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By Janine Prantl, Visiting Scholar at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and Ian Matthew Kysel, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School

This blog post was first published by The European Journal of International Law.

More than 5 million refugees have recently fled Ukraine, the fastest-growing mass displacement in this century. About a quarter of Ukraine’s population and half of its children have fled their homes. The European Union (EU) responded with a first-time activation of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD). Lurking behind tremendous generosity, States have treated arrivals from Ukraine differently than other recent flows of forced migrants and have also treated some fleeing Ukraine differently than others. Although differential treatment is not always discriminatory under human rights law, some State responses to the current crisis arguably have been. Fortunately, the law creates myriad ways to challenge these violations. Using this law in the courts, we argue, could foster better protection of refugees and other migrants in the current crisis and in the future, strengthening non-discrimination’s rightful place as a key tool for advancing the rights of people crossing borders.

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By Dr. Maja Grundler, PhD researcher at Queen Mary University of London, and Elspeth Guild, Professor at Queen Mary University of London

On 14 April 2022, the UK government published a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded with the government of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement. The MoU foresees the transfer ‘of asylum seekers whose claims are not being considered by the United Kingdom, to Rwanda, which will process their claims and settle or remove (as appropriate) individuals after their claim is decided.’ 

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By Tamás Molnár, Legal research officer, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Visiting lecturer, Corvinus University of Budapest.

 

Setting the scene

In the field of border management, following the concept of European Integrated Border Management as set out in Article 3 of the new European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) Regulation (EU) 2019/1896, EU Member States have been intensifying their cooperation either with third countries, or under the authority of third countries, or even operating in third countries. 

As a recent report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights outlined, these diverse forms of cooperation include: 

1) posting document experts or immigration liaison officers at third country airports to assist airlines in checking passengers before embarkation; 

2) the presence of EU Member State officials on third-country vessels patrolling the sea; 

3) EU Member State vessels patrolling the territorial waters of a third country based on a bilateral agreement (e.g. Spain has concluded such agreements with Senegal and with Mauritania); 

4) sharing information with the neighbouring third country and requesting it to intercept people before they cross the border; as well as 

5) providing border management capacity building activities (e.g. training, technical assistance with equipment, intelligence and even financing) in third countries (e.g. Italy supporting the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy under their bilateral Memorandum of Understanding).

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Par Corinne Delon-Desmoulin, Maître de conférences en droit public HDR-CE, Université Rennes 2.

Le Parlement européen a finalement décidé le 21 octobre 2021 (2020/2167(DEC)) d’accorder la décharge sur les comptes 2019 de l’agence Frontex après avoir ajourné celle-ci le 28 avril 2021. Sur base de la recommandation de la commission du contrôle budgétaire et de l’avis rendu par la commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures, l’assemblée plénière avait décidé de reporter sa décision de décharge du budget 2019 de Frontex par 528 voix contre 127 et 43 abstentions. Toutefois, la décharge accordée s’apparente davantage à un sursis accordé à Frontex qu’à un réel quitus.

Conformément aux articles 105 à 107 du règlement financier-cadre 2019/715 des organismes visés à l’article 70 du règlement financier général 2018/1046 et à l’article 76, §11 du règlement instituant l’Agence, chaque année, avant le 15 mai de l’année n+2, le Parlement doit donner « décharge » au directeur exécutif de celle-ci sur l’exécution du budget de l’année n. Sur recommandation du Conseil, il se prononce sur base du rapport de sa commission du contrôle budgétaire établi à partir de l’examen des comptes et des états financiers de l’Agence, du rapport annuel de la Cour des comptes sur les agences et des éventuels rapports spéciaux ainsi que de la déclaration d’assurance et de fiabilité des comptes fournie par la Cour. 

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By Jessica Schultz, Senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute, Kari Anne Drangsland, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bergen, Marry-Anne Karlsen, Researcher at the University of Bergen,  Julia Kienast, Postdoctoral Researcher at Aarhus UniversityNikolas Feith Tan, Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights and Jens Vedsted-Hansen, Professor at Aarhus University.

Researchers in the TemPro project: Temporary Protection as a Durable Solution? The ‘Return Turn’ in Asylum Policies in Europe

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised urgent questions concerning how European countries should respond to people fleeing the war. While the initial response seems to be one of open borders and expressions of solidarity, calls to provide collective, temporary protection have been buzzing from Brussels to Oslo. The Council of the European Union unanimously decided on March 4 to activate, for the first time, the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive (TPD). In Norway, meanwhile, the government has decided to apply a long-dormant provision in the Immigration Act, §34 on ‘collective protection’. In Denmark, the government is preparing special legislation based on the TPD.

Who is fleeing the war in Ukraine? 

At the time of writing, over 2 million people have fled the Russian invasion. With Ukrainian adult males subject to the military draft, the first groups of refugees have mostly been women, children, the elderly and foreign nationals. Among the foreign nationals in the immediate outflow are non-Ukrainians from a diverse array of countries, including Moroccans, Chinese, Indians, Latin Americans amongst others, some of whom had been attending Ukrainian universities. At the start of the war, at least 5,000 refugees from countries such as Afghanistan and Syria were also living in Ukraine. There have been worrying reports of racist treatment of Black, South Asian and Mediterranean refugees at the border with Poland. 

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By Daniel Thym, Professor of European and International Law and Director of the Research Centre Immigration & Asylum Law, University of Konstanz, Germany.

Unusual times are said to call for unusual measures. The war of aggression against Ukraine, and the departure of literally millions of citizens within a few days have triggered an unprecedented wave of solidarity. UNHCR estimates that up to four million Ukrainians may seek refuge in neighbouring countries in the coming months. More than 150 thousand people are crossing the external borders each day. Member States are experiencing what Turkey and Lebanon witnessed in the early phases of the Syrian civil war: neighbouring states are the first countries of refuge.

Activating the Temporary Protection Directive 2001/55/EC was a smart and pragmatic response of the EU institutions. Member States unanimously agreed to do so at the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Thursday, 3 March 2022. The final text of Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 was published the following day.

The Many Advantages of Temporary Protection

Recourse to this old Directive, which had not been activated a single time beforehand, has two main advantages. Firstly, it prevents an overstretch of scarce administrative resources. Beneficiaries will receive a protection status without the need to go through long and complex asylum procedures. Doing so would have taken weeks, if not months. State authorities can concentrate on the reception of beneficiaries instead.

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