decrease in the non-European migration to the EU zone in 2012. This is a direct result of policies that have restricted regular migration avenues. As such, as regular migration decreases, irregular migration is increasing.

The report also draws attention to and deplores the increasing use of detention as a form of border control. Long periods of immigration detention serve to disempower migrants who are eager to start working.

The labour of migrants is incredibly important to Europe and the report stresses that. Contrary to widely held beliefs that migrants are stealing jobs from locals, migrants are increasingly contributing at significant levels to European economies by working in less desired positions.

Population trends show an aging Europe and fertility rates below replacement levels. These changes in demographics mean that the European labour force will need migrant workers. A skills gap is also growing across the continent. Again, it can be filled with migrant labour.

Formulating a human rights based and comprehensive migration policy will allow Europe to maintain its economic growth and lead the world in its humanitarian involvements.

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acknowledged that the creation of a common policy throughout its member states remains the best way to tackle migration. They expressed a desire to implement a long term plan that would enhance legal opportunities to migrate to Europe.

A recurring theme in the statements by many developing countries was the need to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Global South as a way to stem migration flows. Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stated that priority had to go to saving living, not policing borders. Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, stressed the importance of a human rights based approach in dealing with irregular migrants. They also called for the integration of migration into the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Several other states asked for root causes of migration to be addressed by strengthening the right to development and especially drew attention to selective migration policies which strip developing countries of their most skilled workers.


European leaders must take into account the factors that drive irregular migration when drafting policies. The European Agenda on Migration is a first step in effectively tackling the wave of migrants, but must not be the last step. EU states are aging and facing low birth rates meaning that they can expect a labour shortage in the near future. 80Migrants will soon be the necessary for Europe’s economic survival and as such, policies must reflect that.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out on 28 May 2015 in response to the European Agenda on Migration, calling out the “disproportionate focus on enforcement, and the militarization of that enforcement”.81 This is a point of serious concern as the EU seeks a UN Security Council resolution to authorise military action towards capturing and destroying the boats of smugglers off the Libyan coast. We must be wary of the use of force in such a fragile situation, because its use in toppling Ghaddafi is what heightened the crisis.

Furthermore, we must question the approach of targeting smugglers without tackling the root cause of migrant smuggling. Smuggling like other businesses works on a supply and demand model; if there was no demand for smugglers, then there would likely not be smugglers.

The High Commissioner also commented on the proposal for the resettlement of 20,000 refugees per year within the EU. That number is wholly inadequate when one looks at the scale of the crisis today. With an estimated 219,000 migrants who crossed the Mediterranean for Europe last year, 20,000 places per year barely scratches the surface of the problem and will likely have little impact on the scores of people willing to travel by boat for Europe.

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Julia Choe.

"High Commissioner Zeid Briefs Council on Burundi, Tunisia, Migration Crises in Europe and South-East Asia and South Sudan," UNOG - The United Nations Office at Geneva, May 26, 2015, Accessed June 2, 2015.

http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/FAE7CEA97F17F470C1257E5100541AC8?Open Document.

Furthermore, it is important for the EU to recognize the inherent ways in which its foreign policies have contributed to the migration crisis. The European Commission makes mention of tackling the root cause of irregular migration in its Agenda, but provides little more than the usual propositions. Increasing development aid means nothing if Europe continues to profit from unfair trade and economic partnerships that impoverish countries. Furthermore, the case of Libya shows the way in which foreign interference in a country’s affairs can have long lasting negative impacts. The removal of Ghaddafi, which may have seemed strategic at the time has caused a long-term problem and tossed Libya into chaos that feeds into the migration crisis, affecting Europe.

Migrants choose Europe as their destination, because of its economic prosperity and social opportunities. As we have examined in this report, the gap between various indicators of economic and social success for Europe and developing countries, especially those in Africa and the Middle East who are producing the largest number of irregular migrants, is large.

Europe has the opportunities that migrants cannot get at home and most importantly for many migrants, it is a safe place to live.

The European Union and more broadly the West, have a responsibility to irregular migrants.

Here it is important to differentiate between the categories of migrants to provide clarity.

Asylum seekers, those who may be granted refugee status after their case is heard, have right which stem from Article 14 of the UDHR, which indicates that everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol outline the specific rights of asylum seekers once they are granted refugee status, but prior to attaining refugee status, asylum seekers like all other person have rights that must be adhered to.

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