Millions of refugees in
Millions of refugees in
A few weeks ago media reports revealed that the EU border agency Frontex had not only covered up illegal pushbacks of refugees by Greek border guards, but was also actively involved in the practice. MEPs are now calling for the resignation of Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri. But commentators say the scandal goes far beyond misconduct by individuals.
Just over two weeks after the
In the aftermath of the
The British government plans to take steps to ensure that fewer migrants enter the country via the English Channel. Around 4,000 people have already made the crossing this year - twice as many as in the whole of 2019. Home Secretary Priti Patel has complained that France was doing too little to stop the crossings. Royal Navy ships are to be deployed to force small boats carrying migrants to turn back. The national press is divided on the issue.
In reaction to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, Hungary has closed its migrant transit zones and transferred the asylum seekers to other locations. This comes after the court ruled last week that the
Germany and Luxembourg took in minors from
With their refusal to take in asylum seekers from Italy and Greece during the 2015 refugee crisis Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic broke European law, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday. Back then the EU's interior ministers had decided to impose mandatory quotas for redistributing the refugees among all member states in order to ease the burden on the countries of arrival. What can the ruling achieve now - almost five years after the crisis?
For more than a week now Greek police have been using tear gas and water cannons against refugees and migrants who have gathered on the Greek-Turkish border in the hope of entering the EU after Turkey opened its border. Voices in Europe's press call on Brussels and the individual EU member states to come up with sensible strategies.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Finland violated the human rights convention by deporting an Iraqi who was shot shortly after his return to his home country in 2017. The man's family is entitled to 20,000 euros in compensation. Deportations to Iraq have now been temporarily halted. Finland's commentators are pleased with the ruling.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned on the weekend that Europe could be facing an even larger wave of migration than in 2015. During visits to Ankara and
At least one woman has perished in a fire that broke out during riots at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Human rights organisations have been decrying the conditions at this so-called "hotspot" as unbearable for some time. Now the Greek government has reacted by tightening the country's asylum policy. Is this the right response?
At their Malta mini-summit at the start of the week the interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy and Malta reached an agreement on a provisional solution for migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea. Commentators discuss whether this offers a first glimmer of hope for joint action on migration policy.
After almost three weeks in limbo the rescue ship
Last summer the newly elected Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made headlines when he allowed the
Under a new security decree approved by the Italian Senate anyone who brings migrants into
There is finally some movement in the
Carola Rackete, captain of the rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, has been released. She was arrested after docking a ship carrying 40 migrants in Lampedusa despite a ban. Politicians and prominent public figures harshly criticised Rome for her arrest. Observers say the episode highlights Europe's division and failures in migration policy.
The United Nations has released a shocking report to mark
Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio has accused France of pursuing a "colonial policy" in Africa and blamed it for the "mass exodus" to Europe. Paris reacted by summoning the Italian ambassador. But this only prompted Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to mock Macron, saying that he talked a lot but achieved little.
Matteo Salvini has remained firm after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean left 170 dead last week. Italy's Interior Minister stressed once again that his country will not open its ports to rescue ships carrying migrants, and blamed aid organisations for the tragedy. NGO ships are only encouraging the traffickers, he said. Commentators have harsh words for the minister.
According to official reports around 230 refugees tried to cross the Channel to get to Britain from France in December. On 25 December alone, 40 migrants in a dinghy were rescued. Home Secretary Sajid Javid assigned more ships to the waters to patrol the border. Concern for human lives does not seem to be a primary concern in the view of commentators.
The international community will meet in Marrakesh on December 10 and 11 to ratify the UN migration pact. But as the conference draws closer more and more countries are saying they won't sign it - in addition to several Eastern European countries and Austria now Italy has followed suit. The non-binding agreement is meant to help control the flow of refugees and migrants. What makes the pact so contentious?
Migration was the second big topic alongside Brexit at the
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán want to do more to "protect Europe" against the
After a week of delay an Italian coastguard ship carrying 177 migrants has been given permission to dock in Sicily. Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini had initially threatened to have the migrants brought back to Libya if other EU member states refused to take them in. Commentators find Salvini's approach reprehensible but sympathise with his cause.
Angela Merkel and her Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez have agreed to collaborate more closely on the issue of migrants from North Africa. Morocco is to receive more money for border control measures while Spain will take back individual refugees heading for Germany. Can Berlin and Madrid give the starting signal for a new refugee policy with the deal?
More refugees are now arriving in Spain than in the past twelve years, and the number has for the first time exceeded those arriving in Italy. The new head of Spain's conservative Popular Party,
The European Commission has upped the pressure on the conservative nationalist government in Budapest over its
A maritime rescue team discovered on Tuesday a woman clinging to the remains of a rubber dinghy, flanked by two corpses. Rescue organisations accuse the Libyan coastguard of failing to render assistance and leaving migrants to die in the Mediterranean. How can the EU rely on cooperation with a
Only after the intervention of Italian President Sergio Mattarella has Interior Minister Matteo Salvini allowed 67 refugees who had been rescued by the Italian coast guard to set foot on Italian soil. Salvini had initially blocked the ship's access to a port in Sicily and then prevented the men on board from leaving the vessel. What is Salvini trying to achieve?
German Interior Minister Seehofer (CSU) has paid a visit to Austrian Chancellor Kurz in a bid to push through his
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) have buried the hatchet in their
The 28 EU heads of state and government want to strengthen the border control agency Frontex and establish processing centres for boat refugees, who are then to be distributed to EU member states that are willing to take them in. Commentators of left-wing and centre-left media focus on the fate of refugees who suffer under the policy of isolation.
With immediate effect people in Hungary can be sent to prison if they "assist illegal migration" by, for example, helping migrants who do not have refugee status to apply for asylum. In addition, a constitutional amendment stipulating that in future no "foreign populations" should be allowed to settle in Hungary was passed with only five votes against. Commentators, not only in Hungary, are appalled.
Shortly before the EU summit this weekend - and after the
There is still no sign of an agreement in the dispute over Germany's asylum policy. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) continues to insist that asylum seekers registered in another EU country should be turned back at Germany's borders. Chancellor Merkel (CDU) is calling for a pan-European solution. Commentators ask what consequences a victory for Seehofer would have, and why Merkel's position is so weak.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has reached an agreement with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on closer cooperation in refugee policy. Together with Rome, Berlin and Vienna are to form an "axis of the willing". Commentators are upset by the use of this historically-charged term for a cooperation that has yet to be clarified.
Spain's new government has offered to allow the rescue ship Aquarius carrying 629 refugees to dock in a Spanish port. However, the lack of supplies on board makes the journey to Spain a risky undertaking. Before Spain's decision Malta and Italy had spent days locked in a dispute over who would accept the ship. For commentators the Aquarius drama highlights the failure of Europe's asylum policy.
Asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected in Denmark are in future to be housed in a "not particularly attractive" location outside the country, according to Prime Minister Lars Lökke Rasmussen. The plans for the camp were developed together with other countries, including Austria. While some commentators applaud the decision others comment that Europe's asylum policy is increasingly focused on deterrence.
The heads of state and government were unable to overcome their differences regarding binding quotas for a fair distribution of refugees at their EU summit in Brussels. EU Council President Donald Tusk and several Eastern European states want to scrap the refugee quotas system, while receiving countries like Germany and the Netherlands call for solidarity. The deeply entrenched front lines are also reflected in Europe's commentaries.
The UN has sharply criticised the EU for cooperating with the Libyan coastguard service in the
The ECJ has rejected the complaint lodged by Hungary and Slovakia against the quotas established in 2015 for redistributing refugees. Bratislava plans to accept the ruling, while Budapest has announced that it won't comply. What consequences will the ruling have for refugee policy and the EU's conduct towards Hungary?
European and African leaders have met in Paris to discuss ways of stemming
Libya's coastguard has boosted its activities in the Mediterranean and
The Balkan route is closed off, but the problem remains unsolved. More than 90,000 refugees have already reached Italy this year, while over 2,000 have drowned in the Mediterranean. Rome is becoming increasingly critical of the rescue missions out at sea and the Ministry of the Interior and NGOs are wrangling over a code of conduct meant to regulate these operations. Both the EU and the NGOs need to act now, commentators stress.
In view of rising migrant numbers in Italy, the government in Vienna has threatened to ramp up border controls and send troops to guard
France and Germany have promised to show "unflinching solidarity" with Italy in the
"Decisions that have been made are applicable law, even if one voted against them". With these words EU Commission President Juncker has defended the infringement procedures against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The three states refuse to comply with the quota system for the distribution of refugees decided in 2015. Are sanctions justified? And what should Brussels do next?
Hungary's government has passed
The EU member states are not obliged to issue visas to refugees at their foreign missions so that they can travel to these countries and apply for asylum there, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. Instead decisions regarding the issue of visas must be governed by national laws, it decided. Many governments are relieved at this ruling by the EU's highest court, but Europe's press is at odds.
The EU wants to limit migration from Northern Africa by intensifying cooperation with Libya. Stepped-up controls of the Libyan coastline are to dissuade refugees from crossing the Mediterranean and encourage them to remain at reception centres in the country, the heads of state and government resolved at their meeting in Malta. An agreement with an unstable state will achieve nothing, commentators stress, and see Moscow taking a leading role.
As of March the European Commission wants to resume the policy of having refugees to the EU who first set foot in Greece transferred back there. This part of the Dublin Regulation was suspended in 2011 because Greek reception centres didn't conform with international standards. Athens is still not prepared for such a move, some commentators warn. Others believe there won't be any transfers even if the plan goes ahead.
A month after the
In a referendum on October 2 the citizens of Hungary will vote on whether to accept mandatory quotas for the
Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have opposed EU refugee quotas and instead proposed the model of "flexible solidarity" at the EU summit in Bratislava. The concept aims to allow member states to decide for themselves how they will help ease the crisis, taking into account their respective experiences and capabilities. Will the Visegrád states' anti-refugee stance win out?
The British government plans to build a big cement wall in Calais to prevent refugees from getting into the Eurotunnel. The wall would be part of a 20-million euro package with which London and Paris aim to boost border protection. Some commentators see the plans as proof of the EU's failure in the refugee crisis. Others see the barrier as a reasonable measure.
The EU Commission has firmed up its plans for a common European asylum system. A draft regulation foresees a revision of the Dublin Regulation. Under the new rules countries that refuse to take in refugees would pay into a fund while those taking in refugees would receive financial support. Some commentators see the plan as the long-awaited breakthrough; others are very sceptical.
Under pressure from Interior Minister Milan Chovanec the government in Prague has put an early end to a pilot project for resettling persecuted Christians from Iraq. The move came after 25 of the 90 Iraqis participating in the project tried to move on to Germany to apply for asylum there instead of staying in the Czech Republic. The Czech press discusses the interior minister's reaction.
Ahead of the EU summit at the end of the week resistance is growing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal of a quota system for distributing refugees. The fact that large and prosperous countries such as France have now stopped toeing the line leaves commentators increasingly sceptical about the future cohesion of the EU.
At the request of Berlin, Athens and Ankara, Nato will deploy ships to the Aegean under German command. Some commentators hope the mission will be more effective in fighting people smugglers and improve cooperation between Turkey and Greece. Others warn that just going after rubber boats won't solve the refugee crisis.
Faced with hundreds of thousands of refugees on the move, several Schengen countries have reintroduced temporary border controls. French experts estimate that the EU economy would lose around 100 billion euros if permanent border controls are introduced in the Schengen zone. Can the Europe without borders still be saved?
After Sweden on Monday introduced passport checks for everyone entering the country from Denmark, Copenhagen has in turn introduced controls on its border with Germany. Both countries want to limit the number of refugees entering their territory with these measures. The much proclaimed end of the Schengen Area will become reality in 2016, some commentators predict. Others suspect that Northern Europe simply wants to exclude the weaker South from Schengen.
The EU Commission wants to expand Frontex and give it a stronger mandate. It presented its plans on Tuesday in Strasbourg. In future the agency will be able to deploy border protection forces even against the will of individual member states. Some commentators see the strengthening of this body as long overdue. For others the goal of sealing Europe off is an illusion.