26. Januar 2017 · Kommentare deaktiviert für EU, Libyen: Schmutziger Deal geplatzt · Kategorien: EU, Italien, Libyen, Malta · Tags: ,

Die EU-Kommission hat gestern den italienisch-maltesischen Plan eines schmutzigen EU-Deals mit Libyen fallen gelassen. Der Plan sah vor, dass EU-Kriegsschiffe die libyschen Häfen blockieren und die libysche Küstenwache alle abgefangenen Boat-people an das libysche Festland zurücknimmt. Aber auch auf längere Sicht wird es keine libysche Küstenwache geben. Stattdessen prägen verfeindete Milizen in den Küstengewässern das Bild. Zudem nimmt die libysche Kritik an der wachsenden italienischen Machtpräsenz in Libyen zu. Ohne libysche Partner wagt die EU keine systematischen Push-Back-Operationen im zentralen Mittelmeer. – In den vergangenen Monaten ist ebenfalls der EU-Plan gescheitert, abgefangene Boat-people in Lager nach Tunesien, Ägypten oder gar nach Algerien oder Marokko zu verbringen.

Quelle: MaltaToday | 25.01.2017

European Commission shoots down migration deal with Libya

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos rules out repeat of EU-Turkey migration deal with Libya, tells MEPs North African country is too unstable

Jurgen Balzan

The European Commission all but ruled out a migration deal with Libya which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said was urgently needed to stem the flow of asylum seekers towards Europe. EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs that the North African country is too unstable to replicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal with Libya. „Let me tell you that we cannot duplicate the EU-Turkey statement, the situation is not similar in Libya,“ Avramopoulos said.

The proposal was floated by Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat earlier this month as he kicked off Malta’s six month term as president of the EU, but the Commission has echoed the concerns aired by Maltese foreign affairs minister George Vella who also underlined the instability in Libya as a stumbling block towards reaching an agreement with the troubled nation.

The EU last March agreed with Turkey to halt migrants from moving to the EU in return for billions in humanitarian aid and political perks, such as visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals.

Addressing the European Parliament last week, Muscat called for a similar agreement and said that after paying Libya to stem the flow of migrants leaving its shores by boat, the EU can look into organising “humanitarian safe passages and corridors, that would get recognised asylum seekers to Europe safely.”

Government sources said that any deal with Libya “must include strong investment and an aid package, while technical assistance should also be provided” – a suggestion that raises the prospect of money for Libya and the possibility of European coastguard patrols placed just outside Libyan waters to take part in the interception of migrant boats.

But Avramopoulos said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had tried, without much success, to establish contact with Libyan authorities. Currently three separate governments and countless militias are vying for control in Libya.

Libya’s lawless state, following the toppling of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has left criminal gangs of migrant smugglers free to send a stream of boats carrying desperate migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

„We are far away from saying that we have managed to have a real discussion with them,“ he said.

He said some 300,000 people are waiting for the right time to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Italy.

„The country is still open as a corridor to all the ones who exploit the desperate people and right now, according to reports, more than 300,000 people are on the shores of Libya,“ he said.

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siehe auch: Times of Malta | 25.01.2017

EU says it cannot replicate EU-Turkey migrants deal with Libya

Idea had been suggested by Joseph Muscat

The European Commission has come out against ideas to replicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal with Libya, an idea floated by Joseph Muscat, the EU Observer reported today.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs in the civil liberties committee that Libya was too unstable.

„Let me tell you that we cannot duplicate the EU-Turkey statement, the situation is not similar in Libya,“ he said.

The EU last March agreed with Turkey to halt migrants from moving to the EU in return for billions in humanitarian aid and political perks, such as visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals.

Migration is set to feature in an EU leaders‘ summit in Malta on Friday week.

EU efforts to work with the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, the GNA, have fallen foul of the difficult security situation in the country, where local warlords, militias, and tribal groups continue to undermine the GNA’s authority, EU Observer said.

Avramopoulos said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had tried, without much success, to establish contact with the Libyan authorities.

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siehe auch: NZZ | 25.01.2017

Brüssel sucht nach einem libyschen Deal

Die EU will die Migration auf der zentralen Mittelmeerroute begrenzen. Doch noch wirkt der Plan, wonach die libysche Küstenwache Migranten neu direkt an der Küste an der Abfahrt hindern soll, vage.

von Niklaus Nuspliger, Brüssel

Ursprünglich hätten die EU-Regierungschefs am 3. Februar am Gipfel in der maltesischen Hauptstadt Valletta nur über die Zukunft nach dem Brexit beraten wollen. Doch nun ist mit der Flüchtlingskrise ein Thema hinzugekommen, das laut dem maltesischen Ministerpräsidenten Joseph Muscat sofortiges Handeln erfordert. Muscat hatte zum Auftakt der maltesischen EU-Rats-Präsidentschaft vor rekordhohen Flüchtlingszahlen auf der zentralen Mittelmeerroute im Frühling gewarnt und darum die Übertragung des EU-Türkei-Deals auf Libyen gefordert.

Kosten von 3,2 Millionen Euro

Der Deal mit der Türkei ist zwar rechtlich problematisch, hat aber seinen Zweck erfüllt und die Flüchtlingszahlen in Griechenland letztes Jahr fast zum Versiegen gebracht. Über die zentrale Mittelmeerroute gelangte 2016 derweil die Rekordzahl von 180 000 Bootsmigranten nach Europa, 90 Prozent von ihnen starteten die Überfahrt in Libyen. Doch als die EU-Aussenbeauftragte Federica Mogherini am Mittwoch Vorschläge der Kommission für den Valletta-Gipfel präsentierte, betonte sie, dass die Lage in der Türkei nicht mit jener in Syrien vergleichbar sei. Der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan errichtet einen autoritären Staat, der aber aus EU-Sicht noch als «sicherer Drittstaat» gilt, in den man Flüchtlinge gegebenenfalls zurückschicken kann. Libyen hat das gegenteilige Problem zerfallener staatlicher Strukturen sowie einer schwachen Einheitsregierung und kann daher nicht als sicher gelten.

Da es der EU ohne eklatanten Bruch des Völkerrechts nicht möglich sein wird, Migranten nach Libyen zurückzuschicken, will sie in erster Linie dafür sorgen, dass diese die Küste gar nicht erst verlassen. Italien ist diesbezüglich bereits in Kontakt mit der Einheitsregierung von Ministerpräsident Sarraj. Malta schwebt vor, dass die EU-Marine-Operation Sophia in libyschen Territorialgewässern gegen Schlepper vorginge.

Dafür wäre eine Einladung Libyens nötig, wozu Sarraj bisher weder den Willen noch die politische Autorität zeigte. Die Kommission setzt darum auf die intensivierte Ausbildung der libyschen Küstenwache, wofür sie laut Mogherini 3,2 Millionen Euro lockermachen will. Ein Teil der Gelder soll in ein «Seahorse» genanntes Programm fliessen, das die Küstenwachen der Mittelmeerstaaten vernetzt. Schiffe der Mission Sophia, der Frontex-Operation Triton oder die italienische Küstenwache könnten den libyschen Grenzwächtern bei der Ortung von Flüchtlingsbooten helfen. Würden die Boote direkt an der libyschen Küste aufgegriffen, wären die europäischen Schiffe nicht mehr für die Rettung der Migranten verantwortlich, weshalb die Schiffbrüchigen auch nicht mehr nach Italien gebracht würden.

Zweifelhafte Kooperation

In Libyen selber will die EU-Kommission enger mit dem Uno-Hochkommissariat für Flüchtlinge und mit der Internationalen Organisation für Migration zusammenarbeiten, um die katastrophalen Bedingungen für Migranten zu verbessern und die freiwillige Rückkehr in die Herkunftsstaaten zu fördern. Auch ihre Mission im Süden Libyens an der Grenze zu Niger und Tschad will die EU ausbauen, damit weniger Migranten über die Wüste einreisen. Im Kreis der EU-Staaten gibt es aber erhebliche Zweifel an der Tragfähigkeit einer Lösung, die auf die Kooperation mit den fragilen und korruptionsanfälligen libyschen Behörden abstützt. Moskaus Unterstützung für den Warlord Khalifa Haftar zeigt zudem, wie instabil das Land auf absehbare Zeit bleiben wird.

Die Mehrheit der Migranten im zentralen Mittelmeer hat in Europa kein Bleiberecht, eine signifikante Minderheit flüchtet aber vor Krieg und Verfolgung. Menschenrechtsaktivisten kritisieren, Verfolgte könnten in Europa kaum noch Asyl beantragen. Im Dilemma zwischen rechtlichen und moralischen Pflichten und dem politischen Ziel der Eindämmung der Flüchtlingsströme betonte Mogherini, die Lebensrettung bleibe prioritär, zumal viele Menschen direkt vor Libyens Küste ertränken. Der Sprecher des ungarischen Regierungschefs und migrationspolitischen Hardliners Viktor Orban erklärte Anfang Woche in Brüssel derweil zufrieden, die Suche nach einem Deal mit Libyen zeige, dass es in der EU-Flüchtlingspolitik abgesehen von der Verteilungsfrage immer weniger Differenzen gebe.

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siehe auch: EUObserver | 26.01.2017

No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission

By NIKOLAJ NIELSEN

The European Commission has come out against ideas to replicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal with Libya.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Tuesday (24 January) that the north African state is too unstable.The European Commission has come out against ideas to replicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal with Libya.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Tuesday (24 January) that the north African state is too unstable.

„Let me tell you that we cannot duplicate the EU-Turkey statement, the situation is not similar in Libya,“ he said.

The proposal was floated by Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat earlier this month.

The Maltese EU presidency, which is chairing member states’ talks on migration policy for the next six months, also said it would look into the possibility.

The EU last March agreed with Turkey to halt migrants from moving to the EU in return for billions in humanitarian aid and political perks, such as visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals.

The deal led migrants to turn to the Libya-Italy sea corridor in greater numbers.

But EU efforts to work with the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, the GNA, have fallen foul of the difficult security situation in the country, where local warlords, militias, and tribal groups continue to undermine the GNA’s authority.

Avramopoulos said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had tried, without much success, to establish contact with the Libyan authorities.

„We are far away from saying that we have managed to have a real discussion with them,“ he said.

He said some 300,000 people are waiting for the right time to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Italy.

„The country is still open as a corridor to all the ones who exploit the desperate people and right now, according to reports, more than 300,000 people are on the shores of Libya,“ he said.

Road to Europe

The EU commission is instead putting emphasis on the so-called partnership frameworks with Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia as part of a broader effort to address root causes of irregular migration flows towards Europe.

Results remain mixed following last summer’s launch, said Avramopoulos.

The commissioner said Niger is cooperating well in terms of fighting smugglers and „preventing trans-migration“ – migrant crossings of internal African borders on the transit route to Europe.

Nigeria is also cooperating on returns of rejected migrants and negotiating a readmission agreement with the EU.

Ethiopia, Mali, and Senegal are posing problems, however.

Avramopoulos described cooperation with all three states as being ”limited and somehow unpredictable” in nature.

He said that Senegal had started working with Italy on returns, but suddenly ”cancelled all the agreed … missions.“

Mali has refused to carry out such missions. It has also declined to sign a return agreement.

Laissez-passer

Last December, it rejected and returned two people dispatched by France. Bamako says it will not accept people assumed to have come from the country without proof.

French authorities had resorted to European travel permits or „laissez-passer“ laws to return the two rejected asylum seekers.

Use of such permits triggered resentment by African states when the EU put forward the idea at the Valletta migrant summit in 2015.

„Ethiopia is progressing, but very slowly,“ said Avramopoulos without offering more detail.

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European Commission, Press Release

Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion

Brussels, 25 January 2017

Ahead of the meeting of Heads of State or Government in Malta on 3 February 2017, the Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President have today set out their contribution to the discussion on how to better manage migration and save lives along the Central Mediterranean route.

The Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President are presenting a number of additional measures to strengthen the EU’s work along this route, in particular with and around Libya. These actions are focused on fighting human smuggling and trafficking networks, helping to manage migratory flows more effectively, continuing to save lives at sea and improving the living conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and neighbouring countries.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: „Too many people are still dying in the Mediterranean. We have implemented actions to address the situation but we need to do more. Today we are presenting possible short and medium term actions to address the flows to and from North Africa. First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required. While continuing our support to this process, we can take forward actions to help make a difference, save lives and break the smugglers‘ and traffickers‘ business model – which will also impact the flows towards Europe.“

Since 2015, the resources and assets for EU operations at sea have tripled, contributing to saving more than 400,000 people in the Mediterranean. However, the increase in migration along the Central Mediterranean route, where over 181,000 migrants and refugees arrived to the EU in 2016, has also led to record levels of loss of life at sea. To help prevent this human tragedy from continuing in 2017, the Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President are identifying operational, short term actions to be taken in cooperation with Member States in relation to the Central Mediterranean route. Part of a comprehensive strategy, the actions proposed take into account the wider regional context (in particular Libyan’s southern border, as well as Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria) whilst putting a strong focus on Libya, representing the departure point for 90% of those seeking to travel to Europe.

Building on the European Agenda on Migration and the work undertaken under the Migration Partnership Framework aimed at strengthening cooperation on migration with partner countries, key objectives include:

  • Reducing the number of crossings and saving lives by enhancing ongoing support, including through EUNAVFOR Operation Sophia, to the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, including through expanding the training activities through an immediate €1 million addition to the Seahorse programme and a grant of €2.2 million under the Regional Development and Protection Programme in North Africa and establishing a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre;
  • Stepping up the fight against smugglers and traffickers by ensuring an operational ‚Seahorse Mediterranean‘ Network by Spring 2017 to strengthen the border authorities of North African countries and allow better operational cooperation amongst them;
  • Protecting migrants, increasing resettlement and promoting assisted voluntary returns, by supporting UNHCR work with the Libyan authorities to address the situation of persons in need of international protection, supporting IOM in improving the situation of migrants in Libya and expanding its assisted voluntary returns programme from Libya to countries of origin;
  • Managing migrant flows through the southern Libyan border by deploying the full range of EU missions and projects to support the Libyan authorities in border management and migrant protection, promoting dialogue between Libya and its neighbours and maintaining the momentum of results with Niger under the Partnership Framework;
  • Increasing dialogue and operational cooperation with partners in North Africa on migration management;
  • Stepping up funding from the EU Trust Fund for Africa by mobilising €200 million for projects in 2017 to support actions such as training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard, improving the conditions for migrants and stepping up assisted voluntary returns.

These efforts require concerted action by the EU institutions and Member States, relevant partners in North Africa, as well as cooperation with international organisations active in the region, such as the UNHCR and the IOM. The Commission and High Representative/Vice-President recommend that the Heads of State or Government meeting in Malta on 3 February endorse the operational actions outlined above.

Background

The European Union and its Member States have progressively laid out a stronger and more articulated policy response to save lives and better manage migratory flows in the Central Mediterranean.

In 2015, the Commission presented a broad European Agenda on Migration. A permanent EU presence at sea has since been established, rescuing hundreds of thousands of people. Following the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015, the EU has stepped up its cooperation with partners in Africa, including through the Migration Partnership Framework, launched in June 2016, which has taken cooperation with key countries of origin and transit to a new level.

An External Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood has also been created to support this new approach and has the potential to raise €44 billion in investments – and up to €88 billion if Member States contribute.

The European Union’s support to rights-based migration management in Libya includes capacity-building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard, as well in supporting the Libyan authorities (GNA) in providing essential services to the Libyan population, displaced persons, migrants and refugees through ongoing programmes worth over €20 million. The EU further supports Libya through its Common Security and Defence missions such as EUNAVFOR Med Operation SOPHIA and EUBAM Libya.

For more information:

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European Commission, Press Release

Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months

Brussels, 25 January 2017

The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months.

Despite the progressive stabilisation of the situation and the implementation of a series of measures proposed by the Commission to better manage the external borders and protect the Schengen area, the Commission considers that the conditions of the „Back to Schengen“ Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area have not yet been entirely fulfilled.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: „Significant progress has been made to lift internal border controls, but we need to solidify it further. This is why we recommend allowing the Member States concerned to maintain temporary border controls for a further three months.“

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: „Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of EU integration, which we must not take for granted. The European Commission is and remains fully committed to work with Member States in gradually phasing out temporary internal border controls and return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area without internal border control as soon as possible. While over the past months we have been continuously strengthening our measures to address the unprecedented migratory pressure that Europe is facing, we are not there yet unfortunately. That is why we recommend that the Council allows Member States to continue limited temporary internal border controls for another three months, under strict conditions, and only as a last resort.“

In the past months there has been important progress when it comes to securing and better managing the external borders and reducing irregular migration: With the new European Border and Coast Guard established since 6 October 2016, the means are being put in place to better protect the external borders of the EU and to react to new developments. With the establishment of the hotspot system, the registration and fingerprinting of migrants arriving in Greece and Italy has now reached a rate of almost 100%. The upcoming systematic checks against relevant databases for all people crossing the external border, as proposed by the Commission, will further contribute to strengthening the external borders. In addition, the EU-Turkey Statement has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the EU.

However, a significant number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers still remain in Greece and the situation remains fragile on the Western Balkans route, entailing a potential risk of secondary movements. Furthermore, despite important improvements in the management of the external borders, some of the actions identified by the „Back to Schengen“ Roadmap require more time to be fully implemented and to deliver the expected results. As of February 2017, European Border and Coast Guard operations will assist Greece at the Northern Greek external border. The trend of steady delivery of results of the EU-Turkey Statement needs to be continued and the full application of the Dublin rules in Greece gradually restored as of mid-March. Despite important progress, ongoing work and the situation on the ground point towards the persistence of these exceptional circumstances. The Commission therefore finds it justified on a precautionary basis to allow the Member States concerned, and only after having examined alternative measures, to prolong the current limited internal border controls as an exceptional measure for a further limited period of three months under strict conditions. In particular, any such controls must be targeted and limited in scope, frequency, location and time to what is strictly necessary.

The controls concern the same internal borders as those recommended by the Council on 11 November 2016:

  • Austria: at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land border;
  • Germany: at the German-Austrian land border;
  • Denmark: in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border;
  • Sweden: in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge;
  • Norway: in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Next Steps

The Council needs to take a decision based on this proposal for a Recommendation.

The necessity, frequency, location and time of the controls should continue being reviewed weekly, with the controls adjusted to the level of the threat addressed and phased out when appropriate. Member States continue to be obliged to report promptly on a monthly basis to the Commission on the necessity of the controls being carried out.

The Commission also recognises that new security challenges have arisen in the past years, as demonstrated by the recent terrorist attack in Berlin. In this respect, whilst the current legal framework has been sufficient to address the challenges faced until now, the Commission is reflecting on whether it is sufficiently adapted to address evolving security challenges.

Background

The combination of serious deficiencies in the management of the external border by Greece at that time and the significant number of unregistered migrants and asylum seekers present in Greece who may have sought to move irregularly to other Member States, created exceptional circumstances constituting a serious threat to public policy and internal security and endangering the overall functioning of the Schengen area. These exceptional circumstances led to the triggering of the safeguard procedure of Article 29 of the Schengen Borders Code and the adoption of the Council Recommendation on 12 May 2016 to maintain temporary proportionate controls at certain internal Schengen borders in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway for a period of six months.

On 25 October 2016, the Commission proposed to allow Member States to maintain the temporary internal border controls at the same internal borders for a further period of 3 months, with stricter conditions and a detailed monthly reporting obligation on the outcome of the results for the Member States concerned. Despite the progressive stabilisation of the situation, the Commission considered that the conditions of the „Back to Schengen“ Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area are yet entirely fulfilled. On 11 November 2016, the Council adopted the Commission proposal.

The Commission’s proposal for a Recommendation is without prejudice to additional possibilities available to all Member States, including the five affected Member States, under the general rules for temporary reintroduction of internal border control in the event of another serious threat to public policy or internal security, not linked to the serious deficiencies in the management of the external border. For example during the period of application of the Recommendation of 12 May 2016, France, not concerned by this Recommendation, notified the reintroduction and subsequent maintenance of border controls at its internal borders based on grounds related to foreseeable events and terrorist threats.

For more information

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European Commission – Fact Sheet

Questions & Answers: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route

Brussels, 25 January 2017

What has the Commission adopted today?

The European Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President presented today a number of additional measures to strengthen the work along the Central Mediterranean migration route, including with and around Libya. With the high number of lives lost at sea and along the Central Mediterranean migration route, the question of managing flows and saving lives remains a top priority for the European Union. The Joint Communication presented today outlines possible short and medium term actions to address migration in relation to the Central Mediterranean in a comprehensive way.

What are the main actions proposed?

While the EU continues its support to bring about political stability, the Communication proposes a set of concrete operational actions to help address the situation along the Central Mediterranean migration route. The success of these actions requires close cooperation with the relevant partners in North Africa and concerted efforts by EU institutions, Member States, as well as cooperation with International Organisations like the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Some of the proposed actions can only be successfully implemented if the situation on the ground allows for it. They should be seen as complementary to the substantial amount of initiatives already being implemented by the EU and its Member States, notably under the European Agenda on Migration and the Migration Partnership Framework. The proposed actions include:

  • Reducing the number of crossings and saving lives at sea
  • Expand the training programmes for the Libyan Coast Guard through an immediate €1 million addition to the Seahorse programme and a grant of €2.2 million under the Regional Development and Protection Programme in North Africa;
  • Ensure sustainable sources of funding to cover various training needs in a complimentary manner in the future;
  • Assist the Libyan authorities in establishing a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and improving operational cooperation with Member States;
  • Support the provision to the Libyan Coast Guard of additional patrolling assets and ensure their maintenance.
  • Stepping up the fight against smugglers and traffickers
  • Ensure that the Seahorse Mediterranean Network is operational by spring 2017, thus allowing greater exchange of information and operational coordination between the Libyan Coast Guard and participating Member States;
  • Encourage the participation of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt in the Seahorse Mediterranean Network;
  • Target supplies of smugglers by pooling intelligence between Member States, EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Europol, Interpol, and partners in the region, in particular by using the Eurosur Fusion services.
  • Protecting migrants, increasing resettlement and promoting assisted voluntary returns
  • Engage with the Libyan authorities to ensure that the conditions in centres for migrants are improved, with a particular attention to vulnerable persons and minors. Step up cooperation with IOM and UNHCR in this respect;
  • Step up work and engagement with Libyan municipalities to promote alternative livelihoods and support the resilience of local communities hosting migrants;
  • Support capacity building in migration management for the Libyan authorities;
  • Support in cooperation with Libyan authorities, international organisations, such as UNHCR, in addressing the situation of the persons in need of international protection;
  • Support IOM in its work to improve the situation of migrants in Libya and to implement a project for assisted voluntary return from Libya, considering its further expansion beyond the initial target of 5,000 migrants.
  • Managing migrant flows through the southern Libyan border
  • Deploy the full range of EU missions and projects to support the Libyan authorities in border management and migrant protection in Southern Libya;
  • Promote border cooperation, dialogue and exchange of information between Libya and its southern neighbours, including using the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community to full potential;
  • Building on existing cooperation with Niger under the Migration Partnership Framework, take further action to address the northwards migration pressure, tackle smuggling and promote assisted voluntary returns.
  • Increased cooperation with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria
  • Deepen dialogue and operational cooperation on migration flows management with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria;
  • Enhance practical cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, including on returns.
  • Stepping up funding
  • Mobilise €200 million for the North Africa window of the EU Trust Fund for Africa for projects in 2017, with a priority focus on migration-related projects concerning Libya;
  • Match the EU contribution to the North Africa window of the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

Why is the EU focusing on Libya?

The Central Mediterranean route has become the dominant route for migrants and refugees to reach Europe. Over 180,000 people were detected on the Central Mediterranean route in 2016, the vast majority of them reaching the continent via Italy. Almost 90% of those on the route depart from Libya, whose unstable political and economic situation provides the opportunity for smugglers to expand their activities.

Smugglers and traffickers themselves contribute to the instability in the country by their actions and human rights abuses, increasing the vulnerability of migrants. Finding a lasting solution to Libya’s governance and security challenges continues to be a key priority for the European Union, its Member States and international partners, as it is a prerequisite for sustainably managing the current situation. Thus, it has to be taken into account that some of the proposed actions highlighted in the Communication can only be successful if the situation on the ground allows for it.

What will you do to support the Libyan coastguard and save lives at sea?

Since the start of this decade, over 13,000 irregular migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Central Mediterranean route to Europe. The EU and its Member States have made major efforts to reduce the risk of loss of lives. Search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean have been set up and have been gradually extended to new areas. In 2015 and 2016, the EU has saved over 400,000 lives.

The Libyan Coast Guard should play a central role in managing the situation. Therefore building its capacity is a priority, both in terms of capabilities and equipment needs.

To this end, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission are closely coordinating their respective actions with those of EU Member States and other actors, in order to ensure coherence in the provision of support. While the EU budget cannot finance Operation Sophia directly, it can fund the training of the Libyan Coast Guard.

Through the Seahorse programme, the EU is aiming to strengthen Libyan border surveillance and expand the training offered to the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy. The programme will be reinforced with an additional €1 million to further strengthen its training component.

This will be further complemented by a new programme of support to the Libyan Coast Guard, financed by a €2.2 million grant agreement with the Italian Ministry of Interior.

This support will include cooperation with the IOM for support to sea rescue, as well as with the UNHCR for capacity-building of the Libyan authorities and assistance to migrants and refugees present in or disembarked in Libya.

A new programme under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, worth €20 million, will focus on the reception of migrants upon disembarkation and improving the living standards in centres where migrants are received.

In the context of the European Maritime Security Strategy Action Plan, the Commission will also support the Mediterranean Coast Guard Functions Forum in 2017, with a grant of €80,000, that will help the Libyan Coast Guard to develop mutual knowledge, share experience and best practices, as well as to identify areas for further cooperation with Coast Guard Functions in Member States and in other third countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

How will you step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers?

A first priority is to make the Seahorse Mediterranean Network, which aims at strengthening and coordinating border surveillance systems, fully operational by spring 2017. Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, France, Spain and Portugal have all already connected their Eurosur national coordination centres for border surveillance to the Seahorse Mediterranean Network. Work is now underway to ensure that the Libyan Coast Guard has the equipment it needs to connect with Member States, so that all will be able to inform each other about incidents in near-real time, and coordinate their patrolling activities.

On the high seas, EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia’s capacity to disrupt the activities of human smugglers and traffickers is already being enhanced through training of the Libyan Coastguard and Navy in coordination with Commission programmes and Member States‘ efforts. Today’s Communication stresses the need to further enhance information sharing and gathering and ensure continued availability of assets.

Finally, existing socio-economic support for municipalities along the migratory route could be reinforced, providing alternative livelihoods for those involved in smuggling and trafficking.

These actions are complementary to the ongoing initiatives under the Migration Partnership Framework and the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling.

What do you intend to do to improve migration management in Libya?

To improve the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya, and address the challenges of irregular migration to and from Libya, more needs to be done in complementarity with EU Member States national initiatives and in close cooperation with the UNHCR and IOM.

Conditions in the centres where migrants are held are unacceptable and fall short of international human rights standards.

The Commission and High Representative/Vice-President will engage with the Libyan authorities and with the concerned international organisations to address these issues, and will step up targeted funding if appropriate.

In addition to programmes already in place, Commission services and EEAS propose to:

  • continue systematic engagement with the Libyan authorities, with a focus on border management, countering irregular migration and addressing the needs of migrants in Libya, particularly those in detention centres, ensuring that conditions meet international humanitarian and human rights standards. Human rights and the proper handling of migrants is an important element of the trainings provided by EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy, as well as EUBAM Libya;
  • build on current Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) engagement to foster security and stability in Libya – in particular through civilian CSDP actions under EUBAM Libya to provide advice to Libyan authorities on border management and organised crime;
  • explore with the UNHCR the feasibility of practical steps to implement the resettlement of those in need of international protection from Libya towards EU Member States and other international partners;
  • reinforce the pilot initiative launched aiming at community stabilisation in areas affected by internal displacement and transit of migrants, including the creation of job opportunities for persons in need of protection, also with a view to facilitate their acceptance by hosting communities;
  • enhance ongoing assisted voluntary returns from Libya towards countries of origin, if the situation on the ground allows for it.

How do the assisted voluntary returns from Libya work?

Many migrants may have incentives to return to their country of origin, if their plans to find a job in Libya or hopes to travel to Europe are not materialising. In those cases, assisted voluntary return can be an option.

As part of the EU’s comprehensive approach, efforts in cooperation with international partners will be stepped up, in particular with the IOM, with a view to addressing the humanitarian situation of migrants in Libya.

The core objective of such cooperation is to offer an alternative return opportunity for migrants, many of whom live in miserable conditions. In this regard, a €20 million action was adopted in December 2016 under the EU Trust Fund for Africa. The project focuses on support to migrants at disembarkation points and in centres, as well as scaling up humanitarian repatriation to countries of origin and reintegration.

What are you going to do to address the situation on Libya’s southern border?

Given that the majority of migrants in Libya are third-country nationals, with the largest share originating from sub-Saharan African countries, an effective approach also has to take into account actions south of Libya. The work taken forward with Niger under the Partnership Framework shows how effective cooperation can have an impact on the flows towards the Mediterranean. In Niger, the EU’s engagement includes a permanent presence of EUCAP SAHEL Niger in Agadez. Concrete steps in the region could include further outreach to the communities and migrants with information and awareness-raising, as well as the extension of assisted voluntary return and reintegration measures from locations beyond Agadez and Niamey. Efforts to strengthen Niger’s control of the Niger-Libya border, control the flow of migrants and potentially assist with voluntary returns, need to take account of the potential impacts on communities in Northern Niger that are economically sustained by migrant smuggling, to ensure adequate alternative livelihoods and access to viable and legal markets to replace migrant smuggling.

In the longer term, it could be also explored whether a civilian CSDP mission could support Libyan border management agencies, including in the South, building on efforts currently made through EUBAM Libya. This could be combined with actions by the European Border and Coast Guard to improve monitoring and information flow. The HRVP started a dialogue with Libya and its southern neighbours which will continue to be developed.

How are you stepping up cooperation with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria?

In taking joint actions with Libya, the risk that other routes could develop in neighbouring countries needs to be minimised by deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration within the region.

The Commission and European External Action Service propose to deepen dialogue and cooperation with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. Further assistance to these countries to develop their own functioning asylum systems and support to those in need of international protection would be needed. Cooperation with the UN and IOM in these countries should also be strengthened, including with their possible participation in regional programmes such as the Seahorse Mediterranean network.

A first step will be the deployment of European Migration Liaison Officers to the EU Delegations in Tunisia and Egypt.

In Tunisia, the integrated framework provided by the Mobility partnership concluded in 2014, has reinforced dialogue and brought better management of operational and financial support. The relations in this area will now be taken to a new level. A €23 million security sector reform project includes a component providing capacity building support in the area of border management.

As regards Egypt, the formal EU-Egypt dialogue has been revived under the revised European Neighbourhood Policy and the draft EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities, including a dedicated chapter on strengthening cooperation on migration and mobility.

The EU-Algeria draft partnership priorities include closer cooperation on migration and mobility-related issues, while discussions are ongoing with the Algerian authorities for a first project to be funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

For more information:

Communication: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route. Managing flows, saving lives

Annex to the Comunication

Press release: Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion

Factsheet: EU-Libya relations

Timeline European Agenda on Migration

Factsheet: Migration Partnership Framework

EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sofia

EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM)

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European Commission – Fact Sheet

Questions & Answers: A coordinated EU approach for temporary internal border controls

Brussels, 25 January 2017

What has the Commission recommended today?

The Commission has today recommended that the Council allow Member States to maintain for a further period of three months the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders, namely those in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway where controls are already in place pursuant to the Council Recommendation of 11 November 2016.

The Recommendation concerns the following internal borders:

  • Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land borders;
  • Germany at the German-Austrian land border;
  • Denmark in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border;
  • Sweden in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge;
  • Norway in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

The temporary border controls should remain targeted, based on constantly updated risk analysis and intelligence, and limited in scope, frequency, location and time to what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security. The Member States concerned should ensure that internal border controls are only carried out as a last resort. They should review weekly the necessity, frequency, location and time of controls, adjust the intensity of the controls to the level of the threat addressed, phasing them out wherever appropriate, and report promptly to the Commission every month.

Why is the Commission recommending the Council allows the prolongation of temporary controls at these internal borders?

As set out in the Commission’s „Back to Schengen“ Roadmap, the objective of the Commission is to return to a normally functioning Schengen area as soon as possible. However, the Commission considers that at this stage, the exceptional circumstances that led to the adoption of the Council Recommendation of 12 May and the subsequent prolongation of 11 November are still present.

Despite significant progress in the implementation of the Roadmap, the situation remains fragile in Greece, in the Member States most affected by the secondary movements of irregular migrants and asylum seekers coming from Greece and along the Western Balkans route.

In particular, despite the significant decrease in the number of arrivals of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in the European Union notably due to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, there is still a significant number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Greece (between 50,000 and 60,000, of whom 16,000 are on the islands).

Furthermore, despite the steady and important progress in the fields identified by the „Back to Schengen“ Roadmap, several actions still need time to be fully implemented and their results confirmed. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, established since 6 October, is being rapidly rolled out and cooperation between the Agency and neighbouring third countries is advancing. However, further efforts and more time are needed in order to confirm the results. The continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement is still needed for a sustained reduction of arrivals to the EU. Finally, the full application of the existing Dublin rules in Greece will only be restored progressively as of mid-March and further efforts are needed to ensure the full participation of Greece.

As those elements point towards the persistence of exceptional circumstances, the Commission considers it justified, on a precautionary basis and only after having examined alternative measures, that the Council allows Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to prolong the current internal border controls as an exceptional measure for a further proportionate and limited period under strict conditions. In particular, any such controls must be targeted and limited in scope, frequency, location and time to what is strictly necessary. Based on the factual indicators available at this stage, the prolongation should not exceed three months. The Commission will continue to work with these Member States to gradually phase out temporary internal border controls.

What will happen at the end of the three-month period if the Council allows for a further prolongation of controls?

Article 29 of the Schengen Borders Code foresees that the Council may prolong, on a proposal from the Commission, the initial period during which temporary internal border controls are authorised, no more than three times for a further period of up to six months and up to a maximum period of 2 years, if the exceptional circumstances persist.

Does the Recommendation set limits and conditions to the recommended prolongation of internal border controls in these five countries?

As set out in the Commission’s Recommendation, the Schengen States currently carrying out temporary internal border control pursuant to the Council Recommendation of 12 May 2016 should be permitted to continue doing so. However, in view of the progressive stabilisation of the situation, border checks should only be adopted as a last resort when other, less restrictive measures, such as the exercise of police powers under Article 23 of the Schengen Borders Code, cannot sufficiently address the threats identified. With a view to returning to a normal functioning of Schengen and gradually phasing out the current temporary internal border controls, the Commission encourages Member States to make use of this latter possibility.

The requirements under the Recommendation of 11 November 2016 concerning the weekly review by the Member States concerned of the necessity, frequency, location and time of controls, adjustment of the controls to the level of the threat addressed, and phasing them out wherever appropriate, remain in place for this Recommendation. Before opting for a continuation of border controls the Member States concerned should examine all alternative measures and inform of the outcome of this examination in their notification to other Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission on the maintenance of internal border controls.

Internal border controls should be limited in scope, frequency, location and time to what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security. Member States carrying out internal border controls should regularly consult with the Member States concerned and review on a weekly basis the necessity, frequency, location and time of controls, adjust the intensity of the controls to the level of the threat addressed, and phase them out wherever appropriate.

After each month of implementation of the Recommendation, the Member States concerned should report to the Commission on the outcome of the controls carried out and on the continued necessity of such controls. This report should at minimum include the total number of persons checked, the total number of refusals of entry following the checks, the total number of return decisions issued following the checks and the total number of asylum applications received at the internal borders where the checks take place.

The Commission will closely monitor the application of this Recommendation and the situation on the ground.

The Commission will continue working with the Schengen States concerned to gradually phase out temporary internal border controls with the objective of returning to a normal functioning of the Schengen area as soon as possible.

Are the temporary controls linked only to the situation in Greece? Does this mean that there cannot be controls at borders other than the ones mentioned in this Recommendation?

The permission to prolong internal border controls for a further period of three months is only linked to the exceptional circumstances resulting from the context of the unprecedented migratory and refugee crisis which started in 2015, and the deficiencies identified in the external border management by Greece as well as the secondary movements resulting from these deficiencies.

Controls in response to migration routes not linked to Greece’s control of its external border, for example from the Central Mediterranean, cannot take place on the basis of the current Recommendation.

However, all Member States, including the five Member States concerned by the present Recommendation, have the possibility for temporary reintroduction of internal border control in the event of another serious threat to public policy or internal security.

The Commission is fully aware that future migratory flows at any EU border section may in the future pose another serious threat to public policy or internal security in one or several Member States. For this reason, actions are taken at different border sections at sea and on land to take coordinated action, including through additional efforts on the Central Mediterranean route, through the Partnership Framework, and by taking additional action on the relevant sections of the external borders. The Commission also recognises that new security challenges have arisen in the past years, as demonstrated by the recent terrorist attack in Berlin. In this respect, whilst the current legal framework has been sufficient to address challenges faced until now, the Commission is reflecting on whether it is sufficient to address evolving security challenges.

Why was the Article 29 procedure triggered in the first place?

In exceptional situations, serious deficiencies in the management of the external border of the EU can put at risk the functioning of the internal area of free movement insofar as these circumstances constitute a serious threat to public policy and internal security. In these cases, the Council is empowered to recommend, on a proposal from the Commission, border controls at one or several internal borders.

In the context of the unprecedented migratory and refugee crisis which started in 2015, such deficiencies were identified in the external border management by Greece and the secondary movements resulting from these deficiencies. On 12 May 2016, the Council recommended to allow temporary border controls for six months in five Schengen countries – Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – mostly affected by the flows of irregular migrants coming from Greece.

Can Schengen Member States still make use of the general provisions of the Schengen Borders Code to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls?

Article 29 of the Schengen Borders Code states that the exceptional procedure referred to under this article is without prejudice to measures that may be adopted by Member States, including the five affected Member States, in the event of a serious threat to public policy or internal security under the general ruled for the temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders (Articles 25 to 28 of the Schengen Borders Code), not linked to the serious deficiencies in the management of the external border.

In case of a serious threat to public policy or internal security in a Member State, that Member State may reintroduce temporary border controls at all or parts of its internal borders for a maximum of two months in cases requiring immediate action (Article 28) and a maximum of six months in case of foreseeable events (Article 25). In such cases, the Commission will see to the necessity and proportionality of the controls carried out.

Which countries currently have internal border controls in place under the Recommendation?

Temporarily reintroduced border controls in the context of the Recommendation of the Council of 11 November 2016:

  • Germany (12 November 2016 – 12 February 2017) land border with Austria
  • Austria (12 November 2016 – 12 February 2017) land border with Slovenia and with Hungary
  • Denmark (12 November 2016 – 12 February 2017) Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and the Danish-German land border
  • Sweden (12 November 2016 – 11 February 2017) Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and the Öresund bridge
  • Norway (12 November 2016 – 12 February 2017) Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden

For more information

Proposal for a Council implementing decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk

Press release: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months

FACTSHEET: The Schengen Rules Explained

Back to Schengen – A Roadmap

Press release: Commission reports on progress in making the new European Border and Coast Guard fully operational

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