Joint statement ahead of the European Council 28-29 June

NRC|Published 27. Jun 2016
The Norwegian Refugee Council signed a joint statement together with over 100 humanitarian organisations, rejecting the European Commission's proposal on migration. Read the official statement here.

At the upcoming European Council, European Union (EU) leaders will discuss the European Commission’s Communication on a new Partnership Framework with third countries.

The Communication proposes an approach which aims to leverage existing EU and Member States'external cooperation instruments and tools in order to stem migration to Europe. The undersigned organisations express their grave concern about the direction the EU is taking by making deterrence and return the main objective of the Union's relationship with third countries. More broadly, this new Partnership Framework risks cementing a shift towards a foreign policy that serves one single objective, to curb migration, at the expense of European credibility and leverage in defence of fundamental values and human rights.

The proposed approach is inspired by the EU-Turkey deal which although touted as a successful example of cooperation, has actually left thousands people stranded in Greece in inhumane and degrading conditions. This has particularly affected children, with the result that hundreds of unaccompanied children have been held in closed detention facilities on the islands or forced to
sleep in police cells on the Greek mainland. The wider repercussions of this should not be underestimated.

It is hard to see how Europe can ask partner countries to keep their doors open, to host large-scale refugee populations and prevent further movements while at the same time Member States refuse to shoulder their fair share of responsibility for protecting people who flee their homes. The right to asylum is being significantly undermined, and it will become more and more challenging for civilians in conflict zones to seek international protection.

The Commission's proposal ignores all the evidence on the ineffectiveness of deterrence strategies aimed at stopping migration. This approach will not only fail to “break the business-model” of smugglers but increase human suffering as people are forced into taking more dangerous routes.

Moreover, despite the stated commitment to respect the principle of non-refoulement, there are no safeguards envisaged to ensure that human rights, rule of law standards and protection mechanisms are in place. As a result, people risk being deported to countries where their rights are not safeguarded. Responsibility and liability for human rights violations do not end at Europe’s

We are disappointed to see that once again the emphasis on deterrence leaves no clear commitments to open up safe and regular channels to Europe for those in need of international protection and for other migrants, e.g. through resettlement, humanitarian admission schemes, family reunification, educational visas, labour mobility and visa liberalisation. Resettlement, labour
migration and visa liberalisation are only mentioned as possible leverage with partner countries in a quid pro quo approach.

Another major concern is the financing of the proposed Partnership Framework which would represent a wholesale re-orientation of Europe’s development programming towards stopping migration. This is an unacceptable contradiction to the commitment to use development cooperation with the aim to eradicate poverty, as enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty.

Aid is for the benefit of people in need, and should not be used as a leverage for migration control. EU funding should be transparent and adhere to clearly established principles, such as the Busan principles on effectiveness and the Paris principles of ownership by and alignment to partner countries’ strategies. In addition, striking ‘migration management’ agreements with countries where grave human rights violations are committed will be counter-productive in the longer term – undermining human rights around the globe and perpetuating the cycle of abuse and repression that causes people to flee.

Migration has many drivers; people may be on the move in search of new livelihood opportunities, an education or to reunite with family, while conflict and violence, human rights violations, climate change, poverty and unemployment can all trigger migration and forced displacement. Any
cooperation to manage migration should take into consideration this complex and multi-faceted reality, be evidence and needs-based, and ensure that the benefits of migration are maximised and the risks are mitigated.

If the EU wants to call for more global solidarity, it needs to set the right example. The EU, a project built on the rubble of a devastating war, is about to embark on a dark chapter of its history. We urge EU leaders to choose a rights-based system to manage migration, based on a viable long-term strategic vision, rather than pursuing an unattainable and inhumane deterrence objective and thereby abandoning its core founding principles.

As human rights, humanitarian, medical, migration and development agencies, and key implementing partners of development programmes in third countries, we call on European leaders to:

  1. Reject the current Commission Communication and develop a sustainable long-term and evidence-based strategy for migration management, in consultation with civil society and experts.
  2. Facilitate safe mobility by opening and strengthening safe and regular channels to Europe both for those in need of international protection and other migrants including through resettlement, humanitarian admission and humanitarian visas, family reunification, worker mobility across skill levels and student visas. Member States must commit to clear benchmarks and appropriate timelines for implementing a migration framework that meets the needs of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, their families, as well as the needs and obligations of Member States.
  3. Exclude any conditionality based on migration control indicators in the allocation of development aid to third countries. Development aid is a tool to fight poverty and inequality, not to manage migration. Vulnerable populations should not be punished because of concerns that are largely political.
  4. Stop any readmissions or removals of people by the EU to a third country that violate – or risk violating – fundamental rights and rule of law, including the principle of non-refoulement. Ensure access to protection, justice and effective remedy for all people in migration and asylum procedures.
  5. Ensure transparency in the development of any instruments to manage migration and accountability for human rights violations resulting from EU migration policies.
  6. Commit to a foreign policy and action focused on preventing and unlocking protracted crises. While the Communication mentions the need to address root causes of displacement in the long term, it does not include engagement to prevent and manage crises.

1. ACT Alliance EU
2. ActionAid
3. aditus foundation
4. Afrique Culture Maroc
5. Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme
6. Aid Services
7. Amnesty International
8. Amycos
9. Andalucía Acoge
10. Asamblea de Cooperacion Por la Paz ACPP
11. Asgi - Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione
12. Asociacion por ti mujer
13. Asociacion Salud y Familia - Spain
14. Association for action against violence and trafficking in human beings-Open Gate
La Strada Macedonia.
15. Association for the Social Support of Youth
16. Ayuda en Acción
17. British Refugee Council
19. Care International
20. CCOO de Andalucia
21. Centre for Youths Integrated Development.
22. Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos PRO IGUAL
23. ChildFund Alliance
24. Church of Sweden
25. Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe
26. Citizens’ association for combating trafficking in human beings and all forms of genderbased
27. CNCD-11.11.11
28. Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado –CEAR-
29. Concern Worldwide
30. CONCORD Europe
31. CONCORD Sweden
32. Conseil des Béninois de France
33. Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic
34. Coordinadora Andaluza de ONGD
35. Coordinadora Cantabra de ONGD
36. Coordinadora de ONGD de la Región de Murcia
37. Coordinadora de ONGD del Principado de Asturias
38. Coordinadora de ONGD España
39. Coordinadora de ONGD Navarra
40. Coordinadora Extremeña de ONGD
41. Coordinadora Gallega de ONGD
42. Coordinadora ONGD de Castilla y León
43. Coordinadora Valenciana de ONGD
44. Cordaid
45. Detention Action
46. Detention Forum
47. Doctors of the World International network
48. EU-CORD Network
49. Eurochild
50. EuroMed Rights
51. European Association for the Defence of Human Rights
52. European Council on Refugees and Exiles
53. European Youth Forum
54. Federación Aragonesa de ONGD
55. Federación de Asociaciones de Derechos Humanos
56. Federation of Christian NGOs in Italy
58. FIDH
59. FIZ advocacy and support for migrant women and victims of trafficking
60. Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen e.V.
61. Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale issues des Migrations
62. Fundacion 1º de Mayo de Comisiones Obreras
63. Fundación Alianza por los Derechos, la Igualdad y la Solidaridad Internacional –APS-
64. Greek Forum of Refugees
65. Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa
66. Handicap International
67. Human Rights Watch
68. Human Rights Without Frontiers
69. Instituto Sindical de Cooperación al Desarrollo –ISCOD-
70. InteRed
72. Islamic Relief UK
73. Jesuit Refugee Service Europe.
74. Justice and Peace Netherlands
75. KISA-Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
76. Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale
Entwicklung und Mission
77. La Strada International
78. - Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
79. Le Monde des Possibles
80. Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
81. Menedék - Hungarian Association for Migrants
82. Migrant Voice UK
83. Migrants' Rights Network
84. Movimiento contra la Intolerancia
85. Movimiento por la Paz –MPDL-
86. Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
87. Norwegian Refugee Council
88. Oxfam
89. PAX
90. Pax Christi International
91. PICUM-Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants
92. Plan International EU office
93. Platform Minors in exile / Plate-forme Mineurs en exil / Platform Kinderen op de vlucht
94. Red Acoge
95. Réseau de Compétences Solidaires - Groupement d'Economie Sociale et Solidaire France -
Europe - Afrique
96. Réseau Immigration Développement Démocratie - IDD
97. Save the Children
98. SOS Children’s Villages International
99. SOS Racisme – Touche pas à mon pote
100. Stichting LOS
101. Swedish Refugee Advice Centre
102. Télécoms Sans Frontières
103. Terre des Hommes International Federation
104. The International Federation of Social Workers European Region
105. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture victims
106. the Norwegian Centre Against Racism
107. Trócaire
108.World Vision Brussels and EU Representation
109. ZOA