The EU’s Planned War on Smugglers


by Steve Peers (Twitter: @StevePeers)

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council is meeting today (May 18) to discuss the possibility of a military operation in the Mediterranean to take actions against smuggling of migrants. Officially, at least, the purpose of the operation (as defined by EU leaders last month) is to destroy smugglers’ boats. The EU’s High Representative has stated that there will be ‘no boots on the ground’; and as she arrived at the Council meeting today, she referred to authorising an ‘EU operation at sea’.

However, it is clear from the documents discussed in the EU’s Political and Security Committee last week that (unless plans have changed radically in the meantime) the  High Representative is being “economical with the truth”. The EU action clearly contemplates action by ground forces. Moreover, it anticipates the possible loss of life  not only of smugglers but also  of Member States’ forces and refugees. In effect, the EU is planning to declare war on migrant smugglers – without thinking through the consequences.


The document defines the purpose of the EU operation: ‘to disrupt the business model of the smugglers, achieved by undertaking systematic efforts to identify, seize/capture and destroy vessels and assets before they are used by smugglers.

There would be four phases: ‘(1) a deployment and assessment phase, (2) an operational/seizure (of smuggled vessels) phase; (3) an operational/disruption phase, (4) a mission withdrawal and completion phase. The EU states that authorisation by the UN is not required by the first phase. While ‘ideally’ there should be consent of ‘the government(s) concerned’, the EU document clearly contemplates going ahead without it.

Phase 1 – Deployment Continue reading “The EU’s Planned War on Smugglers”

The EU’s new (internal) security agenda


by Chris Jones, May 2015

For anyone interested in an overview of the substantial law and order bureaucracy that the European Union and its Member States have constructed over the last four decades, and the direction in which it is heading, the European Commission’s recently-published ‘European Agenda for Security’ is worth a read. This article provides an overview of the key points.

The Agenda [1] opens by stating:
“The European Union aims to ensure that people live in an area of freedom, security and justice, without internal frontiers. Europeans need to feel confident that, wherever they move within Europe, their freedom and their security are well protected, in full compliance with the Union’s values, including the rule of law and fundamental rights.”
It follows on from the EU’s 2010 Internal Security Strategy and the ‘action plan’ that sought to implement it.
The Agenda was formally requested by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in December 2014, [2] through a set of conclusions that call for many of the same proposals put forward by the Commission.
It sets out a five-year “shared agenda between the Union and the Member States” that is supposed to lead to “an EU area of internal security where individuals are protected in full compliance with fundamental rights.”

On the basis of the Commission’s communication and ongoing political and legal developments, it is doubtful – to say the least – whether the proposed “full compliance with fundamental rights” will be achieved.
Instead, the Agenda looks likely to legitimise more repressive laws and policies at EU and national level.
What’s the Agenda? The Agenda will improve:

  • “information exchange”, including of personal data;
  • “increased operational cooperation” between policing, security, border guard and customs agencies, prosecutors, companies, etc.; and
  • “mutual trust [between different national authorities], drawing on the full range of EU policies and tools.”

The three main priorities are “terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime”, although the Commission is “remaining vigilant to other emerging threats [to security] that might also require a coordinated EU response.” The Commission’s broad concerns are that:
“In recent years new and complex threats [to security] have emerged highlighting the need for further synergies and closer cooperation at all levels [of state and industry]. Many of today’s security concerns originate from instability in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood and changing forms of radicalisation, violence and terrorism. Threats are becoming more varied and more international, as well as increasingly cross-border and cross-sectorial in nature.
There are undoubtedly a number of serious ongoing crises within the EU’s “immediate neighbourhood”. Nevertheless, this rather vague statement also to some extent encourages fear of the unknown. In any case, it provides significant leeway for developing new laws, policies and activities.

The key principles The Agenda has five: Continue reading “The EU’s new (internal) security agenda”

Some questions to the candidate High Representative for external relations (Federica Mogherini)

By Steve PEERS, Henri LABAYLE and Emilio DE CAPITANI

The would-be High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Commission Vice President for external relations (Mogherini) will  questioned in the next two days by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), to determine whether the EP should vote to confirm her in office. MEPs have already asked some written questions and the would-be Commissioners have replied. However, the oral hearings which will shortly take place are an opportunity for MEPs to ascertain the Commissioners’ plans, and to secure important political commitments.

The following are suggested questions on institutional issues, although of course MEPs should also ask questions on the substance of EU foreign policy.


1 External Internal Security Policy

In your written answer you claim the need of a consistent and global approach to external and internal security. However, legally these two dimensions have been artificially separated in the Treaties by a disconnection clause (art.40 of TEU) [1] according to which the external security will remain intergovernmental. This means that consensus between the 28 Member States will remain the main rule, there are no legislative powers and the Court of Justice has no full judicial oversight. Bearing in mind these flaws of the EU external security policy (also from the point of view of the democracy principle and of the rule of law) would not be better to achieve some of your goals by building them on the external dimension of “internal” policies (such as protection of borders, migration, judicial and police cooperation)? If so qualified majority will be the rule and external agreements will be approved by the EP (as already happened with some EU-US agreements) and EU acts will be under the control of the Court of justice…

2.Solidarity clause in case of terrorist attack or natural or man made disaster (art. 222 TFEU)

On a joint proposal of your predecessor and of the Commission on 24 June 2014 the Council adopted thearrangements for the implementation by the Union of the solidarity clause (art 222 TFEU)  to be activated  if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The text has been adopted without associating the EP and moreover it does not foresee any structured information of the European Parliament on the way in which threats are defined and monitored, not even in the case that such an event occurs. However even if the Treaty does not impose a requirement to provide this information nothing would had prevented the Council from  foreseeing it on its own initiative also because it would be bizarre that the members of the EP discover a terrorist attack from the press rather than from institutional channels. Will you propose an amendment to that Decision by recognising an adequate space for the EP?

3.Global Approach to Migration and mobility partnership as a binding act

As you rightly say in your written answer, EU development policy and international agreements could be the answer to address the root causes of displacement. However the Global Approach of Migration and the mobility partnership are only diplomatic instruments and are meaningless if not framed as full international agreements. Should they be transformed into legal binding acts (both for third countries and the EU and its Member States) and be accompanied by formal EU agreements with the relevant UN Agencies (UNHCR, IOM) tasking (and financing) them for the interventions in third countries? Continue reading “Some questions to the candidate High Representative for external relations (Federica Mogherini)”

NEW!! : subscribe to the first summer school on the EAFSJ…



Roma, 8-11 July
Sala conferenze Fondazione Basso – via della Dogana Vecchia, 5 – Roma

The European Area of Freedom Security and Justice (EAFSJ): scope, objectives, actors and dynamics.

Night view of Europe

Aim: to take stock of the current state of EAFSJ and of its foreseeable evolution within the next multiannual program 2015-2019 (to be adopted under Italian Presidency at the beginning of the next legislature).
Lenght: 4 one day modules
Subscriptions: on line on the Fondazione Basso internet site :
Participation fees:

Euro 480,00 (ORDINARY FEE).
(Bank Account of Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso – Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Ag. Senato Palazzo Madama: IBAN IT18I0100503373000000002777 ).
Subscriptions should be submitted before June 15th.The Summer School will take place only if a minimum number of subscribers is reached !For further information : tel. 0039.06.6879953 –
Languages: lessons will be mainly in Italian (some lessons will be in English and French), teaching material will be in Italian and/or English, French.
English/Italian translation will be available.
The programme is on the web-site of Fondazione Basso ( -Tel. 06.6879953 – email:

July 8th
A Constitutional and Institutional perspective
09h00 am – 06h30 pm

Opening speeches:
Valerio Onida: Freedom, Security and Justice related policies from a constitutional perspective and in relation with international and supranational dimensions
Stefano Manservisi: After the Stockholm Programme : how to preserve the specificity of the European Area of freedom security and Justice related policies by integrating them in the general EU governance and legal framework?


Freedom Security and Justice as the core of the common constitutional european heritage
Protecting fundamental rights: the impact of the accession of the EU to the ECHR. A common European Constitutional Heritage arising from the Council of Europe and European Union European Courts. What can be expected from the Strasbourg Human Rights Court in areas related to the FSJ?.

Speaker: Giuseppe Cataldi

Freedom Security and Justice as the core of the common constitutional european heritage
Promoting fundamental rights: the European Charter and its impact on EU policies. Even if the Charter does not extend the EU competencies it is now a constitutional parameter to be taken in account not only by the European judges but also by the EU legislature, even for policies designed with a more limited scope.

Speaker:Ezio Perillo


Evolution and transformation of the principle of Primacy of EU law. Dialogue and mutual influence of European and national Constitutional Courts.
Fifty years after the landmark case of Van Gend en Loos and four years after the Lissabon-Urteil (Bundesverfassungsgericht judgment of 30.6.2009), the tensions between EU “limits” and national “counter-limits” could arise again notably in the EAFSJ area.

Speaker: Oreste Pollicino

The EAFSJ a cross road of European and national founding values (art. 2), as well as for fundamental and European citizenship rights. How manage the indivisibility of rights and a Member States differentiated integration ?
(Opt-in Opt-out Countries). How far can the EU impact on Member States internal legislation (Towards a “reverse Solange” mechanism)? How the EU and Council of Europe can influence national fundamental rights related policies

Speaker: Nicoletta Parisi

The EAFSJ as supranational constitutional area of democracy. From National State to the European Union: what kind of relation between national and european legal orders ?
Sixty years of EU integration have changed the concept of democracy and sovereignty. There is a metamorphosis in National State’ s traditional role and its constitutional elements such as territory, citizenship and sovereign power. The Kantian vision of a peaceful cosmopolitan project mirrors the category of EU citizenship arising in the EAFSJ. Today Habermas developed the concept of “Constitutional patriottism”, underlying a “constitutionalisation” of the European supranational area. What are the pro and cons of this EU perspective ? The post-Lisbon Treaty stressed that the EAFSJ is becoming the embryo of a European public sphere as well as of a first example of supranational democracy.

Speaker: Francesca Ferraro


July 9th
Institutional dynamics and EU practices
09h30 am – 06h30 pm

The EAFSJ before Lisbon. The intergovernmental cooperation. From “TREVI” via “Schengen” to Amsterdam. The first phase.
How formerly excluded EAFSJ related policies have been integrated into the EU framework. TREVI cooperation, the Schengen agreement (1985) and its 1990 Implementing Convention as well as the Dublin Convention on Asylum.
The emerging notion of supranational space in the Single European Act (1986). The mutual recognition principle in the Internal Market and in EAFSJ-related policies. The Schengen Acquis in the EU legal framework from Amsterdam to Lisbon. Opt-in and Opt-out Countries: the impact of differentiated integration. Schengen relevance and ECJ jurisprudence on the preservation of the Schengen system consistency. From cooperation to integration.

Speaker: Dino Rinoldi


The EAFSJ after Lisbon (1). How the EAFSJ specificity has been preserved by progressively integrating it in the ordinary EU (communitarized) legal institutional framework. The impact on the EU institutions and on the MS.
Dynamics and the role of the Institutions in promoting, negotiating and implementing the EAFSJ-related policies. European Council, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, Commission and Court of Justice interplaying in the EAFSJ. The preparatory work conducted behind the scene by the Commission Directorates General, the Council working bodies – COREPER, CATS, COSI – and the EP parliamentary committees

Speaker: Antonio Caiola

The EAFSJ after Lisbon (2) How democratic principles are fulfilled in the EAFSJ. The impact of the EP on legislative procedures.
The interparliamentary dialogue and the way how the EP and national parliaments play their role when verifying the subsidiarity and proportionality principles in the EAFSJ policies. The emerging role at EU level of “political families” represented at national European and international level (European political parties, EP political groups, national parties).

Speaker: Emilio De Capitani


The EAFSJ after Lisbon (3). How EU policies are framed and implemented at national level. How cooperation, mutual recognition and harmonisation are implemented
How EAFSJ policies are implemented at national level. Problems and opportunities arising notably when implementing the mutual recognition of other EU countries’ measures. How intertwined are the EU and national administration in the EAFSJ related policies. Is there complementarity between EU and National strategies? The EU financial levy as a facilitator of mutual EU-national coordination. The emerging role of EU Authorities and Agencies as a support and meeting space also for national administrations (Ombudsman, FRA, EDPS, FRONTEX, EASO, EMCDDA, EUROPOL, OLAF, CEPOL, EUROJUST, …).

Speaker: Lorenzo Salazar


July 10th
An European space of freedom and rights
09h30 am- 06h30 pm

The EAFSJ after Lisbon (4) Placing the individuale at the heart of EU activities
How EU legislation implements the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The ECJ jurisprudence and the phenomenon of reverse discrimination. EU citizenship-related jurisprudence. Judicial action at national and European level founded on the EU Charter. Infringement of EU founding values and fundamental rights as possible exceptions to the mutual recognition obligations? Fundamental Rights Agency.

Speaker: Valentina Bazzocchi

The EU evolving framework of Transparency, access to documents, principle of good administration, and of classified information
After Lisbon a more transparent independent and efficient EU administration can be founded on Arts 15 and 298 of the TFEU as well as Arts 41 and 42 of the European Charter. However the close intertwining of the EU and the Member States has created a hybrid system of European Classified Information (EUCI), which is particularly relevant in the EAFSJ policies. How do European and national institutions implement the EU principles? How is the principle of good administration secured? What role should the EU Ombudsman play?

Speaker: Deirdre Curtin

Protection of Personal Data. The EU reform.
After the Lisbon Treaty and the merger of the so-called first and third pillars, protection of personal data can be framed in a globally consistent manner. Informational self determination, protection against possible abuses by the private sector as well as by public sector (law enforcement authorities) can now be framed at European level by taking stock of the lessons learned at national and international level (Council of Europe, OECD). How to preserve the role of national authorities and of the new coordinating body.

Speaker: Vanna Palumbo

Freedom of movement border integrated management
Freedom of movement of European citizens as well as of third country nationals in the EU remains a central and controversial issue. The integrated external border management is progressively framed at legislative level (borders, visas..) and implemented at operational level also thanks to the emerging role of Frontex and of the new European networks (SIS II – VIS). New opportunities as well as risks emerge in the definition of the EU-Member State management of internal and external borders

Speaker: Luisa Marin


European Migratory policies
Objectives, legal framework and operational setting of the EU-Member State policies. Five years after the European Pact on Asylum and Migration (2008), what lessons can be drawn for the next (2015-2019) multiannual programme? What improvements can be foreseen for the EU migration governance at central and national level? How are the Member States implementing the EU legislation? What are the main external aspects of the EU migration policy?

Speaker: Henry Labayle

The European common asylum system (and of EASO and EURODAC)
After the first generation of EU “minimum” rules the EU has now established the Common European Asylum System foreseen by Art. 18 of the Charter and Art 78 of the TFEU by taking account of the jurisprudence of the Luxembourg and Strasbourg Courts. At national level high standards should be granted to avoid the problems found for instance with Greece when implementing the Dublin system. The principle of solidarity still seems to be underexploited. Attention should be paid to the new role of EASO (Reg. (EU) No 439/2010) as well as to the implementation of the EURODAC system.

Speaker: Patricia Van de Peer


July 11
An European space of security and justice
09h30 am -06h30 pm

Judicial cooperation in civil matters; complement of the freedom of movement?
Judicial cooperation in civil matters has been one of the most dynamic domains after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Enhanced cooperation took place in matrimonial matters and intellectual property. Special attention will be reserved for the recently revised Brussels I Regulation (which abolished the “exequatur” procedure) as well as for the new Regulations on succession and wills and on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters.

Speaker: Filomena Albano

Internal security strategy: crisis prevention and management.
Special attention will be paid to the implementation of the 2010 European Internal Security Strategy and its impact on the cooperation between the EU institutions and agencies as framed by the “Policy Cycle” for the 2013-2017 period. There will also be a presentation of the implementation of PRUM cooperation and of the “availability principle” as well as the way how security- and intelligence-related information is exchanged notably within the framework of the so-called “Swedish Initiative”. The role played by COSI, Europol and of the internal security fund will be presented and debated together with the impact of the up-coming “Lisbonisation” of EU measures adopted before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty

Speaker: Sandro Menichelli


Judicial Cooperation in criminal matters
How judicial cooperation in criminal matters has been developed between countries of different legal traditions (civil and common law). Problems and opportunities arising at each level of cross-border cooperation (open coordination, mutual recognition, legislative harmonisation). The European jurisprudence (Strasbourg and Luxembourg Courts) as well as the impact of the EU Charter. The implementation of the first post-Lisbon measures and impact of the Lisbonisation of former third pillar measures in this domain. Preserving the independence of the judiciary: towards European-wide judiciary quality evaluation systems.

Speaker: Luca De Matteis

The European Public Prosecutor: a pattern also for Member States?
The OLAF Reform and the Eurojust “Lisbonisation” are intermediate phases towards the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s office (EPPO) (Art. 86 TFEU). The latter will be empowered to bring action also before national courts. The European legislation will determine the general rules applicable to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the conditions governing the performance of its functions, the rules of procedure applicable to its activities, as well as those governing the admissibility of evidence, and the rules applicable to the judicial review of procedural measures taken by it in the performance of its functions. What will be the impact, the risks and opportunities arising from the creation of this new European Institution?

Speaker: Claudia Gualtieri

How to empower the EU citizens when EAFSJ are shaped and implemented ?
Round Table with the Intervention of Paul Nemitz, Antonie Cahen, Robert Bray Tony Bunyan

Final Debate


The Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, constituted an important step both at the legal level and at the political level in the evolution of the European Union. The aim of the EU now is not only “… to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”, having presided over, since the end of the Second World War, the longest ever period of peace between European States, but also to achieve “… an area of freedom, security and justice with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States.”

After the Treaty of Lisbon, the policies already provided for in the Maastricht Treaty within the framework of the so-called “third pillar” and originally focused mainly on intergovernmental cooperation and cooperation between administrations, are now to evolve into European “common policies” directly towards the interests of the individual, who is placed “at the heart of European integration.”

It is a Copernican revolution in so far as the Union is called not only to offer “… its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime” (Art. 3 TEU and Title V TFEU) but also to promote (and not only protect) fundamental rights and prevent all forms of discrimination (Art. 10 TFEU) and strengthen EU citizenship (Arts 18-25 TFEU) and with it the democratic principles on which it is based (Title II TEU).

The fact that the competences related to the ASFJ are now “shared” with the Member States (Art. 4 TEU) and are to be focused on the rights of the person brings about a daily interaction between the national and the European level, bringing into play national and European values, rights and objectives.

The process of reciprocal hybridization between the nascent European model and traditional national models is anything but politically painless, as the experience of almost thirty years of Schengen cooperation shows.

The aim of this Summer School is to assess the progress and difficulties encountered by the European institutions and the Member States in implementing the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the objectives set by the European Council in the “Stockholm Programme” of 10 December 2009.

Based on this evaluation, we intend to shed light on the possible priority bearing in mind that:
– it will be necessary to adjust the secondary legislation of the European Union in the light of the values and principles which are now enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (“Lisbonisation”);
– we shall be in the final phase of the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights;
– at the beginning of the next legislature, we will be entering into a new phase in the European judicial area with the negotiations on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor and the transition to the ordinary legislative procedure with regard to measures of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty (the transitional arrangements end on 1 December 2014);
– Member States which have hitherto enjoyed special treatment (Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom in particular) should have clarified their position with respect to the new phase of the ASFJ and the Schengen cooperation.

In the course of the next legislature it will also be necessary to promote greater consistency between European and national strategies related to the European area of freedom, security and justice. Just as in the economic sphere, the divergence of national public policies has put at risk the credibility of the common currency, the diversity of standards for the protection of the rights in Member States is straining mutual trust, the application of the principle of mutual recognition and the very credibility of the nascent “European model”. The strengthening of the operational solidarity between Member States’ administrations – which is being developed for example within the framework of Schengen cooperation – must be accompanied by legislative, operational and financial measures that implement solidarity between European citizens and third-country nationals on the territory of the Union.

In this perspective, Italy may play an important role as the new multi-annual programme for 2015-2019 is to be adopted by the second half of 2014 under the Italian Presidency.


Valerio Onida, Former President of the Italian Constitutional Court
Giuseppe Cataldi, Pro-rettore Università L’Orientale (Napoli)
Oreste Pollicino, Public comparative law Professor  (Università Bocconi – Milano)
Nicoletta Parisi, EU Law Professor  (Università Catania)
Francesca Ferraro, Visiting Professor (Università L’Orientale – Napoli)
Dino Rinoldi, International Law Professor  (Università Cattolica – Piacenza)
Valentina Bazzocchi, PHD EU Law (Alma Mater Università Bologna)
Deirdre Curtin, Professor of European Law (University of Amsterdam – NL),
Luisa Marin, Assistant Professor of European Law (University of Twente – NL)
Henri Labayle, Professeur de Droit international et européen (Université de Pau et des
pays de l’Adour – France)

Representatives and officials of European and national administrations:
Ezio Perillo (European Civil Service Tribunal)
Stefano Manservisi DG of the Commission DG Home
Paul Nemitz Director at the Commission DG Justice
Antoine Cahen, Patricia Van Den Peer, Claudia Gualtieri (European Parliament)
Filomena Albano, Luca De Matteis, Lorenzo Salazar (Italian Justice Ministery)
Sandro Menichelli (UE Italian Permanent Representation )
Vanna Palumbo (Garante Privacy IT)

Representatives of Civil Society:
Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch,Emilio De Capitani, FREE Group Secretary and Visiting Professor (Università L’Orientale – Napoli)


Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme released by Statewatch

European Commission: Stockholm Programme: Statewatch Analysis: Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme: A bit more freedom and justice and a lot more security (pdf) by Tony Bunyan: “The “harnessing of the digital tsunami” as advocated by the EU Future Group and the surveillance society, spelt out in Statewatch’s “The Shape of Things to Come” is embedded in the Commission’s Action Plan as it is in the Stockholm Programme….There is no mention of the European Security Research Programme (ESRP). Much of the technological development is being funded under the 1.4 billion euro security research programme. See: Statewatch/TNI report: Neoconopticon: EU security-industrial complex.

Statewatch Briefing: European Commission: Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme (pdf) Comments by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex – Full-text: Communication from the Commission: Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme (COM 171/2010, pdf)

Towards a European regime of sea border rescue operations?

How is it possible to avoid conflict of competences between Member States concerning the surveillance of maritime borders in the south of the Mediterranean, as well as possible conflict concerning the responsibility to rescue vessels in danger or to reject illegal immigrants at the border?

These questions have been raised several times in the past by both the press and assiduous public opinion. Starting from the case of Cap Anamur, debates spread at the European Union level, where the control of the external borders of the Schengen area is now regulated by the Schengen Borders Code (which entered into force on 13 October 2006, CE Regulation  N. 562/2006 of the EP and the Council).

In fact the Schengen Code does not include a comprehensive regulation on sea borders control although it foresees, respectively in articles 12 and 13, surveillance modalities and rejection by costal guards. (*)

Events related to marine assistance and rescue are not regulated and therefore Member States refer to international conventions (and related protocols) such as the Montego Bay United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 – UCLOS- which requires the master of a ship to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger or distress under article 10 of the 1989 Convention on salvage, or, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 (SOLAS), – and more importantly  the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue of1979 –SAR-.

The main problems arises at the particle level. Thought the regulation may be consistent, the implementation varies widely between Member States. As the European Commission pointed out in its Study on the international law instruments in relation to illegal immigration by sea in 2007, “There is indeed a duty to respect fundamental rights when implementing the Schengen Code, but it is not stated explicitly in relation to surveillance operations. As regards the principle of non-refoulement, there are differences in the Member States’ interpretations of this principle of international law, with some Member States, for example, contesting its applicability in international waters.”

“Another difference between Member States relates to how they identify a situation requiring assistance: for some Member States the vessel must be on the point of sinking; for others it is sufficient for the vessel to be unseaworthy; some Member States require the people on board to request assistance, while others do not. The proposal is based on the SAR system and stipulates that as soon as there is any question about the safety of a vessel or a person the SAR authorities must be contacted and given all the information they need to determine whether or not this is an SAR situation According to the Sar Convention each search and rescue area have been delimited for each of  the country concerned search and rescue regions for which they are responsible and these regions do not necessarily correspond to the existing maritime borders.”

The SAR Convention also imposes a precise obligation to rescue and assist persons and ships in distress at sea regardless of nationality, status or circumstances in which the persons are found. The obligations relating to search and rescue include the transport to a safe place.

According to the Commission “Deciding where the people rescued should be taken is a difficult question and is seen as one of the weaknesses of the SAR system. The 2004 amendments require all states to cooperate in resolving SAR situations; the state responsible for the SAR region must, with their cooperation, decide where those rescued will be taken. One Member State did not accept these amendments. A particular point of contention was where those rescued should be disembarked if the state responsible for the SAR region failed to fulfil its obligations in this respect. Some Member States are reluctant to take part in operations because they fear that they will end up having to take those rescued to their own country.”

Such difficulties often become emergencies for the persons involved in the rescue operations. Therefore, last November the Commission suggested to integrate the Schengen Code with the main international norms applicable in the field of marine search and rescue and the disembarking of individuals in safe harbours in order to guarantee fair and equal treatment at the European level and clear signing rules especially when surveillance operations take place under the coordination of the Frontex Agency.

Initially, the proposal did not obtain the support of national experts; however it may go through after the abstention of Italy and Malta.

If the Council adopts it, it will then be up to the European Parliament to intervene. In this case the legislative assembly will have time up to the 7 April to raise its objections concerning the procedure followed by the European Commission to integrate these provisions within the Schengen Code.

The European Commission defined these provisions as purely implementing measures (which seems a rather brave interpretation given the nature of their content), allowing therefore for their quicker adoption than if they were considered as measures having a fundamental impact in the Code. Within a few weeks it will be possible to know what will be the outcome of this, nonetheless, good initiative of the Commission.

Article 12

Border surveillance

1. The main purpose of border surveillance shall be to prevent unauthorised border crossings, to counter cross-border criminality and to take measures against persons who have crossed the border illegally.

2. The border guards shall use stationary or mobile units to carry out border surveillance. That surveillance shall be carried out in such a way as to prevent and discourage persons from circumventing the checks at border crossing points.

3. Surveillance between border crossing points shall be carried out by border guards whose numbers and methods shall be adapted to existing or foreseen risks and threats. It shall involve frequent and sudden changes to surveillance periods, so that unauthorised border crossings are always at risk of being detected.

4. Surveillance shall be carried out by stationary or mobile units which perform their duties by patrolling or stationing themselves at places known or perceived to be sensitive, the aim of such surveillance being to apprehend individuals crossing the border illegally. Surveillance may also be carried out by technical means, including electronic means.

5. Additional rules governing surveillance may be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 33(2). (Paragraph modified by the (CE) Regulation N. 296/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 March  2008)

Article 13

Refusal of entry

1. A third-country national who does not fulfil all the entry conditions laid down in Article 5(1) and does not belong to the categories of persons referred to in Article 5(4) shall be refused entry to the territories of the Member States. This shall be without prejudice to the application of special provisions concerning the right of asylum and to international protection or the issue of long-stay visas.

2. Entry may only be refused by a substantiated decision stating the precise reasons for the refusal. The decision shall be taken by an authority empowered by national law. It shall take effect immediately.

The substantiated decision stating the precise reasons for the refusal shall be given by means of a standard form, as set out in Annex V, Part B, filled in by the authority empowered by national law to refuse entry. The completed standard form shall be handed to the third-country national concerned, who shall acknowledge receipt of the decision to refuse entry by means of that form.

3. Persons refused entry shall have the right to appeal. Appeals shall be conducted in accordance with national law. A written indication of contact points able to provide information on representatives competent to act on behalf of the third-country national in accordance with national law shall also be given to the third-country national.

Lodging such an appeal shall not have suspensive effect on a decision to refuse entry.

Without prejudice to any compensation granted in accordance with national law, the third-country national concerned shall, where the appeal concludes that the decision to refuse entry was ill-founded, be entitled to correction of the cancelled entry stamp, and any other cancellations or additions which have been made, by the Member State which refused entry.

4. The border guards shall ensure that a third-country national refused entry does not enter the territory of the Member State concerned.

5. Member States shall collect statistics on the number of persons refused entry, the grounds for refusal, the nationality of the persons refused and the type of border (land, air or sea) at which they were refused entry. Member States shall transmit those statistics once a year to the Commission. The Commission shall publish every two years a compilation of the statistics provided by the Member States.

6. Detailed rules governing refusal of entry are given in Part A of Annex V.

Will Haiti tragedy boost the development of the European Union’s instruments in the field of civil protection?

In an article published in Le Soir on 16 January Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minster and current President of the Liberal Group of the European Parliament criticizes the weak role of the European Union and the standing leading role played by the Member States which demonstrate the absence of a real European approach.

Nevertheless, Verhofstdat observes that a coordinated action would make the difference and would multiply aid’s impact, especially in the event of crisis. Furthermore, such a coordination would be the only compatible answer with the new institutional and legal framework introduced with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

Indeed, the Treaty finally clarifies areas kept deliberately blurred for a very long time.

In the Lisbon Treaty the notion of solidarity between Member States and with third countries appears for the first time. Namely, article 3 of the TEU and, more importantly, Article 21 of the TUE on the basis of which:

1. The Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.

The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organisations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph. It shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.

2. The Union shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to:

(a) safeguard its values, fundamental interests, security, independence and integrity;

(b) consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law;

(c) preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and with the aims of the Charter of Paris, including those relating to external borders;

(d) foster the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of developing countries, with the primary aim of eradicating poverty;

(e) encourage the integration of all countries into the world economy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade;

(f) help develop international measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources, in order to ensure sustainable development;

(g) assist populations, countries and regions confronting natural or man-made disasters (…)

Although several types of solidarity exist, going from humanitarian aid to civil protection, before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon these interventions had an unclear legal basis. On the one hand, despite the fact that humanitarian aid refers to any country in the world, it was limited to cooperation with developing countries (ex art 179 TEC now 209 TFEU). On the other hand, civil protection interventions were foreseen only within the European Union territory, raising several concerns in relation to which kind of interventions the EU could have carried on to tackle emergencies, such as that of  Tsunami in 2004.

This uncertainty has now been overcome. Indeed, article 196 of the TFEU foresees the possibility for the European Union to

“(…)promote swift, effective operational cooperation within the Union between national civil-protection services (…)”.

In addition, the new Treaty validates the possibility to deploy civil protection mechanisms also in case of natural as well as human disasters, such as terrorist attacks. As a result, the use of police forces, highly developed technologies and military forces not only becomes desirable but also compulsory.

Verofstadt correctly reminds that some Member States blocked in the past the possibility to create a flying squad unite (EU-FAST) precisely to avoid the use of military technology both for logistic and operational activities (as in the aftermath of the Tsunami and Haiti’s earthquake  where hospital ships and aircraft carriers have been used).

However, with the Treaty of Lisbon  civil and military support becomes part of the civil protection as foreseen by the Stockholm Programme (*) as well as an essential element for the implementation of the solidarity clause foreseen in article 222 of the TFEU (which  alligns the cooperation between the Member States’ and the Institutions with the clause foreseen in article 5 of the Nato Treaty).

On the basis of what has been just said, it should not come as a surprise if  in 2008 with the signing of the Treaty and before its entry into force, the EU Institutions and the Member States adopted a long joint statement defining their  roles in case of intervention in third countries and foreseeing the use of military forces.

To sum up, it is now possible and necessary to update the current European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism and the  Monitoring Information Center  on the basis of the new Treaty by giving the possibility to deploy military means for civil purposes and re-launch the debate on the currently blocked proposal to create a sort of coordinating mechanism to tackle emergency situations for critical infrastructures (energy networks, transports, healthcare…).

This is a crucial challenge for the High Representative and the Institutions which can now decide by qualified majority and in codecision with the European Parliament.

Although it seems that Member States are opened to such an option (at least on the basis of a recent report dated November 2009 on EU capacity to prevent and respond to disasters), it should be reminded that several Member States do not support developments in this field. Indeed,  no debate has been carried on in relation to the creation of a real European consular and diplomatic protection for European citizens in third countries which has already examined in this blog.

Hence, although hopes should be kept low  it is now evident that a swift decision in this domain has become a necessity.


(*)4.6   Comprehensive and effective EU Disaster Management: reinforcing the EU’s capacities to prevent, prepare for and respond to all kinds of disasters

Natural and man-made disasters such as forest fires, earthquakes, floods and storms, as well as terrorist attacks, increasingly affect the safety and security of citizens and call for the further development of EU action in disaster management.

EU disaster management should be based on an integrated approach, covering the whole disaster cycle encompassing prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for actions both inside and outside the Union.

EU disaster management is built on two main principles: the responsibility of Member States for providing their citizens with the necessary protection in view of the existing risks and threats, and solidarity amongst the Member States to assist each other both before, during and after disasters, if catastrophes overwhelm national capacities or affect more than one Member State. The European Council considers that future EU action should be guided by the objectives of reducing vulnerability to disasters by developing a strategic approach to disaster prevention and by further improving preparedness and response while recognising national responsibility. Guidelines for hazard and risk- mapping methods, assessments and analyses should be developed as well as an overview of the natural and man-made risks that the EU may face in the future. Continued efforts are necessary to strengthen the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and to improve the civil protection instruments, including the availability, interoperability and use of and support for the coordination of assistance also outside the EU territory on occasions of serious emergencies involving EU citizens abroad. The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) should be reinforced in order to improve the coordination of Member States’ assistance, provide mapping and analytical support to the Member States for the further identification and registration of national and multinational civil protection modules and develop training and exercises in order to contribute to an efficient EU disaster response.


Reducing vulnerability to attacks is one of the major objectives pursued with EU action concerning the protection of EU Critical Infrastructure. The Directive on Critical Infrastructure, when implemented, should be analysed and reviewed in due course in order to consider the possible inclusion of additional policy sectors.

The CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) risk, and in particular the threat of terrorist groups using CBRN materials, has led to action at national and EU levels. The overall goal of the policy on CBRN security is to present a prioritised, relevant and effective European strategy to enhance the protection of EU citizens from incidents involving CBRN materials. In order to achieve this goal, the implementation of the EU CBRN Action Plan based on an all-hazards approach, including actions to prevent, detect, prepare and respond to larger incidents with high risk CBRN materials, is vital.

Increasingly research will be of importance to support all areas of disaster management. Possibilities for research within the seventh research Framework programme and within the following framework programmes need to be analysed and appropriate proposals should be made to support that goal.

Close cooperation with international organisations, in particular the United Nations, which has an overall co-ordinating role in international humanitarian response should continue to be a priority for interventions in third countries, both on the ground and in terms of preparedness (training, joint exercises). In accordance with the 2007 European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid a strong EU coordination and role will enhance the overall international humanitarian response, including concerted efforts to improve the humanitarian system, and would also reinforce the EU ambition of working closely with other humanitarian actors. The safety and security of the EU requires continuous dialogue and cooperation with third countries, and in particular neighbouring countries and countries with a Member State perspective. The Union’s increasing initiatives for strengthening regional cooperation, e.g. for the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea area and the Black Sea, as well as the Eastern partnership, are designed to contribute to this.