By Cristina Gortázar RotaecheNuria Ferré TradUniversity P. Comillas (Madrid)

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on 3 October 2017 in the case N.D and N.T v. Spain (available only in French with a translation in Spanish) that the forced returns at stake amount to prohibited collective expulsions in the sense of article 4 of Protocol nº 4 ECHR and that there has also been a violation of article 13 ECHR in conjunction with the previous protocol.

This judgment is of fundamental importance for Spanish border controls at the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish State Attorney is for that matter considering to ask the case to be referred to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR as explained by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.  N.D. and N.T. are certainly not isolated cases. They are the result of the Spanish legislation and practice on summary returns (devoluciones en caliente) to Morocco from Ceuta and Melilla. Actually, there is currently another pending case before the Court in Doumbe Nnabuchi v. Spain.

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Par Henri LabayleCDRE

Les querelles relatives à l’indépendance de la Catalogne ne sont pas indifférentes à l‘espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice constitué par l’Union européenne. De l’appartenance de la Catalogne au Royaume d’Espagne dépend en effet son appartenance à cette Union européenne et donc son maintien dans cet espace ouvert à la libre circulation et à l’entraide répressive.

Quoi que prétendent les uns ou fantasment les autres, la question n’est pas une question d’opportunité mais, beaucoup plus simplement, de légalité. Légalité du processus entamé par les tenants de l’indépendance, surtout, mais aussi légalité des modalités selon lesquelles l’Union pourrait faire place à une Catalogne indépendante.

Faute de trouver dans le débat médiatique européen le rappel de quelques principes juridiques de bon sens, il n’est pas inutile de faire le point sur une crise inédite.

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By Anja Palm*, Istituto Affari Internazionali

 

On 2 February 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding (English Version**) on development cooperation, illegal immigration, human trafficking, fuel smuggling and reinforcement of border security (hereafter ‘memorandum’ or ‘MoU’), was signed between the Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni and Fayez al-Serraj, Head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.

Cooperation with Libya on migration and border control is not a new policy choice for Italy: during the 2000s numerous agreements focused on curbing migratory flows and enhancing readmission were concluded with the then Gaddafi regime. This partnership was nevertheless suspended in 2012 as a result of both the collapse of the Libyan government due to the outbreak of the civil war and the ECtHR judgment Hirsi Jamaa, which condemned Italy for violating the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of collective expulsions. Continue reading »

By Boldizsár Nagy, Central European University

On 7 March 2017, Hungary required by law the compulsory detention of every single asylum seeker in the transit zones at the border with Serbia. The tightening of the legislation met fierce resistance by UNHCR and other major actors. On 14 March, the European Court of Human Rights declared the detention of two Bangladeshi asylum seekers contrary to the European Convention in the case of Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary. The judgment of the court irritated the Hungarian Government which did not spare its criticism, not only towards the court but also towards the NGOs supporting the cause of asylum seekers and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee representing the respective two applicants in particular.

So the canyon between the European Union and its Member States, united for the maintaining of European (liberal) values, and the ruling party-alliance in Hungary, FIDESZ-KDNP, seems to widen day by day, as shown by the repeated discussion of the Hungarian situation in the European Parliament, for instance on 26 April 2017. Academic commentaries, for example by Maria Gil-Baso also point to the incompatibility of the new rules with EU law. Continue reading »

By Henri LabayleCDRE

The new judicial term of the fall of 2017 had been eagerly anticipated, and the delivery of a judgment in Slovakia and Hungary v. Council on 6 September, was the main reason for this excitement. The debate is well known, that of the refusal of the The Visegrad Group countries to respect the emergency relocation scheme for refugees, initiated by the EU at the height of the Migration Crisis. Two Countries of the group brought a case before the Court of Justice.

Advocate General Bot’s remarkable interpretation of the issue suggested that a landmark decision was in sight. The matter in question, and the nature of the principles invoked, allowed the Court to take a new position. Given the clear and unambiguous nature of the case, the Court could rather easily have addressed the criticism regarding some of the newer Member States’ actions during the 2015 crisis. It even provided an opportunity to settle the uncertainty left by the Court’s earlier jurisprudence on humanitarian visas and the EU Turkey agreement. However, despite the doubts regarding the EU’s projects and values, the Court decided not to take this opportunity to address these issues. Continue reading »

Par Henri LabayleCDRE

La rentrée judiciaire de l’automne 2017 était attendue impatiemment et le prononcé de l’arrêt Slovaquie et Hongrie contre Conseil, le 6 septembre, s’inscrivait en première ligne de cette attente. Le contexte en est connu, celui du refus des pays du groupe de Visegrad de se plier au programme de relocalisation des réfugiés initié au plus fort de la crise migratoire par l’Union. Deux d’entre eux l’avaient porté devant la Cour de justice.

La lecture des remarquables conclusions de l’avocat général Bot laissait entrevoir la possibilité d’un « grand arrêt ». Les enjeux en cause comme la nature des principes invoqués invitaient la Cour à une hauteur de vue à la mesure inverse des arguments développés par les requérants. L’occasion lui était offerte à peu de frais, par un arrêt clair et courageux, de se joindre au concert critique affectant certains nouveaux Etats membres quant à leur comportement lors de la crise de 2015. Peut-être même de réparer l’impression mitigée laissée par sa jurisprudence relative aux visas dits humanitaires et à l’accord UE-Turquie concernant cette période. Elle n’en a pas ressenti la nécessité, dans une Union doutant pourtant de son projet et de ses valeurs, préférant ainsi le biais à l’affirmation et l’omission à la condamnation.

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