|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.12, No.14, 20.4.06|
EU governments are to agree next week on ways of expelling more rejected asylum-seekers from the territory of the Union.
Draft conclusions prepared for a meeting of the EU's justice and home affairs ministers in Luxembourg on 27-28 April aim to improve co-operation between governments, encouraging the use of shared flights to return immigrants to the country from which they came.
Member states are asked to agree that "a further increase in the use of joint flights" will demonstrate "more effective use of resources, thus increasing the rate of returns from the member states".
The conclusions state that "joint return operations should be organised in full respect of the human rights and of the dignity of the person subject to removal".
Under the plan, one EU government would take charge of the logistics for a particular chartered flight but allow others to share in it if they wish to expel rejected asylum-seekers to the same country.
In July 2005, France, Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany agreed to undertake joint deportation flights as part of their efforts to improve police and judicial co-operation. Following that decision, Spain, Italy and France organised a joint flight to expel 125 Romanians in September last year. The UK and France have also organised joint deportations to Afghanistan.
Belgium has organised expulsion flights jointly with the Netherlands and Luxembourg and has also shared in flights led by Germany.
At next week's meeting EU ministers are being asked to give a greater role to the EU's Warsaw-based external borders agency Frontex, which began operations last year.
It would have a role in ensuring that co-operation takes place, paying special attention to "criteria of economic efficiency".
The blueprint suggests that common training standards for officers responsible for expulsions should be defined. These would be based on existing national standards applying in EU countries, it says.
A separate plan prepared for the meeting suggests that an EU database on related issues should be established. This would store information to help the Union label certain countries from which asylum-seekers originate as "safe". Those countries' nationals could then be returned home swiftly.
Franco Frattini, the European commissioner for freedom, security and justice, said earlier this year that he would propose guidelines for designating 'safe countries of origin' to next week's meeting. European Commission officials say, however, that the guidelines are not yet ready.
EU governments have failed to agree on which countries should appear on a 'safe' list. An initial list discussed by EU diplomats in February mainly included countries from Africa and Latin America, prompting queries about why the US had been omitted.
In the case of countries where female genital mutilation is known to occur, it has been suggested that the fast-track procedure should be limited to male asylum-seekers.
Amnesty International spokesman Dick Oosting said that the lists of 'safe' countries should not be used as a tool for assessing asylum claims. The group believes that restricting access to asylum breaches international refugee law.
In a report published today (20 April), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says that the EU's system for deciding which member state should handle asylum-seekers carries a risk that people will be returned to countries where their lives or liberty will be endangered.
The 'Dublin II' regulation, which came into force in 2003, is designed to determine which national authority should handle an application if an asylum-seeker has spent time in more than one EU country.
The UNHCR criticises Ireland, Greece and Luxembourg for not processing applications from asylum-seekers who abscond and then re-appear on their territories.
Failure to re-open files in such cases, it says, "is tantamount to denial of the responsibility" conferred on their authorities by the regulation.
Preview of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 27-28 April 2006. Items to be discussed were joint actions of Member States to expel 'illegal' immigrants and guidelines for so called 'safe countries of origin' in the consideration of asylum applications.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs|
|Countries / Regions||Europe|