by Steve Peers

Yesterday, Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, argued that the EU’s response to the migrant deaths crisis ran the risk of admitting half a million terrorists on to EU soil. He based this claim on the threat of the ‘Islamic State’ (Daesh) terrorists to send such killers to the EU via means of smuggling routes, and demanded that David Cameron veto the EU plans.

Do these claims make sense? Not in the slightest. First of all, the EU policy, as I discussed last week, is essentially to reaffirm the status quo. The current limited maritime surveillance missions will be expanded, although it is not clear if they will amount to fully-fledged rescue missions. This probably means that more people will reach the EU, but this will only be for the reason that fewer of them will drown en route. Once in the EU, they will be able to make claims for asylum – but that is no different to the current law. The EU’s plan does not involve any changes to EU asylum legislation; it simply calls on Member States to apply those laws. The EU did commit to some form of direct resettlement of refugees from third countries – but EU leaders could not even agree on the tiny number of 5,000 refugees to be settled next year.

Farage would prefer a policy of returning people to the countries they left. In fact, asylum-seekers can already be returned to their countries of origin or transit, if it is clear when examining their application that those countries are safe. But in accordance with the UN (Geneva) Refugee Convention – which UKIP purports to support – they cannot be returned to an unsafe country. Libya, for instance, is clearly unsafe: there are widespread whippings, beatings, electric shocks and hangings of migrants. In any event, asylum-seekers who prove to be terrorists must be denied refugee status or other forms of protection status, as the CJEU has confirmed.

Farage demands that David Cameron veto the EU’s plans, but that simply isn’t possible, because the UK has an opt-out from EU asylum and immigration law. We can choose not to participate, and indeed the UK has already chosen not to participate in any of the second phase EU asylum measures, except for those which transfer asylum-seekers from the UK to other Member States. We can choose not to participate in any future measures too – although as noted already, the EU is not even planning any new asylum laws in response to the deaths. Since the UK has an opt-out, it does not have a veto. But in fact, no Member State has a veto on EU asylum policy. Most EU immigration and asylum law has in fact been subject to qualified majority voting since 2005. (Laws on legal migration were subject to unanimous voting until 2009; but the EU’s plan does not address legal migration issues).

As regards border control operations in particular, the UK doesn’t participate fully in the EU’s border control agency, Frontex. In fact, according to the EU Court of Justice, legally we can’t participate in Frontex, since we don’t participate in the full Schengen system of abolishing internal border controls. Instead we have an informal arrangement, for instance supplying some hardware to assist with the expanded surveillance operations. But even that sort of informal arrangement is under challenge in a case pending before the CJEU.

In some ways, Farage’s own policy runs its own risks. He has argued that Christians in particular should be admitted as refugees into the EU. As I have pointed out, this again violates the Geneva Convention that UKIP purport to support, since that Convention requires non-discriminatory application on grounds of religion, and it would also be unfeasible to distinguish between Christians and Muslims during rescue at sea. But if Christians are being resettled directly from areas afflicted by Daesh, the UKIP policy would provide the perfect opportunity for ISIS fighters to pretend to be Christian as a way to ensure entry into the EU.

As an assessment of terrorist methodology, Farage’s claims are also suspect. The bulk of Daesh atrocities have not been carried out in the EU, but in Syria and Iraq, as well as by affiliated groups in Libya and Nigeria. Most of the people who have been linked to Daesh in Europe have been EU citizens who travelled to parts of the Middle East to participate in atrocities. Any migrants who were rescued from boats or who were resettled directly from conflict areas would presumably be disarmed of any weapons they were carrying en route. Of course, they might obtain weapons once they reached the EU; but since Farage is an outspoken critic of gun control, he is part of the problem, not of the solution, to that issue. As for the figure of half a million Daesh fighters coming to the EU, that’s 20 or 30 times the CIA’s estimate of the total number of all Daesh fighters.

Finally, Farage argues that the EU has cynically used the migrant deaths crisis to develop a comprehensive immigration and asylum policy. If only it had: in fact, the EU’s response is largely marginal and ineffectual. Indeed, Farage is throwing some huge stones inside this glass house. It is Farage who is trying to ‘weaponise’ the tragic deaths of hundreds of people, taking this opportunity to make an inaccurate and incoherent rant in the midst of an election campaign.




When is the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU applicable to a Member State measure? In C-446/12 – 449/12 Willems the CJEU held that a Member State which stores and uses fingerprint data, originally collected in compliance with Regulation No 2252/2004, but which the Member State then uses for purposes other than those stipulated in the Regulation, is not acting within the scope of EU law, and therefore is not bound by the Charter. This case appears to indicate a retreat by the Court from the expansive interpretation of the scope of application of the Charter which it had previously laid down in C-617/10 Fransson.

Facts and judgment

Council Regulation No 2252/2004/EC requires Member States to collect and store biometric data, including fingerprints, in the storage medium of passports and other travel documents, and require that such data be used for verifying the authenticity of the document or the identity of the holder. Spain introduced measures requiring the collection and retention of the fingerprint data for use in connection with travel documents. However, those national measures also provide that such data can be kept in a central register, and used for other purposes (such as national security, prevention of crime and identification of disaster victims). The applicants made passport applications, but refused to provide the fingerprint data. They argued, inter alia, that the storage and further use of those data breached their fundamental rights under Article 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The national court referred two questions for preliminary ruling.

The first question concerned the applicability of the Regulation to national identity cards. The Court held that the Regulation did not apply to such cards. The second question is the one I want to focus on: Does Article 4(3) of the Regulation, read together with Articles 6 and 7 of Directive 95/46/EC  and Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter, require Member States to guarantee that the biometric data collected and stored pursuant to that Regulation will not be collected, processed and used for purposes other than the issue of passports or other travel documents?

The ECJ had already held (in C-291/12 Schwarz) that the collection of those data for the purposes stipulated in the regulation (to verify the authenticity of the passport or the identity of the holder) was compatible with the Charter. The question was whether further processing of those data by the Member State would similarly be compatible.

The Court noted that the Regulation did not provide a legal basis for such further processing – if a Member State were to retain those data for other purposes, it would need to do so in exercise of its own competence (para 47). On the other hand, the Regulation did not require a Member State not to use it for other purposes. From these two observations the Court concluded that the Regulation was not applicable. The Court then cited its famous passage in C-617/10 Franssonwhere it had held that the applicability of EU law entails the applicability of the Charter. As the Regulation was not applicable, the Charter was not applicable either.

The Court then turned to Directive 95/46/EC  (the Data Protection Directive). It merely observed that the referring court requested the interpretation of the Regulation “and only that Regulation”. As the Regulation was not applicable, there was no need to examine whether the Data Protection Directive may affect the national measures.


I will focus on the question of applicability of the Charter (See Steve Peers comment on the “appalling” reasoning of the Court in respect of the Data Protection Directive). This judgment appears to signal a retreat by the Court from the expansive understanding of the scope of application which was laid down inFransson. It is true that in that case the Court had held that when EU law is not applicable, the Charter is not applicable. But when applying that test to the facts, the Court observed that the national (Swedish) measure was connected (in part) to infringements of the VAT Directive, and therefore was designed to implement an obligation imposed on the Member States by EU law “to impose effective penalties for conduct prejudicial to the financial interests of the European Union”. So inFransson the Court held that national measures which were connected in part to a specific obligation imposed by EU law on the Member State fell within the scope of application of EU law, and therefore of the Charter.

In the present case, the national measures are designed (in part) to implement the obligation imposed on the Member States by the Regulation, to collect and retain fingerprint data. Applying the reasoning in Fransson it would seem to follow that such measures would fall within the scope of EU law – after all, the measures relate to the retention of fingerprints, and the reason the fingerprints need to be retained stems from a specific obligation imposed, by EU law, on Member States: the obligation to collect and store biometric data with a view to issuing passports and travel data, set out in Article 4(3) of the Regulation.

Of course, this case can be distinguished from Fransson. In Fransson the Member State’s measure could be seen as not only stemming from the specific obligation imposed by EU law, but also as furthering the EU purpose of preventing conduct prejudicial to its financial interests. In contrast, in the present case the Member State’s measure is in furtherance of a member state’s purposes, and not an EU purpose.

But such a distinction would seem to entail a very strict approach to what obligations are imposed by EU law. Because the obligation which the Regulation imposes is not just to collect and store date, but also (under Article 4(3) of the Regulation) to ensure that the data are only used to for the specified purposes set out in the Regulation. That obligation was subsequently modified by Recital 5 inRegulation 444/2009, which states that Regulation 2252/2004 is “without prejudice to any other use or storage of these data in accordance with national legislation of Member States.” But is such a Recital sufficient to place the measures concerning those data outside the scope of EU law, or does it merely confer a discretion on states to adopt such measures, provided that they are compatible with EU law? Unfortunately, the reasoning in this judgment does not provide much guidance.


The approach of the Court in Fransson did not meet universal approval, and the judgement of the German Federal Constitutional Court in the Counter-Terrorism Database case may be read as a warning shot across the CJEU’s bows to make sure that the Charter is not applied to Member States’ measures in a way that “question[s] the identity of the [national] constitutional order”.  And by emphasising the autonomy of EU fundamental rights in its recent Opinion 2/13 on the accession to the ECHR, the Court certainly raised the stakes involved in demanding Member State compliance with the Charter. So this case may indicate a desire to ensure that the EU fundamental rights standard is reserved for those Member State measures where it matters most that a EU standard is applied – those matters where the primacy, unity and effectiveness of EU law is at stake.

In effect, this case can be read as tacit acceptance of AG Cruz Villalón in hisOpinion in Fransson, who proposed that the oversight by the Court of the exercise of public authority by the Member States be limited to those cases where there was “a specific interest of the Union in ensuring that that exercise of public authority accords with the interpretation of the fundamental rights by the Union”. However, that Opinion was a well reasoned legal argument. This judgment leaves many questions unanswered, and makes it very difficult to predict when a national measure will fall within the scope of EU law.

Furthermore, this approach sits uneasily with the self-understanding of the EU as a Union based on the rule of law inasmuch as neither Member States nor its institutions can avoid review of the conformity of their acts with fundamental rights (C-402/05 P and C-415/05 P Kadi). Through this Regulation, the EU requires the Member States to collect and store sensitive personal data of all EU citizens who wish to travel; but where the Member States go on to use those data in ways that may breach the fundamental rights of those EU citizens, the Court washes its hands of the matter.



Terrorisme : La France n’est pas seule concernée mais la France doit aussi se sentir en cause ..


par Simone GABORIAU 
Présidente de chambre honoraire de la cour d’appel de Paris (Membre du Conseil d’administration de M.ED.E.L).

Apres les attentats des 7, 8, 9 janvier, les plus meurtriers qu’ait connus la France depuis plus de 50 ans (1), après la stupeur, l’émotion et l’union, le temps de la réflexion rationnelle s’impose. Il faut le faire en France et au sein de l’Europe des droits de l’homme mais aussi dans le contexte de l’environnement humanitaire mondial.
Les actes terroristes ne sont pas nouveaux dans l’histoire du monde
Contrairement a bien des idées reçues, le terrorisme n’est pas le fruit du malheur de notre temps mais appartient a une histoire ancienne.
« L’histoire mondial du terrorisme concerne la totalité du monde et ne fait pas de distinction entre continents, aires culturelles et religieuses (2) ».
Du terrorisme interne au terrorisme international, les origines en ont été multiples ; y ont été représentées : toutes les religions, divers courants de pensée, des mouvements irrédentistes, ou de résistance à l’oppression ou de conquête d’indépendance face au colonisateur… Certains groupements ont été héroïses d’autres diabolisés. Certains ont été vaincus par la force ou la répression, d’autres se sont finalement assis a des tables de négociations. Sans oublier de citer le « terrorisme d’Etat » dont l’origine est notamment à « la terreur » de la Révolution française, reprise par la Révolution russe et qui peut s’appliquer à bien des situations de terreur d’Etat qui ont sévi ou sévissent encore dans le monde.

Un terrorisme devenu global

Les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, ont révélé que l’on doit, de plus en plus, faire face à un terrorisme global, en ce qu’il emprunte les moyens de la globalisation technologique et financière pour relier des individus, ou groupes, terroristes, indépendamment de leur base territoriale.
Cette nouvelle dimension a facilité la montée en puissance du terrorisme se revendiquant du radicalisme islamique lequel, actuellement, serait responsable de la majorité du nombre de victimes (3).
Mais il faut se garder, d’interpréter cette situation comme une manifestation du « choc guerrier des civilisations » car ce serait tomber dans le piège tendu par ce terrorisme.

La reconnaissance d’une communauté mondiale de valeurs (4) ?

Ce caractère global a plus que jamais motive la volonté de coopération internationale. Apres l’échec de la SDN, l’ONU peine a l’établir de façon compatible avec la sauvegarde des droits fondamentaux comme l’illustre le système des « listes noires » finalement annulé par la Cour de justice des communautés européennes (5).
Cette communauté de valeurs parait avoir été mieux sauvegardée au niveau européen, a tout le moins, par le rôle des juridictions Cour Européenne des droits de l’homme et Cour de justice des communautés européennes.

La montée en puissance de la reconnaissance des victimes

Dans cette communauté de valeurs, la personne de la victime a pris une place grandissante. L’acte terroriste qui trouvait jusque dans les années 1970-80, bien des gens pour l’excuser ou le légitimer est devenu d’autant plus insupportable qu’il visait des civils définis des lors comme des victimes par excellence (6).
Le discours public en France, et sans doute dans bien des pays, est particulièrement sensible a la prise en compte des victimes. C’est, au reste, un des progrès récent de nos sociétés démocratiques.

Brève, et non exhaustive, analyse de la situation Française Continue reading “Terrorisme : La France n’est pas seule concernée mais la France doit aussi se sentir en cause ..”

The revision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering legal framework is fast approaching..

By Dalila DELORENZI (Free Group trainee)


Broadly speaking Money laundering means the conversion of the proceeds of criminal activity into apparently clean funds, usually via the financial system  by disguising the sources of the money, changing its form, or moving the funds to a place where they are less likely to attract attention. Terrorist financing is the provision or collection of funds, by any means, directly or indirectly, with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used in order to carry out terrorist offences. At EU level since 1991 at EU level legislation has been introduced to limit these activities and to protect the integrity and stability of the financial sector and, more in general, of the Internal Market. The EU rules are to a large extent based on Recommendations  adopted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is an intergovernmental body with 36 members, and with the participation of over 180 countries in the world.

The directive currently into force is the Third Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive which applies to the financial sector (credit institutions, financial institutions) as well as to professionals such as lawyers, notaries, accountants, real estate agents, casinos and company service providers. Its scope also encompasses all providers of goods, when payments are made in cash in excess of EUR 15.000. All these addressees are considered “obliged entities”. The Directive requires these obliged entities to identify and verify the identity of customers (so-called customer due diligence, hereinafter ‘CDD’) and beneficial owners, and to monitor the financial transactions of the customers. It then includes obligations to report suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing to the relevant Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), as well as other accompanying obligations. The Directive also introduces additional requirements and safeguards (such as the requirement to conduct enhanced customer due diligence) for situations of higher risk.

In force since 2005 the third Money Laundering Directive required a revision against the backdrop of the constantly changing nature of money laundering and terrorist financing threats, facilitated by a constant evolution of technology and of the means at the disposal of criminals. In particular, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris have increased the necessity of decisive actions against terrorist financing and further efforts need to be made in adapting the current framework to a different reality. Therefore in accordance with this purpose, at the international level measures have been taken by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF): a fundamental review of the international standards has been undertaken and a new set of Recommendations have been adopted in February 2012.

In parallel to the international process, the European Commission with a view to complying with the international standards has undertaken its own review of the European Anti-Money Laundering framework. This revision consisted in an external study (the so called Deloitte study) on the application of the Third AMLD (Directive 2005/60/EC) and in extensive contacts and consultations with private stakeholders and civil society organisations, as well as with representatives of EU Member State regulatory and supervisory authorities and Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).

The results of the Commission’s review were set out in a Report , addressed to EU Parliament and Council, where it was analysed how the different elements of the existing framework have been applied and how it may need to be changed, highlighting the necessity to introduce clarifications or refinements in a number of areas.

More specifically, the main problems in the current EU anti-money laundering/combating terrorist financing legislative framework are: (i) inconsistency with the recently revised international standards; (ii) different interpretation and application of rules across EU Member States; and (iii) inadequacies and loopholes with respect to the new money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

2. The EU Commission’s proposals Continue reading “The revision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering legal framework is fast approaching..”

(EPPO) European Public Prosecutor: also the European Parliament wants a say…

by Giuseppe RIZZO (Free Group Trainee)

How a simple “yes or no” could be complemented by a political dialogue

After almost two years since the European Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the Council of the European Union is still negotiating the rules concerning the institution and the action of the EPPO (see preparatory documents here).

According to art. 86  of the TFEU, this new body could be established with unanimity within the Council of the EU or with an enhanced cooperation by at least nine Member States. It is worth noting that unlike  the ordinary legislative procedure in the EU, art. 86 of the TFEU establishes a special legislative procedure where the Council has to take the final decision even if  the European Parliament can approve  or reject the Council’s text.. This institutional model  which can be sensible when international agreements are at stake (as the EP like the national parliaments can only ratify or reject them) , when applied at legislative level is not consistent with the general rule according to which EU legislation should result from an agreement between the Council which represent the national governments and the European Parliament as direct representative of EU Citizens.

To overcome this political and institutional imbalance the EP in the cases of legislation to be adopted by simple consent ,has established a practice through which it try to influence the position of the Council by adopting interim reports with recommendations. The latter even if not legally binding could have a political weight and should be taken in account by the Council if it wants avoid the risk of rejection of its text and the need to re-start from scratch a new procedure  (as it already happened after the rejection of some international  agreements).

The EP Interim reports    

On the EPPO proposal the European Parliament already adopted on 12th March 2014  in the previous legislature an interim resolution  which was focused on issues such as the jurisdiction of the future Institution,  if and how decisions taken by the prosecution could be appealable, the relations between the EPPO and other already existing Agencies and bodies such as Eurojust and OLAF.  The 2014 EP LIBE resolution highlighted, the relation between the Member States notably  in case of adoption of the EPPO regulation following the  “enhanced cooperation” procedure  (by so trying to frame the relation between participating and non-participating Member States).

One year after the LIBE Committee has drawn up another Interim Report that will be discussed next week by  the plenary in Strasbourg.

In this new report the LIBE Committee takes stock of the current state of negotiations in the Council, and focus on the most important characteristics of the future EPPO. Notwithstanding the reservations of several national parliaments LIBE confirms the necessity and urgency of building up the new body also to overcome the Member States persistent unwillingness to follow the  recommendations for prosecution issued by OLAF (followed only in 31% of the cases from 2006 to 2013).

LIBE also agree that for the time being that the competence of the future EPPO should be limited to offences relating to fraud against the financial interests of the Union, even if the spreading of the terrorist threat in the EU could had suggested a wider EPPO competence taking stock of the limits of Europol and Eurojust in this sensitive domain. But even if limited to the protection of financial interests the new competence should be further defined as nowadays there is not yet a uniform definition of what constitutes illegal activities “affecting the EU’s financial interests”. In principle this legal gap will be soon overcome by another legislative text currently negotiated between the EP and the Council [1], the so-called “PIF” Directive (from the French acronym: protection des intérêts financiers) which will also define the scope of the material competence of the future EPPO which will be the subject of an incoming post of this blog.

Structure and competence of the EPPO Continue reading “(EPPO) European Public Prosecutor: also the European Parliament wants a say…”



by Steve Peers

Yesterday the EU leaders, in the European Council, adopted a policy for addressing the recent crisis of large-scale migrant death tolls crossing the Mediterranean. It builds upon the recent 10-point plan adopted by ministers (discussed here), but builds upon it in some respects. There were also some interesting last-minute changes to the earlier draft of the text (all of which are shown in the annex below), indicating leaders’ real priorities.

Detailed comments

At first sight, the leaders’ statement shows more compassion than the 10-point plan, referring to the huge loss of life as a ‘tragedy’ and stating an immediate priority to ‘prevent more people from dying at sea’. To this end, there is a specific commitment to triple the funds for ‘search and rescue’ as regards existing EU operations. However, this is only ‘within the mandate of Frontex’ – and the head of the EU border agency has stated that this agency does not really have a search and rescue role.

It should be noted that since these operations are coordinated by Frontex, detailed rules of EU law will apply (discussed here) will apply. These rules do allow, in some cases, for returns of migrants directly from their rescue to non-EU countries – as long as those countries are safe. It is unlikely that in the current situation, Libya would qualify as safe.

The destruction of traffickers’ vessels ‘before they are used by traffickers’ seems to suggest some Minority Report style precognisance of the future use of the boats, considering that traffickers do not paint logos on the side of their boats like ferries or shipping companies. This is also qualified by a reference to compliance with international law. It may be questioned whether this action will legally be a foreign policy operation (as the leaders assume), given the approach to EU law taken in a recent CJEU opinion concerning the EU’s anti-pirates operation (discussed here).

As compared to the 10-point plan, there is a reference to Interception of communications, and a very brief reference to the root causes of the problem (conflict in countries of origin, as well as Libya). The EU leaders took out a reference to stopping migrants making it to the Mediterranean shores, but it’s obvious that this is the main intention of stepping up cooperation with sub-Saharan countries.

There’s an added stress on readmission treaties, including with countries of transit; this refers implicitly to EU readmission treaties with North African states (not Libya) currently under negotiation. There are also two added references to the right to asylum and EU asylum law, confirming that the EU leaders do not intend to simply return migrants without considering their claims. Some press reports had erroneously suggested an intention to return many thousands of migrants without considering claims, but if migrants make it to EU waters or land, it would be illegal to return them without examining their claims under EU law. Migrants can be returned to countries of origin or transit if their asylum claims are unfounded, as long as those countries are safe. Again, returning migrants to Libya would, under current circumstances, breach EU and human rights law as long as that country does not appear safe.

As compared to the 10-point plan, it appears that the intention is not to fingerprint all migrants, but only those applying for asylum; this simply re-iterates long-standing EU law. More generally, the plan says little about safe passage, removing the original (and puny) target number of 5,000 resettlement places, and not referring to other forms of safe passage instead. (While it would be difficult to issue humanitarian visas in Libya, it would be possible to offer this option – discussed further here – in other States). Equally, there is little practical solidarity with frontline states; other Member States offer cash and help with processing and return, but weakened any significant commitment to relocate people from those frontline States.

There is an immediate commitment to issue a ‘roadmap’ next week, pre-empting the Commission’s agenda-setting role (its strategy paper is due in May). However, the role of the European Parliament may still prove significant, since it must approve any funding decisions or changes in legislation.


Overall, the new commitment to search and rescue is welcome, although it is qualified in light of Frontex’s limited powers.  The desire to address root causes is good but seems half-hearted, and this is easier said than done. A more ambitious strategy regarding the processing of asylum claims in non-EU transit states is probably necessary in the medium term, but neither the EU leaders nor asylum NGOs want to swallow this bitter pill for the time being. The destruction of traffickers’ boats is subject to legal and practical constraints, and will be almost literally a drop in the ocean. The summit result is frankly pathetic as regards safe passage of migrants, ensuring that they avoid the risk of the crossing altogether, and it is marginal as regards assistance to frontline Member States.

On the whole, it seems that the leaders want to do as little as possible to change the current approach to dealing with the crisis. Similar to their method of dealing with the euro crisis, this looks like a short-term patch-up that offers less than first appears, which will probably have to be revisited soon.



by Steve Peers

On Monday, EU foreign and interior ministers adopted a ten-point plan in response to the recent huge death toll of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. There will be a summit on Thursday to examine the issue further, and then an EU Commission strategy proposed on May 13th. But for now, I want to examine the initial plan.

Overall, this is a very disappointing document. It’s not only vague on crucial details but more importantly focusses less on the situation of the migrants (addressing the root causes which cause them to move, and protection from drowning and persecution) and more on border control and repression. One point in the plan constitutes a rather crass example of ‘policy laundering’ – attempting to use a crisis to shove through an essentially unrelated policy objective.

Let’s look at the ten points of the EU plan in turn, then examine the ‘Australian solution’ and the ‘Christians only’ approach which some have suggested. For alternative solutions to the problem, see the proposals of the UN Special Rapporteur on Migrants, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, Patrick Kingsley (in the Guardian), Nando Sigona, and myself.

Reinforce the Joint Operations in the Mediterranean, namely Triton and Poseidon, by increasing the financial resources and the number of assets. We will also extend their operational area, allowing us to intervene further, within the mandate of Frontex;

This is the only one of the ten measures related directly to search and rescue, although it’s not clear if this is actually intended to be a search and rescue mission. The mandate of ‘Frontex’ (the EU’s border control agency) concerns border control, not search and rescue as such. Indeed there is no mention of search and rescue here, or in the rest of the plan. Nor is there any express mention in the plan of the recent loss of life. There are no details of the extent of the increase in financial resources and assets, or the extent to which the operational area will increase. Continue reading “THE EU RESPONSE TO MIGRANT DEATHS: PROTECTION AND PREVENTION – OR POLICY LAUNDERING?”

L’Union européenne et la crise de l’immigration en Méditerranée : le bal des hypocrites


par Henri Labayle, CDRE

Rien ne change. Les minutes de silence au sein des institutions européennes ne se comptent plus face à la litanie des morts et des disparus lancés en Méditerranée.

Comme il y a près de vingt ans à Douvres devant les cadavres de 54 clandestins chinois, les Etats membres et les institutions de l’Union promettent que cette fois-ci est la dernière, qu’enfin des mesures efficaces seront prises pour faire face à l’inacceptable : des centaines de morts en quelques semaines, des milliers à venir en quelques mois si l’indifférence persiste. Faute de reconnaître son échec, l’Europe est incapable de changer d’approche en affrontant autrement la réalité. Au bal des hypocrites, le carnet de chacun est donc bien rempli.

1. Le double langage des Etats membres

L’environnement de l’Union est devenu extrêmement dangereux, troublé par une multitude de conflits. Graves autant que nouveaux, ils engendrent des mouvements de personne quasiment impossibles à réguler, pour partie imputables d’ailleurs à l’imprudence des interventions militaires occidentales, en Irak ou en Libye.

Les populations persécutées par Daesch comme par Bachar El Assad appellent la protection autant que celles fuyant la guerre en Erythrée, lorsqu’elles se jettent dans l’exode. Quoi que les politiciens prétendent aux opinions publiques nationales, cette protection leur est due et l’Union européenne n’en est pas la cause. Nous l’avions décidée bien avant, inscrite dès 1946 dans notre constitution et dans la Convention de Genève comme nos voisins depuis 1951. Notre indifférence contemporaine à la misère humaine ne peut occulter un choix qui est partie intégrante de nos valeurs. Les dévoiements tout aussi indiscutables du droit d’asile ne peuvent le masquer. N’est pas australien qui veut.

Quelle est l’attitude individuelle comme collective des Etats européens devant ce constat ? Une fuite devant leurs responsabilités et le refus de tirer les conséquences de leur impuissance matérielle et budgétaire à garantir isolément leurs frontières respectives. Ceux qui proclament le contraire en réclamant leur rétablissement ont-ils oublié l’échouage d’un cargo turc transportant des immigrants kurdes sur une plage corse et imaginent-ils ce qu’il adviendrait demain d’une vague semblable à celle de la Sicile ?

Ce refus s’est traduit d’abord, en Méditerranée. Sous couvert de soulager l’Italie qui avait lancé à grands frais l’opération de sauvetage « Mare nostrum » après une première catastrophe, les Etats membres lui ont substitué l’opération conjointe « Triton ». Elle a divisé les coûts par trois et couvert une zone moindre, aux seules fins de surveillance de la frontière commune. Les 4 avions et 21 bateaux alloués par une vingtaine d’Etats, dont certains ne sont pas membres de l’Union, illustre bien le peu d’enthousiasme étatique à défendre la frontière commune avec Frontex, rapportés aux moyens mis en oeuvre par la seule Italie …

L’opération n’illustre d’ailleurs pas les clichés habituels. Si la Roumanie (tenue à l’écart de Schengen) ou la Slovénie et la Lettonie répondent présentes, tel n’est pas le cas de la Hongrie, pourtant consommatrice de crédits de l’Union dans ce registre, ou de l’Irlande et du Royaume Uni. Certes, le refus de ces derniers de participer à l’espace Schengen est connu mais on sait tout autant qu’une partie importante de ces demandeurs de protection se retrouvera en fin de compte à Calais, dans l’espoir d’un passage … En attendant, c’est un navire islandais, le Tyr, qui est au rendez vous du canal de Sicile.

Passé les mots de l’émotion, le cynisme l’emporte donc largement. L’opposition à Mare Nostrum était ouvertement menée au moyen d’un argument glaçant de réalisme : sécuriser le passage en sauvant les naufragés serait un appel d’air au commerce des passeurs … L’augmentation actuelle du nombre de naufragés alors que cette opération est précisément terminée témoigne de l’erreur d’appréciation commise, son incompatibilité évidente avec la morale et le droit de la mer ne suscitant aucun doute.

Les attitudes individuelles ne sont guère plus glorieuses. Les envolées françaises sur le droit d’asile, tradition de notre pays, et les déclarations martiales du chef de l’Etat appelant à régler des « questions devenues insupportables » ne dissimulent pas le double langage.

Celui par exemple des résistances de la diplomatie française lorsqu’il fallut, en 2014, réglementer le cadre de la surveillance des frontières maritimes extérieures conformément aux grands principes. Pas davantage que n’est infirmé le bien fondé des remarques de la Cour des comptes et du Sénat sur le projet en discussion relatif au droit d’asile qui prétend faire mieux en n’octroyant aucun moyen nouveau …

D’autant que le couplet habituel sur une France « terre d’asile » appelle modestie : quatrième Etat européen à enregistrer des demandes d’asile (62.000), nous sommes devancés par l’Allemagne (plus de 200.000), la Suède et l’Italie, en 2014. Et pour ce qui est de leur acceptation, nous ne dépassons pas 15.000 dossiers … trois fois moins que l‘Allemagne, autant que les Pays Bas qui sont bien moins sollicités, 20% qui se situent largement au dessous de la moyenne européenne.

C’est bien là que le bât blesse : comment l’Union européenne peut-elle sérieusement prétendre à une solidarité quelconque quand l’essentiel de la pression pèse sur un dixième de ses membres, 3 Etats seulement ? Que font les autres ?

2. L’inconsistance de l’Union européenne       

Continue reading “L’Union européenne et la crise de l’immigration en Méditerranée : le bal des hypocrites”

J.P.Jacqué : Le droit pour la Commission de retirer une proposition législative. A’ propos de l’arrêt du 14 avril 2015 (C‑409/13)


par Jean Paul Jacqué

L’existence d’un droit pour la Commission de retirer une de ses propositions a, de tout temps, constitué une pomme de discorde entre le Conseil et la Commission. Pour la Commission, le droit de retrait devait être considéré comme un corollaire du droit d’initiative que lui reconnaît le traité. Il s’appuie sur l’article TFUE qui indique que la Commission peut à tout moment modifier sa proposition avant que le Conseil n’ait statué. Le retrait serait l’une des variantes du pouvoir de modification. Dans la mesure où le Conseil peut amender une proposition de la Commission sans l’accord de celle-ci dès lors qu’il statue à l’unanimité, le retrait viendrait tempérer ce pouvoir du Conseil. Pour le Conseil, il ne saurait être question de reconnaître à la Commission ce qui s’apparenterait à un veto législatif. Dès lors que le Conseil réunissait l’unanimité pour amender une proposition de la Commission, cette dernière ne devait pas avoir le pouvoir de faire obstacle à la volonté du Conseil. L’argumentation de la Commission méconnait la philosophie initiale du système.  Si la Commission s’est vue reconnaître le droit de modifier sa proposition, c’est pour lui permettre de rejoindre, si elle de désirait, la position d’une majorité d’Etats membres afin de permettre l’adoption d’une proposition qui n’aurait pas recueilli l’unanimité. Cette situation n’avait rien avec un droit de retrait qui n’avait pas été envisagé par les pères fondateurs[2]

Jusqu’à présent, cette divergence de vues entre institutions n’avait pas provoqué de difficultés insurmontables. Le retrait unilatéral par la Commission a été pratiqué cinq fois, essentiellement lors de la Commission Delors. Les autres cas de retrait étaient plus consensuels. Il s’agissait essentiellement du retrait de propositions devenues caduques ou affectées par un changement de circonstances et il était généralement précédé par des consultations avec le Parlement et le Conseil. La Commission avait également pris l’habitude de procèder à des retraits « administratifs » lors de son entrée en fonction Ceux-ci concernaient des propositions anciennes qui n’avaient pas uscité l’intérêt du législateur. Elle pouvait s’appuyer sur un prétendu principe de discontinuité législative que connaissent de nombreux parlements nationaux et qui est soutenu par le Parlement européen lequel est favorable à la caducité des propositions non adoptées pendant la précédente législature avec des exceptions pour celles adoptées en première lecture ou celles dont il veut poursuivre l’examen. En raison de l’opposition du Conseil, ces retraits étaient généralement précédés des négociations interinstitutionnelles.

La Commission Juncker semble s’être affranchie de ces contraintes en procédant à des retraits systématiques concernant des propositions dont le Parlement souhaitait poursuivre l’examen ce qui a donné lieu à controverses[3]. Continue reading “J.P.Jacqué : Le droit pour la Commission de retirer une proposition législative. A’ propos de l’arrêt du 14 avril 2015 (C‑409/13)”

La crise de l’immigration dans l’Union : vivre et laisser mourir ?


 par Henri Labayle, CDRE

Une fois encore, la presse se fait justement l’écho de la crise migratoire frappant l’Union européenne, superlatifs à l’appui. Les mêmes mots, il y a quelques semaines, relataient déjà les mêmes inquiétudes et proféraient les mêmes contre-vérités. Avant que l’actualité ne les chasse comme des nuages que l’on sait programmés pour revenir, à la prochaine marée.

La publication du rapport trimestriel de Frontex en est la cause, rendant ainsi un hommage indirect aux efforts de transparence d’une Agence de l’Union souvent injustement décriée. Elle s’ajoute auxtravaux du Bureau européen d’asile et à ceux d’Eurostat. Cette publicité coïncidant avec la reprise des débats internes à l’Union mérite un éclairage particulier.

Les mois qui passent ne se ressemblent pas nécessairement sur le front migratoire et l’examen des faits est instructif, quitte à ce que leur mise en perspective avec les efforts de l’Union ne révèle les carences de celle-ci.

1. Des faits et des chiffres

La réalité est têtue : la pression migratoire sur l’Union européenne est sans précédent. Cette pression s’inscrit dans un contexte international particulièrement préoccupant comme en témoignent lescris d’alarme du Haut Commissariat aux Réfugiés et des ONG. Examiner l’importance des flux de demandeurs de protection relevant de la compétence du HCR permet, sinon de relativiser la gravité de la situation de l’Union européenne, du moins de mettre cette pression en perspective.

Ainsi, actuellement, pratiquement 4 millions de réfugiés syriens se trouvent aujourd’hui en Turquie, au Liban, en Jordanie, en Iraq et en Égypte, sans perspective aucune de retour dans leur pays d’origine dans un proche avenir. Leur présence fait peser sur ces Etats d’accueil une contrainte politique, économique et sociale hors du commun et, en tous cas, hors de propos avec celle subie par l’Union. Continue reading “La crise de l’immigration dans l’Union : vivre et laisser mourir ?”