Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 28-29 June 2016
At the upcoming European Council, European Union (EU) leaders will discuss the European Commission’s Communication on a new Partnership Framework with third countries. The Communication proposes an approach which aims to leverage existing EU and Member States’ external cooperation instruments and tools in order to stem migration to Europe. The undersigned organisations express their grave concern about the direction the EU is taking by making deterrence and return the main objective of the Union’s relationship with third countries. More broadly, this new Partnership Framework risks cementing a shift towards a foreign policy that serves one single objective, to curb migration, at the expense of European credibility and leverage in defence of fundamental values and human rights.
The proposed approach is inspired by the EU-Turkey deal which although touted as a successful example of cooperation, has actually left thousands people stranded in Greece in inhumane and degrading conditions. This has particularly affected children, with the result that hundreds of unaccompanied children have been held in closed detention facilities on the islands or forced to sleep in police cells on the Greek mainland. The wider repercussions of this should not be underestimated. It is hard to see how Europe can ask partner countries to keep their doors open, to host large-scale refugee populations and prevent further movements while at the same time Member States refuse to shoulder their fair share of responsibility for protecting people who flee their homes. The right to asylum is being significantly undermined, and it will become more and more challenging for civilians in conflict zones to seek international protection.
The Commission’s proposal ignores all the evidence on the ineffectiveness of deterrence strategies aimed at stopping migration. This approach will not only fail to “break the business-model” of smugglers but increase human suffering as people are forced into taking more dangerous routes. Moreover, despite the stated commitment to respect the principle of non-refoulement, there are no safeguards envisaged to ensure that human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms are in place. As a result, people risk being deported to countries where their rights are not safeguarded. Responsibility and liability for human rights violations do not end at Europe’s borders.
We are disappointed to see that once again the emphasis on deterrence leaves no clear commitments to open up safe and regular channels to Europe for those in need of international protection and for other migrants, e.g. through resettlement, humanitarian admission schemes, family reunification, educational visas, labour mobility and visa liberalisation. Resettlement, labour migration and visa liberalisation are only mentioned as possible leverage with partner countries in a quid pro quo approach.
Another major concern is the financing of the proposed Partnership Framework which would represent a wholesale re-orientation of Europe’s development programming towards stopping migration. This is an unacceptable contradiction to the commitment to use development cooperation with the aim to eradicate poverty, as enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Aid is for the benefit of people in need, and should not be used as a leverage for migration control. EU funding should be transparent and adhere to clearly established principles, such as the Busan principles on effectiveness and the Paris principles of ownership by and alignment to partner countries’ strategies. In addition, striking ‘migration management’ agreements with countries where grave human rights violations are committed will be counter-productive in the longer term – undermining human rights around the globe and perpetuating the cycle of abuse and repression that causes people to flee.
Migration has many drivers; people may be on the move in search of new livelihood opportunities, an education or to reunite with family, while conflict and violence, human rights violations, climate change, poverty and unemployment can all trigger migration and forced displacement. Any cooperation to manage migration should take into consideration this complex and multi-faceted reality, be evidence and needs-based, and ensure that the benefits of migration are maximised and the risks are mitigated.
If the EU wants to call for more global solidarity, it needs to set the right example. The EU, a project built on the rubble of a devastating war, is about to embark on a dark chapter of its history. We urge EU leaders to choose a rights-based system to manage migration, based on a viable long-term strategic vision, rather than pursuing an unattainable and inhumane deterrence objective and thereby abandoning its core founding principles.
As human rights, humanitarian, medical, migration and development agencies, and key implementing partners of development programmes in third countries, we call on European leaders to:
- Reject the current Commission Communication and develop a sustainable long-term and evidence-based strategy for migration management, in consultation with civil society and experts.
- Facilitate safe mobility by opening and strengthening safe and regular channels to Europe both for those in need of international protection and other migrants including through resettlement, humanitarian admission and humanitarian visas, family reunification, worker mobility across skill levels and student visas. Member States must commit to clear benchmarks and appropriate timelines for implementing a migration framework that meets the needs of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, their families, as well as the needs and obligations of Member States.
- Exclude any conditionality based on migration control indicators in the allocation of development aid to third countries. Development aid is a tool to fight poverty and inequality, not to manage migration. Vulnerable populations should not be punished because of concerns that are largely political.
- Stop any readmissions or removals of people by the EU to a third country that violate – or risk violating – fundamental rights and rule of law, including the principle of non-refoulement. Ensure access to protection, justice and effective remedy for all people in migration and asylum procedures.
- Ensure transparency in the development of any instruments to manage migration and accountability for human rights violations resulting from EU migration policies.
- Commit to a foreign policy and action focused on preventing and unlocking protracted crises. While the Communication mentions the need to address root causes of displacement in the long term, it does not include engagement to prevent and manage crises.
|1. ACT Alliance EU|
|3. Afrique Culture Maroc|
|4. Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme|
|5. Aid Services|
|6. Amnesty International|
|8. Asgi – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione|
|9. Asociacion por ti mujer|
|10. Asociacion Salud y Familia – Spain|
|11. Association for action against violence and trafficking in human beings-Open Gate La Strada Macedonia.|
|12. Association for the Social Support of Youth|
|13. Ayuda en Acción|
|14. British Refugee Council|
|16. Care International|
|17. CCOO de Andalucia|
|18. Centre for Youths Integrated Development.|
|19. Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos PRO IGUAL|
|20. ChildFund Alliance|
|21. Church of Sweden|
|22. Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe|
|23. Citizens’ association for combating trafficking in human beings and all forms of gender-based violence|
|25. Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado –CEAR-|
|26. Concern Worldwide|
|27. CONCORD Sweden|
|28. Conseil des Béninois de France|
|29. Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic|
|30. Coordinadora Andaluza de ONGD|
|31. Coordinadora Cantabra de ONGD|
|32. Coordinadora de ONGD de la Región de Murcia|
|33. Coordinadora de ONGD del Principado de Asturias|
|34. Coordinadora de ONGD España|
|35. Coordinadora de ONGD Navarra|
|36. Coordinadora Extremeña de ONGD|
|37. Coordinadora Gallega de ONGD|
|38. Coordinadora ONGD de Castilla y León|
|39. Coordinadora Valenciana de ONGD|
|41. Detention Action|
|42. Detention Forum|
|43. Doctors of the World International network|
|44. EU-CORD Network|
|46. EuroMed Rights|
|47. European Association for the Defence of Human Rights|
|48. European Council on Refugees and Exiles|
|49. European Youth Forum|
|50. Federación Aragonesa de ONGD|
|51. Federación de Asociaciones de Derechos Humanos|
|52. Federation of Christian NGOs in Italy|
|55. FIZ advocacy and support for migrant women and victims of trafficking|
|56. Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen e.V.|
|57. Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale issues des Migrations|
|58. Fundacion 1º de Mayo de Comisiones Obreras|
|59. Fundación Alianza por los Derechos, la Igualdad y la Solidaridad Internacional –APS-|
|60. Greek Forum of Refugees|
|61. Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa|
|62. Handicap International|
|63. Human Rights Watch|
|64. Human Rights Without Frontiers|
|65. Instituto Sindical de Cooperación al Desarrollo –ISCOD-|
|68. Islamic Relief UK|
|69. Jesuit Refugee Service Europe.|
|70. Justice and Peace Netherlands|
|71. KISA-Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism|
|72. Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission|
|73. La Strada International|
|74. Lafede.cat – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global|
|75. Le Monde des Possibles|
|76. Macedonian Young Lawyers Association|
|77. Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants|
|78. Migrant Voice UK|
|79. Migrants’ Rights Network|
|80. Movimiento contra la Intolerancia|
|81. Movimiento por la Paz –MPDL-|
|82. Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre|
|83. Norwegian Refugee Council|
|86. Pax Christi International|
|87. PICUM-Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants|
|88. Plan International EU office|
|89. Platform Minors in exile / Plate-forme Mineurs en exil / Platform Kinderen op de vlucht (Belgium)|
|90. Red Acoge|
|91. Réseau de Compétences Solidaires – Groupement d’Economie Sociale et Solidaire France – Europe – Afrique|
|92. Réseau Immigration Développement Démocratie – IDD|
|93. Save the Children|
|94. SOS Children’s Villages International|
|95. SOS Racisme – Touche pas à mon pote|
|96. Swedish Refugee Advice Centre|
|97. Télécoms Sans Frontières|
|98. Terre des Hommes International Federation|
|99. The International Federation of Social Workers European Region|
|100. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture victims|
|101. the Norwegian Centre Against Racism|
|103. World Vision Brussels and EU Representation|