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By Delphine Rodrik, legal advisor at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

24 June 2022 revealed, yet again, the devastating consequences of European border control when at least 27 migrants and asylum-seekers lost their lives attempting to enter Melilla, one of two Spanish enclaves bordering Morocco. Video footage from that day documented Spanish officers handing back those who entered directly to Moroccan officers, as well as Moroccan border guards beating individuals who lay weak or lifeless on the Moroccan side of the border fence. Many others remain missing nearly three months after the tragedy. Yet placing the emphasis on state security, the Spanish Prime Minister framed the events as “a violent attack on the territorial integrity of the country,” and government officials pointed to the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) 2020 decision in ND and NT v. Spain as a justification of its so-called “rechazos en frontera” (or border rejections) to Morocco. 

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By Tesseltje de Lange, Professor of European Migration Law, Director of the Centre for Migration Law, Radboud University Nijmegen.

In its communication of 27 April 2022, the European Commission makes a political and economic case for a sustainable and common approach to labour migration. Indeed, most EU member states face ageing populations who require care, and post-covid-19 labour shortages are on the rise jeopardising the green transition. One of the legislative proposals tabled by the European Commission is a recast of the Single Permit Directive. Although the European Commission had contemplated conditions for admission for low- and medium-skilled workers in the new pact, this idea was abandoned. Admission conditions of low and medium-skilled workers are sufficiently addressed by national legislation, is the feedback the Commission received from the Member States.

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By Karin Aberg, Doctoral Candidate in International Law at the University of Gothenburg.

Between 2016 and 2019, most asylum seekers on the Greek hotspots had to undergo a vulnerability  assessment. If found vulnerable, they were exempted from return to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Agreement and free to travel to the Greek mainland. Two groups were concerned. First, those who would not be safe in the third country; Second, those who for personal reasons cannot be managed through camps and border procedures, due to physical or social circumstances.

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By Vera Wriedt, PhD researcher at Hertie School’s Centre for Fundamental Rights.

This blog post was first published by Strasbourg Observers.

The closure of the Greek-Macedonian border on 8 March 2016 entailed systematic pushbacks. The largest operation occurred on 14-15 March 2016, when more than 1500 refugees were summarily returned from North Macedonia to Greece. The complaint of AA and others v North Macedonia addressed this large-scale pushback operation. However, instead of condemning these pushbacks, the European Court of Human Rights expanded the exception from the prohibition of collective expulsions created in the case of ND and NT v Spain and found the applicants culpable of circumventing legal pathways, ignoring that these were clearly not available in practice. Thereby, the Court reproduces exclusionary reasoning that has shaped the European Convention on Human Rights since its inception.

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By Stéphane Saurel, Professor at Université Saint-Louis (Bruxelles), at Université catholique de Louvain, and author of the book Le budget de l’Union européenne (La Documentation française, 2018)

The budgetary scrutiny is one of the most powerful cards the European Parliament can play to make effective its oversight over a decentralised agency. The budgetary discharge procedure is indeed an instrumental tool to enhance the political accountability of the agencies. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) provides a good illustration of how the European Parliament uses this power as, from the second year in a row, it withheld its approval of the management of the agency’s budget. By contrast, the budgetary procedure offers to the European Parliament less possibility to influence the functioning of an agency.

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By Nikolas Feith Tan, Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

Introduction

The UK-Rwanda Asylum Partnership Agreement (APA) is the latest in a line of cooperative asylum arrangements that seek to shift asylum responsibility from destination states in the Global North to countries in the developing world. Such arrangements are generally for the purpose of deterring and deflecting protection seekers and, as such, the APA should be understood as a form of externalisation, an umbrella concept for the efforts of certain states to externalise certain basic functions (in this case asylum processing and protection) in the areas of border control and asylum.

It is important to locate the APA in its broader practice of related (but not identical) arrangements, which include US third country processing of intercepted asylum seekers at Guantanamo Bay, Australian-led attempts at third country processing and protection in Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG), the EU-Turkey Statement, Israel’s ‘voluntary departure’ programmes involving the transfer of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda, and the short-lived US-Guatemala Asylum Cooperation Arrangement. Almost 20 years on, the APA also resonates with the UK’s ‘New Vision for Refugees’, which included the processing of asylum seekers in transit states after arrival in the EU. And most recently, the UK would appear to have beaten Denmark to the line in announcing a transfer arrangement with Rwanda, a policy vision reflected in Danish legislation since June 2021.

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