FREE NEWS 14TH – 15TH MARCH

Justice and Home Affairs : Amnesty International critical of EU-Turkey migrant plan (New Europe)
The head of Amnesty International has criticised a draft European Union plan to return some migrants to Turkey.
In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said “It’s flawed, morally and legally”.
Under a tentative deal struck on March 7, Turkey will accept migrants who had entered Europe from Turkey in exchange for more funding, an earlier introduction of visa-free travel to Europe for Turks and the promise to speed up Turkey’s EU membership talks.
Shetty told Reuters that he would meet France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, European Council President Donald Tusk and other EU officials this week “to directly express our shock and outrage at what they are coming up with”[…]

Justice and Home Affairs: 3 Afghans drowned in Suva Reka FYROM – Greece border river passage while over 30 photojournalists got arrested by FYROM police (NewEurope)
3 Afghan migrants drowned in Suva Reka river between Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece, while atempting to cross the dangerous pass, as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirm, while over 30 photojournalists arrested by FYROM police, as they followed refugees that attempted to cross Greece – FYROM border in Vardar river area.Photojournalists and journalists followed around 2,000 refugees that left Idomeni camp area in order to find open passage, as Greece – FYROM buffer zone keeps being inaccessible since last Monday. The refugees attempted to cross the fenceless border line river passage while realizing FYROM army and police forces were present in the area. ANA-MPA photojournalist stressed that before realizing that they have crossed the border, they were arrested and taken to Moin, a village west of Idomeni, from FYROM side […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Commission assesses Bulgarian request to include Bulgaria – Turkey borders to agreement as “legitimate”  (NewEurope)
“The Bulgarian intention is totally legitimate for Bulgaria to bring forward this request to discuss it,” Margaritis Schinas, Commission Chief Spokesperson said of Bulgaria’s request for the Bulgarian-Russian border to be included in the refugee deal. Schinas spoke on Monday, ahead of Thursday’s EU Summit in Brussels.
The European Commission commented on Bulgaria’s request saying any finalized refugee deal shouldn’t focus on flows of people between Turkey and Greece. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, expressed the opinion that the deal should include the border area between Bulgaria and Turkey, but also other EU maritime borders, such as the Black Sea. Schinas said “we should wait for this discussion to happen” so as to secure the flows and returns of the illegal entrants from Turkey, as a condition from Bulgarian authorities to support the final deal […]

Refugee Crisis: EU-Turkey refugee deal – Q&A (TheGuardian)
What does the deal involve?
It sounds simple enough: one Syrian refugee on the Greek islands will be returned to Turkey and, in exchange, a Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey will be found a home in Europe. The one in, one out scheme provisionally agreed by the EU and Turkey was hailed as a breakthrough by European leaders. But as well as the knotty legal and moral issues, a host of practical questions remain unresolved. How many people would be exchanged? When would it start? These are just some of the questions EU officials hope to iron out ahead of an EU summit on 17-18 March […]

Migration: EU leaders must show conscience on refugees (EuObserver)
One hundred and forty thousand desperate people have already crossed the Aegean Sea in flimsy boats to Europe this year. Thirty five thousand of them are trapped in Greece, in limbo, with no way forward or back.
Thirteen thousand people are in tents on the Greece-Macedonia border, in pouring rain. A further 2,000 are stranded in Serbia. Fourteen people were killed by a train while sleeping, exhausted, on a railway track in Macedonia. Two people froze to death crossing the mountains in Bulgaria. These are the numbers that define Europe’s refugee crisis. On top of the million people who arrived last year they represent a challenge to Europe’s compassion and competence […]

Migration: Three people die after EU border clampdown (EuObserver)
Two men and one woman on Monday (14 March) became the first victims of the EU’s decision to close Western Balkan borders.
They drowned in the Suva river, swollen after days of heavy rain, near the Greek border with Macedonia, Macedonia’s interior ministry said. Police said 23 other people were rescued and taken to a camp on the Macedonian side […]

Refugee Crisis: Refugees frustrated in a Greek cul-de-sac (Euractiv)
Uncertainty is rife among refugees on Greek soil as no one has told them what will happen next or how to proceed. Germany’s interior minister has offered help to Athens, but downplayed the seriousness of their situation. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports. On Friday (11 March), more than 3,000 refugees were in Athens’ main port of Piraeus, many of them huddled in tents. They are merely a fraction of the other tens of thousands of refugees currently on Greek soil, from the Aegean islands to the northern camp of Idomeni on the FYRO Macedonian border.
“The biggest problem is that they don’t know what to do next,” said Nikitas Kanakis, head of Doctors of the World’s Greek branch, adding, “no one has explained to them what will happen next”. He predicted that the number of refugees arriving in Piraeus will only increase, due to the number of people still arriving on the Greek islands in the Aegean […]

Migration: Hundreds of refugees make defiant journey on foot into Macedonia (TheGuardian)
Hundreds of asylum seekers have walked en masse into Macedonia in defiance of European attempts to seal the continent’s southern borders to people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East. Dramatic photographs and videos showed crowds of men, women and children wading through the river on Monday afternoon to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, where more than 12,000 had been stuck for more than a week. Refugees stood in the water and formed human chains to pass babies and toddlers to safety on the other side, desperate to escape a squalid shanty town in northern Greece where medics have reported an outbreak of hepatitis A […]

Refugee crisis: how Greeks opened their hearts to strangers (TheGuardian)
Compassion, kindness, generosity of spirit: all three apply to Panayiota Drougas and her husband, Dimitris, as they pace the platform of the train station at Idomeni.
There is no reason in the world that they should be here. Idomeni, at the best of times, is a godforsaken place: bleak, barren and infused with a melancholy typical of remote border posts. It is a starkness made more haunting still by the thousands of refugees who, following the railway tracks that have led them to this northern corner of Greece, now live in a squalid camp that has sprung up around the Macedonian frontier – which is, of course, why the couple are here.
“We saw their little faces on television, all these children, so hungry, so tired, and just wanted to help,” says Panayiota, a retired headteacher, handing out the 150 chocolate-filled croissants the pair have brought with them […]

Refugee crisis: Balkan countries shut borders as attention turns to new refugee routes (TheGuardian)
European leaders claim to have closed the main refugee route to northern Europe, raising the possibility of tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugees being trapped in Greece while the EU attempts to finalise a deal that could see them all returned to Turkey. Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia – three of the countries that lie between Greece and the preferred refugee destinations in northern Europe – all announced on Wednesday that their borders were now shut. Several hundred thousand asylum-seekers have used this route to reach countries such as Germany since it became popular last summer, most of them transported and sheltered by Balkan countries during their journey […]

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THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS’ EVENTS: 14TH MARCH – 18TH MARCH

General events of the Council of the European Union and Calendar of Meetings (Committee Working Parties)

General events of the European Parliament

General events of the European Commission and DG Home

General events of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Main events in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) and External

14th March

European Parliament
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Development  Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 3G-3
15.00 – 16.00 Joint debate with the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
• Proposed Council Regulation on the provision of emergency support within the   Union  (DEVE/8/05940) – debate with Christos STYLIANIDES, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management

15:00 – 18:30 Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (TAXE 2) Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 3E-2                                                                              15:00 – 18:30 Committee on International Trade Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 1A002
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 6Q2
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Transport and Tourism Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q2
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 3C050
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Culture and Education Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 1G3
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Legal Affairs Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 5E-2
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Constitutional Affairs Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 4B001
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Petitions Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q1

Public Hearings:
15:00 – 16:30 The protection of vulnerable adults: a cross-border perspective  Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 5E2
Organised by the Legal Affairs Committee, MEPs will debate with legal experts the cross-border implications of the legal protection of vulnerable adults. This is a major issue, as there is an increasing number of mobile senior citizens within the European Union. Each Member State has a legal system in place to protect such persons, but there is no effective system to ensure that the protection remains in place following a move – or even during a temporary stay – to another Member State.
15:00 – 17:30 e-Democracy in the European Union: potential and challenges
Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 4B1
In the context of the report by Ramón JÁUREGUI ATONDO (S&D, ES) on “e-Democracy in the European Union: potential and challenges”, this hearing, organised by the Constitutional Affairs Committee, will explore the potential and challenges of such an innovative form of democracy and will provide some elements of reflection to the report.The Policy Department C has also commissioned a study on the feasibility of a European identity document and the related electronic identification technologies, which should be ready by next April.

Delegation: DROI mission to the 31st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Geneva, Switzerland 14-15 March 2016

Council of the European Union
Foreign Affairs Council-Council of the European Union Meeting n°3457 Brussels
JHA COUNSELLORS Meeting n°245349 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 70.5
JHA COUNSELLORS Meeting n°246345 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.6

15th March

European Parliament
The President’s diary Brussels: h12:00 Meeting with Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, Salon Protocolaire A – h15:00 Extraordinary Conference of Presidents, in the presence of Donald Tusk, President of the European Council – h17:00 Meeting with Pavel Filip, Prime Minister of Moldova – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, Grand Salon Protocolaire – h18:00 Meeting with Pedro Agramunt, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, Salon Protocolaire A.

09:15 – 17:30 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q1
• Hearing jointly with the Petitions, Legal Affairs and Constitutional Affairs committees in cooperation with the European Commission – “Union Citizenship in Practice: Our common values, rights and democratic participation”
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Foreign Affairs Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 2Q2
09:00 – 18:30 Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (TAXE 2) Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 3E-2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on International Trade Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 1A002
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Budgetary Control Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 5G-3
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 6Q2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Transport and Tourism Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 3C050
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Culture and Education Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 1G3
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Legal Affairs Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 5E2
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Constitutional Affairs Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 4B001
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 3G2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Petitions Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q1
Delegation:DROI mission to the 31st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Geneva, Switzerland 14-15 March 2016

Public hearings
09:15 – 17:30 Union Citizenship in Practice: Our common values, rights and democratic participation  Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q1
This hearing, jointly organised by the European Parliament (Petitions, Civil Liberties, Legal Affairs and Constitutional Affairs committees) and the European Commission (DG Justice and Consumers) will give the opportunity to reflect, with all actors concerned, on concrete avenues to advance EU citizenship. The objective of the hearing is to look at ways of simplifying and facilitating the exercise of EU citizens’ rights in their daily life, as well as to promote our common values and democratic participation.
MEPs will discuss with experts, professionals and civil society possible solutions and the way forward which will provide an opportunity to the shaping of the future for EU citizens.

15:00 – 17:30 Integration of immigrants and their children through education and culture
Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 01G03
Members of the Committee on Culture and Education will debate with experts and representatives of the civil society issues relating to immigration and the subsequent integration of newcomers. Integration of students and teachers at school and by cultural education in non-formal contexts will be also discussed. Ms Kashetu Kyenge, LIBE Committee rapporteur on ‘The situation in the Mediterranean and need for a holistic approach to migration’, will also present her draft report.

Council of the European Union
General Affairs Council – Council of the European Union Meeting n°3458 Brussels
Political and Security Committee (PSC) Meeting n°243235 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.6
JHA COUNSELLORS Meeting n°246346 Justus Lipsius h15:00 Room 20.3

16th March

European Parliament
The President’s diary Brussels h10:00 Meeting with Luca Visentini, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, President’s office – 10:30 Meeting with Koen Lenaerts, President of the European Court of Justice – Paul-Henri SpaakBuilding, 9th floor, President’s office

Press conference: 11:00 – 11:30 The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration”  Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 0A050 Kashetu KYENGE (S&D, IT) and Roberta METSOLA (EPP, MT), rapporteurs

09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 6Q2VOTES (09.05-10.50)
• Establishment of a touring visa and amendment to the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement and Regulations (EC) No 562/2006 and (EC) No 767/2008 (COD), rapporteur Brice HORTEFEUX (EPP, FR) – vote on draft report and vote on the opening of interinstitutional negotiations and the composition of the negotiating team pursuant to Rule 73(2)
• Union Code on Visas (recast (COD), rapporteur Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR        (S&D, ES) – vote on draft report and vote on the opening of interinstitutiona negotiations and the composition of the negotiating team pursuant to Rule 73(2)
• Situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (INI) , co-rapporteurs Roberta METSOLA (EPP, MT) and Kashetu KYENGE (S&D, IT) – vote on draft report
• Public access to documents (Rule 116(7) for the years 2014-2015 (INI), rapporteur Laura FERRARA (EFDD, IT) – vote on draft report
• Agreement on Strategic Cooperation between the Federative Republic of Brazil and Europol (CNS), rapporteur Claude MORAES (S&D, UK) – vote on draft report
end of votes
• European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS): exchange of information on third country nationals (COD), rapporteur Timothy KIRKHOPE (ECR, UK) – discussion with the Commission (12.00-12.30)
• The situation in Greece as regards migration and refugees – discussion with Ioannis MOUZALAS, Greek Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy (15.00-16.45)

09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Budgets Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q-1
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 3C50
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Employment and Social Affairs Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 1A002
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 2Q2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Industry, Research and Energy Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q2
15:00 – 18:30 Committee on Regional Development Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 1G3

Public hearing
09:00 – 12:30 Public hearing on the human rights situation in the countries of origin and transit of migration Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, A3G-3
The DROI subcommittee will hold an hearing on the human rights situation in the countries of origin and transit of migration during which three core topics will be addressed: the main causes of migration, the problem of human rights violations that occur along migration routes and the importance of a human rights-based approach to migration-related policies. Red Crescent from Tunisia, the International Organisation of Migration of Turkey and a representative from the Jordan government will present their regional perspectives.

Council of the European Union
Coreper I Meeting n°243236 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.7

17th March

European Parliament
The President’s diary Brussels h9:55 Official welcome of His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of Jordan – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, Protocol entrance – h10:00 Meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of Jordan – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, Grand Salon Protocolaire – h16:00 European Council

09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 6Q2
• Combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA (COD), rapporteur Monika HOHLMEIER (EPP, DE) – discussion on draft report (09.00-10.00)
• Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (COD), rapporteur Bodil VALERO (Greens/EFA, SE) – discussion on draft opinion (11.10-12.00)                                         12.00-12.30:
• Short-stay visa waiver: agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Peru (NLE), rapporteur Mariya GABRIEL (EPP, BG) – discussion on the state of play with the Council Presidency and Commission
• Short-stay visa waivers: agreements between the European Union and the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Palau and the Kingdom of Tonga (NLE), rapporteur Mariya GABRIEL (EPP, BG) – joint debate on draft reports                                                       15.00-18.30:
• High -Level Hearing on “The new US Privacy Shield for commercial transfers of EU personal data to the US” –
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Budgets Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q-1
09:00 – 10:30 Committee on Employment and Social Affairs Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak, 1A002
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 2Q2
09:00 – 18:30 Committee on Industry, Research and Energy Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 4Q2
09:00 – 12:30 Committee on Regional Development Brussels, Altiero Spinelli, 1G3

Public Hearing                                                                                                                              15:00 – 18:30 The new US Privacy Shield for commercial transfers of EU personal data to the US Brussels, Jòzsef Antall, 6Q2
Organised by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the aim of this hearing is to take stock of the unveiled understanding between the European Commission and the US authorities on a new framework (Privacy Shield) which would replace the former US Safe Harbour for commercial transfers of EU personal data to US entities.The Commission intends to quickly adopt a Decision declaring the adequate level of protection
which would be provided by the new “Privacy Shield”. The hearing will enable the Parliament to gather proper information and a better insight of this new instrument so as to assess its different aspects as regards the protection of the rights of individuals in respect of their personal data and fundamental rights.

Council of the European Union
European Council 17-18/03/2016 Brussels Chaired by Donald Tusk

Court of Justice of the European Union
09:00 Opinion C-155/15 – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Karim – Court of Justice – Grand Chamber – Courtroom III – Level 6
09:00 Judgment C-175/15 – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Taser International – Court of Justice – Sixth Chamber – Courtroom III – Level 6
09:30 Judgment C-695/15 PPU – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Mirza – Court of Justice – Fourth Chamber – Courtroom IV – Level 6
09:00 Opinion C-63/15 – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Ghezelbash – Court of Justice – Grand Chamber – Courtroom III – Level 6

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FREE NEWS 7TH-10TH MARCH

Justice and Home Affairs: EU to send smuggled Syrians back to Turkey (EuObserver)
The EU will start returning all irregular migrants back to Turkey from the Greek islands, including smuggled Syrian nationals, under a plan hammered out with Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a summit in Brussels.
“The prime minister [Davutoglu] confirmed to accept the rapid return of all migrants coming from Turkey to Greece that are not in need of international protection,” EU Council president Donald Tusk told reporters in the early hours of Tuesday (8 March)[…]

Justice and Home Affairs: European Green Party: ‘The EU cannot think to outsource its migration management to Turkey (NewEurope)
The European Green Party warned on March 7 that it cannot accept a deal that does not include a serious relocation mechanism of refugees among the EU countries.
In a statement released by the EGP’s co-chairs, Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer said: “Time has come for the EU to deliver on and to expand the decisions it took in the last few months. We need a comprehensive, stable and common approach to the migration crisis: the EU cannot think to ‘outsource’ its management to Turkey”. According to Frassoni, there is no doubt that economic support from the EU to Turkey is needed […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Amnesty criticizes EU-Turkey draft deal (NewEurope)
The EU-Turkey anticipated refugee deal would lead to more migration tragedies, according to a press release by Amnesty International. The international organization criticized the proposed plan between the EU and Turkey which says that for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece, a Syrian will be settled within the EU. According to Amnesty, the plan doesn’t offer any incentive to the people in need to stop risking their live trying to reach the EU through Greece. The plan “make every resettlement place offered to a Syrian in the EU contingent upon another Syrian risking their life,” Amnesty said. The NGO stressed that Europe needs to offer safe and legal ways to the people in need to reach the wanted destinations[…]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU-Turkey deal could see Syrian refugees back in war zones, says UN (The Guardian)
A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone.
Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, questioned the legality of an outline deal struck by the EU and Turkey.
“As a first reaction I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another, without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law,” he said on Tuesday […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Majority of refugee women traumatised by violence (EurActiv)
Violence against women and girls in refugee camps remains a fact of life, due to the lack of a binding protection strategy and the member states’ delay in implementing the EU Asylum Directive. EurActiv Germany reports.
Europe is currently facing the most serious refugee crisis since the end of World War II. However, for many refugees, escaping the conflict and turmoil of their homelands does not necessarily mean the end of their suffering or hardships. In particular, women and girls are often subjugated to violence or sexual assault in refugee camps and accommodation. Although EU member states are obligated to transpose the rules laid down by the so-called Reception Directive, which governs standards of living and protective measures, Germany still lacks a binding protection system for vulnerable new arrivals […]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU leaders postpone deal with Turkey until next week (NewEurope)
After what some called a “blackmail move” and others a way of “outsourcing refugees”, EU leaders decided to postpone taking a decision on Turkey’s new proposals until the future EU summit next week.
Europe’s hopes that Brussels and Ankara were nearing a deal for Turkey to take back migrants reaching Greece faded late on Monday night after Turkey made a last-minute call for more money and quicker access to European visas in return for its help, measures some leaders said they needed more time to consider.
During 12 hours of negotiations, Turkey insisted that any agreement would require Europe to advance Turkey’slong-delayed hope of joining the bloc […]

Justice and Home Affairs: One in, one out – the EU’s simplistic answer to the refugee crisis (The Guardian)
One in, one out. That was the unexpected compromise occupying EU and Turkish leaders in Brussels as they sought a means of managing Europe’s refugee crisis.
Details were still being hammered out on Monday as the talks reached witching hour, and the plan may yet fold. But at one point European top brass were at least considering the orderly resettlement of one Syrian directly from Turkey in exchange for each asylum seeker it readmits after they land on the shores of neighbouring Greece […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Schulz says no to Turkey’s attempt to link refugee issue with EU access (NewEurope)
“We have to separate the access negotiation between Turkey and the EU and all the questions related to opening of new chapters related to the management refugee crisis”, underlined European Parliament President Martin Schulz, while pointing the major remarks of the EU – Turkey Summit from his own angle. “It is clear that there is an attempt to link the refugee and migration process with access to EU process”, assessed Schulz, making European Parliament’s position on the issue crystal clear: “We have to separate the access negotiation”, he said, while taking the opportunity given by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Prime Minister, “to open new chapters and discuss about fundamental rights and freedom media”, naming the recent Zaman seizing case.Schulz did not fail to raise concerns of development at the SE of Turkey, talking about a “very difficalt situation”. He repeated that “for the European Parliament, the PKK is a terrorist organization, but the spiral of violence can’t be broken with the strategy that only a military solution is possible”, he added […]

Refugee Crisis: Europe neglects integration of refugees as humanitarian tragedy looms (EurActiv)
Refugees and asylum seekers risk suffering “long-term damage” due to ill-prepared policies to integrate them, the OECD has warned, while European nations start preparing for the worst. One year after refugees started arriving ‘en masse’ in Europe, integration policies are absent from the debate, as member states seem overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the numbers seen. “This sudden arrival of so many brings challenges for infrastructure, facilities and communities,” commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Marianne Thyssen, told EurActiv on 2 March. Europe is now preparing for the worst as the continent faces a humanitarian crisis on its soil, caused by nations’ failure to protect the EU’s external borders and share the burden of refugees landing mainly in Greece. The European Commission’s proposal to mobilise €700 million of existing EU funding for humanitarian aid within the EU borders represents a turning point in the refugee crisis […]

Refugee Crisis: Will Greece become the Calais of Europe? (EurActiv)
Greece is at risk of becoming one giant refugee hotspot. The closure of its northern border and the continued influx of refugees from Turkey has placed Athens in a critical situation. EurActiv’s partner La Tribune reports.
Last Tuesday (1 March), in an interview with Slovakian newspaper Hospodarske Noviny, the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico once again provoked the Greek government in no uncertain terms: “Tsipras, if you do not make an effort, there will only be one hotspot, and it will be called Greece.”
This understandably raised some heckles in Greece, not only for its threatening overtones, but because it evokes a situation that is already becoming a reality […]

Refugee Crsis: Schulz: ‘Refugee crisis is going to cost us all a lot more’ (EurActiv)
Ahead of the extraordinary EU summit currently going on in Brussels, European Parliament President Martin Schulz told EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel that he wants efforts for a European solution to the refugee crisis to be increased, so that the bloc remains “unbroken”.
Martin Schulz spoke with Der Tagesspiegel’s Hans Monath and Albrecht Meier. Before Angela Merkel joins her European colleagues at the Council meeting, how isolated will the German Chancellor feel in terms of her approach to tackling the refugee crisis?
Angela Merkel is certainly in a difficult position, but she is not isolated. The number of member states realising that this is not just a German problem is increasing and the implementation of a reasonable distribution of refugees throughout Europe is being accepted by more countries […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Greece is for the moment “a storage” of 34,000 souls, and counting (NewEurope)
The Balkan route to Europe is closed for refugees. Whether the EU-turkey deal is effective will be tested in the next few hours.
Slovenia announced on Tuesday evening that refugees without a valid Schengen visa will not be allowed passage; Croatia followed and Serbia said this “practically closes the Balkan route.” The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria will not let migrants through without visas either.
The domino effect was swift and it is now an open ended question whether Greece will become “a storage of souls” as its Prime Minister had promised it will not […]

See also: Balkan Route ‘closed’ after cascade of border shutdowns (EurActiv)
Slovenia and Serbia said on Tuesday (8 March) they would place new restrictions on the entry of migrants, putting extra obstacles in the way of those trying to reach the European Union via the Balkans.
The decisions to further restrict routes taken by more than a million migrants in the last year were announced hours after EU leaders declared an end to a mass scramble to reach wealthy countries in Europe from war zones. “From midnight, there will be no more migration on the Western Balkan route as it took place so far,” the Interior Ministry of EU member Slovenia said in a statement […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Avramopoulos: Balkan route is not closed yet, but we are prepared if this happens (NewEurope)
The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, appeared confident that the EU and Western Balkan countries are “well prepared” for possible flow redirections, in case the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece at Idomeni closes.
However, Avramopoulos underlined that the Balkan route is not closed at the moment, answering to New Europe on Wednesday afternoon.

Justice and Home Affairs: EU parliament slams ‘sultan’ Erdogan on Turkey deal (EurActiv)
European Parliament lawmakers accused the EU Wednesday (9 March) of giving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the “keys to the gates of Europe” through a migration crisis deal with Ankara.
At a summit on Monday (7 March) European Union leaders agreed to work for an agreement with Turkey that would include a ‘one-for-one’ swap of Syrian refugees and a doubling of aid for Ankara to six billion euros.
But European Parliament Liberal group leader and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt told MEPs in Strasbourg, France that the deal was “hugely problematic”.
“It is a deal with Turkey in which we outsource our problems,” Verhofstadt said […]

Migration: Fears grow on alternative migrant routes in Europe (EuObserver)
Fears are growing that migrants and refugees will try to enter the EU via Albania and the Adriatic Sea after Europe on Wednesday (9 March) closed the Western Balkan corridor.
There is no sign yet of a build-up of people on the Albanian-Greek border.
But Albania, a Nato member and EU aspirant with a population of less than 3 million, could be a gateway to Italy […]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU concerned over fragmentation of Balkan migration route (NewEurope)
As the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece Idomeni border situation remains difficult, the European Commission today denied that the EU has moved on to crisis management mode from trying to provide a “comprehensive solution. “We are doing both”, answered Alexander Winterstein, Deputy Chief Spokesperson, reassuring the press at today’s briefing.
The European Commission appears worried over the development of alternative migration routes, passing via Albania – Italy and Bulgaria, since the Idomeni border hasn’t opened to migrants since Monday […]

Migration: EGP: ‘Organising arrival of refugees in Europe could prove a better solution’ (NewEurope)
Following the European Union migration summit, Monica Frassoni, co-chair of the European Green Party (EGP), warned the EU is being held hostage by the Turkish government which is becoming increasingly “arrogant” at the negotiation table.
“And yet, organising the arrival of refugees in Europe could prove a better solution than insisting in rejecting them,” Frassoni said. “It is becoming clear that the majority of EU countries’ refusal to manage, both at national and EU level, a common plan for the distribution, welcoming and integration of refugees is costlier than agreeing to deal with it properly, in terms of human suffering, public resources, coherence with our values and political credibility” […]

 

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THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS’ EVENTS: 07TH MARCH – 11TH MARCH

General events of the Council of the European Union and Calendar of Meetings (Committee Working Parties)

General events of the European Parliament

General events of the European Commission and DG Home

General events of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Main events in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) and External

07th March

European Parliament
Plenary agenda in Strasbourg 17:00 – 23:00 Debates: Resumption of session and order of business; Aid scheme for the supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in the educational establishments; Animal health; Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports;Annual report 2014 on the Protection of the EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud; Towards a thriving data-driven economy; Short presentation of the following report: Gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament; One-minute speeches (Rule 163)
The President’s diary Brussels/ Strasbourg: h9:25 Official welcome of Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, protocol entrance – h9:30 Meeting with Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey, followed by press point- Paul-Henri Spaak Building, 9th floor, President´s office- 10:00 Press point with Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey – Paul-Henri Spaak Building, protocol entrance official backdrop – h 11:00 Meeting with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean- Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey – European Council – h17:00 Opening of the Plenary- h18:30 Bureau Meeting.

Council of the European Union
Meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey, International Summit Brussels

08th March

European Parliament
Plenary session in Strasbourg
09:00 – 12:30 International Women’s Day
09:00 – 11:20 Debates: The socio-economic situation of women in Europe; The situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU
11:30 – 12:30 Address by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for refugees
12:30 – 14:30 VOTES followed by explanations of votes: Aid scheme for the supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in the educational establishments; Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports; Harmonised indices of consumer prices; Annual report 2014 on the Protection of the EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud; Gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament; The situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU
15:00 – 23:00 Debates:Situation in Syria; Communication on implementing the European agenda on migration; Interinstitutional agreement on Better law-making; Posting of workers; What is a ‘social triple-A’ rating?; Procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings; Guidelines for the 2017 Budget – Section III
The President’s diary Strasbourg: h11:30 Chairing of the Plenary – h16:15 Conference of Delegation Chairs – Winston Churchill Building

Council of the European Union
JHA COUNSELLORS Meeting n°245876 Justus Lipsius h 10:00 Room 35.6
Political and Security Committee (PSC) Meeting n°243220 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.6

09th March

European Parliament
Plenary session in Strasbourg : 09:00 – 12:50 KEY DEBATE: Preparation of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 March 2016 and outcome of the EU-Turkey summit
13:00 – 14:30 (VOTES followed by explanations of votes): Reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels; Trade diversion into the European Union of certain key medicines; EU-Andorra agreement on the automatic exchange of financial account information; Appointment of a new Executive Director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA); Procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings; Guidelines for the 2017 Budget – Section III; Interinstitutional agreement on Better law-making; Tobacco agreement (PMI agreement)
15:00 – 23:00 Debates: The current situation in the European Union; Situation in Eritrea; 2015 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; 2015 Report on Montenegro; Joint debate – Veterinary medicinal products; Veterinary medicinal products; Authorisation and supervision of veterinary medicinal products; Thalidomide; International protection of whistle-blowers.
The President’s diary Strasbourg: h9:00 Chairing of the Plenary: Preparation of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 March 2016 – h12:55 Official welcome of Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden – Louise Weiss building, Protocol entrance – h13:00 Meeting with Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden – Louise Weiss building, 6th floor, Salon d´honneur – h14:40 LEX signing – Louise Weiss building, Floor 0, Protocol Room H060- h15:00 Chairing of the plenary: debate with Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden- 16:30 Press point with Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden – Louise Weiss building, official backdrop area- h17:30 EP-Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly Union for Mediterranean.

Council of the European Union
Coreper I Meeting n°243223 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.7
Coreper II Meeting n°243222 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 50.6
JHA COUNSELLORS Meeting n°246457 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 35.6
Political and Security Committee (PSC) Meeting n°243221 Justus Lipsius h10:00 Room 35.4

10th March

European Parliament
Plenary session in Strasbourg 08:30 – 11:50 Debates: Zika virus outbreak; Banking Union – Annual report 2015; Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Rule 135): Freedom of expression in Kazakhstan; Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni; Democratic Republic of the Congo
12:00 – 14:00 VOTES followed by explanations of votes: Motions for resolutions concerning debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Rule 135); Veterinary medicinal products; Authorisation and supervision of veterinary medicinal products; Towards a thriving data-driven economy; Situation in Eritrea; 2015 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; 2015 Report on Montenegro;Banking Union – Annual report 2015.
15:00 – 16:00 Debates: Price crisis in Europe’s pig meat sector.
The President’s diary Strasbourg/ Wittlich: h10:00 Conference of Presidents – 18:30 Keynote speech at the ceremony of the Georg-Meistermann-Prize, in honour of Herta Müller – Eventum, Brautweg 5, Wittlich

Council of the European Union
Justice and Home Affairs Council, Council of the European Union Meeting n°3455 Brussels

Court of Justice of the European Union
09:30 Opinion C-12/15 Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Universal Music International Holding – Court of Justice – Second Chamber – Courtroom II – Level 8
09:30 Judgment C-94/14 Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Flight Refund – Court of Justice -Second Chamber – Courtroom II – Level 8
09:30 Hearing C-195/15 – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Mulhaupt (faillite SCI Senior Home) – Court of Justice – Fifth Chamber -Courtroom I – Level 8

11th March

Council of the European Union
Justice and Home Affairs Council, Council of the European Union Meeting n°3455 Brussels

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FREE NEWS 4TH-5TH MARCH

Justice and Home Affairs: EU unveils plan to restore Schengen by the end of 2016 (EurActiv)
The EU on Friday (4 March) unveiled a “roadmap” to end border controls imposed by member states because of the migrant crisis and restore by the year’s end the Schengen passport-free travel area.Brussels has called for the creation of a European Union border and coastguard force by the summer and help for Greece to strengthen its external border, the main point of entry for refugees and migrants to Europe.“The objective would be to lift all internal border controls by December, so that there can be a return to a normally functioning Schengen area by the end of 2016,” the European Commission said in a statement […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Schengen reloaded: Commission’s roadmap for a return to freedom of circulation (New Europe)
The European Commission hit today the reset button on Schengen and came up with a totally refurbished roadmap called: “Back to Schengen”, meant give a new life into the functioning of the Schengen Area. By the end of the year, all internal border controls will have to be scrapped, total freedom of circulation reestablished inside the Schengen area, and control at the external borders reinforced, especially with the help of Turkey, which will be rewarded financially.Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “With this roadmap, we are presenting the next steps that we must take together to restore a normal functioning Schengen Area as soon as possible, and this requires taking a number of important actions. First, all Member States need to apply the rules […]”

Justice and Home Affairs:UN criticises EU’s anti-migrant rhetoric (EuObserver)
A UN official said Friday (4 March) that the overwhelming majority of people coming to Europe are not economic migrants, but people seeking refuge from war. He also criticised EU leaders for telling migrants not to come to Europe. “The inconvenient truth is that people are still coming to Europe, because the wars are still ongoing,” Vincent Cochetel, the director of the Europe branch of the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, told journalists […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Transparency Register opens up to stakeholder review, leaving lobbyists anxious (NewEurope)
With the EU’s Transparency Register receiving both praise and criticism, the European Commission opened up a 3 month public consultation, aiming to gather views on the functioning of the current Transparency Register and to receive input for the design of the future mandatory regime of registration, as this may allow interest representatives more equal and harmonised access the European Institutions. The move by the European Commission has already sparked great interest in the consultancy and interest-representation behemoths of Brussels […]

Global Europe: Don’t expect big decisions from EU-Turkey summit, say diplomats (EurActiv)
EXCLUSIVE / No official decision is expected to be made during an EU-Turkey summit on Monday (7 March) dedicated to the refugee crisis, due to the upcoming German state elections, diplomats told EurActiv Greece. On 13 March, Germany will hold an election in three of Germany’s 16 regions: Saxony-Anhalt, Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg.
The vote is seen as a first electoral test of Merkel’s immigration policies, as it is expected to measure the rate of confidence in her CDU party and the upsurge of anti-immigration sentiment in German society. Germany prefers that the EU-Turkey summit remains low-profile and that it doesn’t impact on the vote, EurActiv was told. Consequently the summit of EU leaders with Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoğlu will be an informal meeting, where “no official decision is expected to be made” and no summit conclusions will be adopted […]

Justice and Home Affairs: L’arrivée du « PNR », le fichier européen sur les passagers aériens, encore retardée (LeMonde)
On croyait l’affaire réglée après un vote favorable, en décembre 2015, de la commission des libertés civiles du Parlement européen : à l’issue d’années de discussion, le projet de fichier de renseignements sur les passagers aériens (Passenger Name Record, « PNR ») semblait en voie d’adoption. A la grande satisfaction des autorités françaises et du ministre de l’intérieur, Bernard Cazeneuve, qui, dans la foulée des attentats du 13 novembre, avaient souligné l’utilité de cet outil pour mieux lutter contre le terrorisme. Le premier ministre, Manuel Valls, avait de son côté envoyé une lettre au Groupe de l’alliance progressiste des socialistes et démocrates au Parlement européen (S&D) pour lui demander de taire son opposition à ce texte, évoqué depuis 2007 et traduit, en 2011, dans un texte controversé de la Commission […]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU wants internal border controls lifted by December (EuObserver)
The European Commission wants to lift all internal border controls by the end of the year.
The plan is part of a broader effort to keep the passport-free Schengen zone from unraveling after eight EU states imposed checks amid a large inflow of migrants and asylum seekers […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Tusk warns refugees away from Europe (EurActiv)
Speaking in Athens on Thursday (3 March), Council President Donald made a pathetic appeal to ‘economic’ migrants not to come to Europe. Tusk visited Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and is in Turkey today, in preparation for the EU-Turkey summit to be held in Brussels on Monday (7 March).Turkey and Greece are key countries in the context of the unprecedented migrant crisis, as the vast majority of incoming refugees, most of whom do not qualify for asylum, cross from Turkey to the Greek islands, in the Aegean Sea. After talks in Athens with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Tusk told economic migrants it was pointless to try to reach the European Union, which is struggling maintain its prized Schengen passport-free travel area in the face of the surge of people moving across the bloc’s borders […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Commission plans last-gasp attempt to save Schengen (EurActiv)
The European Union will unveil on Friday (4 March) a “roadmap” to restore by November the Schengen passport-free travel area, which is nearing collapse because of the migration crisis, sources said. The plan, a draft of which has been seen by AFP, includes quickly creating an EU coast guard system and strengthening Greece’s external border, the main point of entry for refugees and migrants to Europe. After nearly two decades of European free travel, the 26-country Schengen area is tottering as several member states unilaterally reintroduce border controls to stop migrants passing from Greece to richer northern European countries. “We will adopt tomorrow a roadmap on how to restore a fully functioning Schengen system,” a source in the European Commission told AFP […]

Migration: 1.2 million first time asylum seekers sought protection in the EU (NewEurope)
1,255,600 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the EU countries in 2015, according to today’s figure by Eurostat. The EU statistics agency pointed out that the number of the asylum seekers was more than double compared with 2014. According to Eurostat, most of the asylum seekers were from the war-torn countries of Syria and Iraq, while hundreds of thousands were from Afghanistan who according to many EU governments should not be entitled for asylum as they are now considered economic migrants. Eurostat reported that the number of Syrians seeking international protection in the EU has doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year to reach 362,800, while the number of Afghans has almost quadrupled to 178,200 and that of Iraqis has multiplied by 7 to 121,500 […]

Refugee Crisis: France struggling to find refugees to relocate as hotspots fail (EurActiv)
France has only relocated 284 refugees from Greece and Italy, despite having housing for 5,200 people ready. It’s a paradox that epitomises the failure of the EU’s refugee hotspots. EurActiv France reports.The establishment of an organised migration route within the European Union is still struggling to get off the ground. France provides a perfect illustration of the problems the plan faces. Several months after the EU’s decision to create refugee hotspots in Greece and Italy, only a very small number of those arriving in these countries have been processed under the European relocation system, according to Kléber Arhoul, a prefect in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and France’s national coordinator for the hosting of refugees […]

Refugee Crisis: Idomeni: Uncertainty over the distribution of the EU refugee aid, humanitarian crisis grows larger (NewEurope)
Uncertainty remains over how the €700 million of refugee aid should be distributed to have the best results for the tens of thousands of people who are now trapped at the Greek village of Idomeni which is located at the Greece-FYROM borders. Greek news agency, ANA-MPA, reported that Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid, said that the EU’s executive body will be working closely with the Greek government to pinpoint the needs of refugees and begin providing assistance immediately, either in kind or through the use of coupons distributed by Greek banks. British dailies, The Daily Mail, Express and the Telegraph reported that the European Commission is also considering giving some of the money directly to the refugees. The Telegraph reported that this policy has been previously used in Somalia and Kosovo, but EU policy papers warn the cash can trigger inflation on the local market, fuel corruption or be stolen if mismanaged […]

Refugee Crisis: Tusk: Shipping back irregular migrants will help in the fight against smugglers (NewEurope)
The establishment of a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece, would effectively break the business model of the smugglers, President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk said in a press conference in Turkey.
On Thursday, Tusk met with Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey to discuss about the growing refugee crisis. He welcomed all the Turkish efforts to limit the refugee influx in the EU but he said that he and Davutoglu agreed “that the refugee flows still remain far too high and that further action is needed.”
“It is for Turkey to decide how best to achieve such a reduction…the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece […]

Refugee Crisis: Tsipras, Tusk discuss refugee crisis (NewEurope)
On March 3, European Union Council President Donald Tusk visited Athens, saying the situation along the Western Balkan migration route is “really dramatic, and so we must act with determination to improve it”. Tusk met with Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who called for sanctions on EU states that refuse to take in their share of the incoming refugees, and demanded that the practically dormant procedure for relocating refugees stranded in Greece to other members of the bloc should be drastically accelerated. After his meeting with Tusk, Tsipras promised “dignified” living conditions for the more than 25,000 people — mostly bona fide refugees — trapped in Greece. But he insisted that the solution can only be temporary, and Greece will accept no more than its fair share of permanently resident refugees, AP reported […]

UK &EU: UK referendum: no panic – better reforming the EU
(NewEurope)
The ramifications of the UK referendum cannot be underestimated. We can all agree that a Brexit could have an enormous impact on the European Union. Since Great Britain has been such a powerful EU member, seeing them leave would mean a big switch in policy priorities. It is no doubt that as a Lithuanian who has lived half of his life in Australia, I have lots of sympathy for how the British value economic freedoms, respect individual initiative and participate actively in ensuring mechanisms for common security. Therefore I find lots of common understanding in a long- lasting relationship between Lithuania and Britain, and an even longer cooperation between Britain and the EU […]

 

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FREE NEWS 02TH-03TH MARCH

Justice and Home Affairs: New Emergency Assistance instrument to provide €700 million on refugee crisis; first 308 returns to Turkey confirmed (NewEurope) A brand new funding instrument was proposed by the European Commission in response to the refugee crisis as flows continue and FYROM border with Greece is de facto closed. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management presented the proposal earlier today. The legislation proposal provides for an initial budget of €700 million from 2016-2018 and is expected to be accepted “immediately” by the European Council with a qualified majority of Member States voting in favour, and with European Parliament playing a role only in terms of amending the budget […]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU to launch humanitarian aid plan within its own borders (EurActiv) EXCLUSIVE / The European Commission is set to adopt today (2 March) a new plan aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to refugees inside the European Union, according to a draft proposal seen by EurActiv Greece.The Commission will propose a regulation on the provision of emergency aid within the EU’s borders, breaking with normal rules, which restrict humanitarian aid to overseas countries only.The lack of cooperation among member states has prompted the executive to find creative ways of helping EU countries that are being severely hit by the refugee crisis.“For the first time we mobilise resources, legislation and money that will enable Europe to act and within the EU, not only in crises in the Third World,” Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told a European Parliament gathering yesterday (1 March) […]

Migration: EU leaders continue war of words on refugees (EuObserver)              EU leaders will hold a summit with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday (7 March), before an informal meeting. They will discuss how to stem the flow of refugees coming from Turkey to Europe, organise the EU response to the crisis and try to ensure that EU rules and the free-movement Schengen area are not shattered by uncoordinated and contradictory policies. The talks will take place just as the European Commission is preparing an unprecedented humanitarian plan for EU countries, to help them cope with the huge numbers of refugees […]

Migration: Thirty times more refugees and migrants arrive in Greece (NewEurope) Thirty times more, refugees and migrants arrived in Greece during the period between January and February 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported today, that during 1 January – 25 February, 120,369 migrants and refugees chose the so-called Eastern Mediterranean route to enter the EU, while in 2015 the number of the people who entered Greece was recorded at 3,952.Turkish daily, Hurriyet, reported that Frontex Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri, admitted that the ongoing efforts to limit the influx of migrants and refugees from Turkey to Greece didn’t result in reducing the influx[…]

Migration: EU unveils €700m refugee fund with Greece in mind (EuObserver)The European Commission unveiled Wednesday (2 March) plans for an emergency fund of €700 million over the next three years to help EU countries struggling with the huge influx of refugees. While the EU has been providing humanitarian assistance to countries outside the bloc for decades, this is the first time the EU will do the same for its own members. “The fund will reduce humanitarian suffering of refugees in Europe,” commissioner for aid Christos Stylianides told journalists. He said there’s no “magic formula” for the crisis, but said the new fund “will help to ensure that we can provide a European solution […]”

Refugee Crisis: Juncker on refugee crisis: “It was foreseen that this would lead to a huge humanitarian crisis in Greece” (NewEurope) “We are not only concerned, but really worried about what is happening there. It was foreseen that it would lead to a huge humanitarian crisis in Greece”, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said about the humanitarian situation created on the Greece – FYROM border area at the crossing-point of Idomeni.  Juncker has paid tribute to Norway’s response on refugee crisis during a joint press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Brussels. “Norway is ready to take part in the European relocation program, and I would strongly recommend to the member states of the EU to follow that example”, added Juncker, reminding the “huge” effort of Norway in London’s Syria conference last month […]

Refugee Crisis: Managing the Refugee Crisis: Stepping up return procedures to Turkey (EC Press Release) The Commission is today able to confirm that Greece is in the process of returning 308 irregular migrants to Turkey. The Commission is today able to confirm that Greece is in the process of returning 308 irregular migrants to Turkey. The European Union is stepping up its efforts to ensure those who do not qualify for international protection in Europe will be quickly and effectively returned to their countries of origin or transit. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Under the EU-Turkey joint action plan we agreed to accelerate return and readmission procedures with Turkey. The European Commission has reinforced its support for cooperation on return between EU Member States and Turkey and today’s transfers of returnees from Greece to Turkey show that our efforts are starting to bear fruit. If we want to address the challenges of the refugee crisis successfully we need to get back to an orderly management of the migration flows: We have to make sure that those who are in need of protection will receive it, but it has to be clear as well that those who have no right to stay in the EU will be quickly and effectively returned […]”

Global Europe: Ankara denies reports of blocking NATO ships entering its water borders (NewEurope) A Turkish official rejected the accuracy of an AFP news agency report which indicated that the Turkish government is not allowing NATO ships to enter its water borders despite the agreement for common operations against the human traffickers. Turkish daily, Hurriyet reported today that Ankara described the AFP report as “fabricated” saying that it is not true that NATO vessels are unable to start their operations because the Turkish government doesn’t permit them to enter the Turkish waters. “We don’t feel it necessary to respond to the comments, the source (an unnamed diplomatic source) of which we do not know and which are obviously fabricated and most probably aimed at creating provocation,” Turkish officials told Hurriyet Daily News on March 2. “Work is going on to have NATO activity conducted as planned,” the official said […]

Foreign Affairs: Russia ‘weaponising’ refugees against EU (EuObserver) Russia is “weaponising migration” as part of a broader campaign to extend its influence in Europe, Nato’s military chief has said, echoing German and Turkish concern. Philip Breedlove, a US general who commands Nato forces forces in Europe, spoke out on Tuesday (1 March) in a hearing with the Senate’s armed services committee in Washington. “Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponising migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve,” he said, referring to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader and Russian ally […]

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FREE NEWS 29TH FEBRUARY-01TH MARCH

Justice and Home Affairs: Schengen: Austria defies Brussels (NewEurope)
Athens recalled its ambassador to Vienna on Thursday and rejected a request for a visit by Austria’s Interior Minister on Friday, February 26.  The divide between Austria and Greece seems for the moment unbridgeable. The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning {Austrian} “unilateral initiatives to resolve the refugee (crisis) and violations of international law and the European acquis by EU member states could Scundermine the foundations and the process of European unification,” it said. The diplomatic escalation between Athens and Vienna began on Tuesday, with Athens protesting a regional conference called for Wednesday in Vienna in which Greece was not invited. In Vienna, Austria and nine Western Balkan states met on Wednesday and unilaterally decided to contain migrant flows in Greece, by placing arbitrary prohibitions beginning from Afghan refugees and scaling up document controls for Syrians and Iraqis […]

Justice and Home Affairs:MEPs question liability in EU border guard proposal (EuObserver)
MEPs on Monday (29 February) quizzed the EU Commission on the proposed European Border and Coast Guard that aims help member states with protecting external borders of the bloc, even if the member state does not agree with the intervention.
The proposal by the commission put forward last December attempts to tackle the problem of member states failing to protect the external borders of the EU.
Under the proposal, a beefed-up Frontex, the EU’s border agency, pooling in national capabilities would be able to intervene in a member state under disproportionate pressure even against that country’s will, if the passport-free Schengen area is at risk […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Telegraph: German government considers closing borders (NewEurope)
The German government is considering closing its borders to asylum-seekers in an attempt to pressure the rest of the EU countries to take action and deal with the European refugee crisis, according to a report by the British daily, The Telegraph.
According to the British daily, sources close to German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere told to German weekly newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, that the Minister ordered officials to prepare plans on closing down the German borders to the people in need. “For de Maiziere, the time of waving the refugees through is over,” they said […]

Justice and Home Affairs:Peruvians all set for visa-free Schengen travel (EurActiv)
Peru’s migration authority has started issuing its first biometric passports that will allow its citizens to undertake short-term visa-free travel within the Schengen area.
The foreign ministry was positive about the development, commenting that it “places Peru in a leading position in terms of the global freedom of movement of people”.
Older versions of the passports will continue to be issued until 7 July, after which only the biometric document will be available. There was huge demand for the new passports, as all 5,000 available appointments with migration authorities were snapped up within 24 hours. As a result, 15,000 more passports can be applied for between 3 and 7 July […]

Justice and Home Affairs:Chaos and clashes with police at the Greece-FYROM borders (NewEurope)
Close to 7,000 refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, who are stuck at the Greek borders with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) demonstrated against the closure of the borders decided by FYROM authorities.
The demonstrators broke down a barbed wire fence and the FYROM border police started to throw teargas at the Greek territory to disperse the crowd and prevent the people in need from entering the forbidden territory. During the weekend, and before Monday’s clashes, there were numerous protests with the refugees asking the opening of the borders. However, as the peaceful demonstrations didn’t bring any result, Monday’s demonstration got more intense […]

Refugee Crisis: Refugees tear-gassed in France and Greece (EurActiv)
Refugees in France’s ‘Jungle’ camp, and on the Greece-Macedonian border, were tear-gassed by border police today (29 February), a week before EU leaders meet to discuss the migration crisis. French authorities began dismantling half of the camp in the northern port city of Calais on Monday, a week before EU leader meet with Turkey in Brussels to discuss their response to the crisis that has seen multiple member states reinstate border controls in the passport free Schengen area.
Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees on Monday tried to break through a border fence into Macedonia from Greece, where more than 6,000 people are stranded […]

Refugee Crisis:Germany urges North Africa states to speed up repatriations (NewEurope)
German authorities are intensifying their efforts to persuade the North Africa States to speed up the repatriation of the rejected asylum seekers.
German public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, reported that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is to visit Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia aiming to convince the national authorities to better cooperate with Germany and quickly accept their returned citizens. “Our goal is to make the (repatriation) procedures more efficient and faster,” de Maiziere said ahead of his departure for Morocco on Sunday […]

Migration:Hungary’s PM vows to resist EU pressure to take in more migrants (NewEurope)
Warning that more migrants in the country will bring crime, terrorism and other problems, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vowed to resist European Union pressure to take in more migrants. He also criticised Brussels’ failure to address the migrant crisis. As reported by the Reuters news agency, Orban has long been known for his fiery right-wing rhetoric, but in his annual state of the nation address on February 28 he struck a particularly harsh tone toward the refugees and Brussels over its attempts to impose migrant quotas on member states […]

Data Protection: Commission presents EU-US Privacy Shield (NewEurope)
The European Commission presented the anticipated EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, which aims to protect the personal data of the European citizens from any monitoring activities performed by the US government and the US based firms.
The European Commission said that the Privacy Shield draft agreement, reflects the requirements set by the European Court of Justice in its ruling from 6 October 2015. Then the EU court decided that the previous “Safe Harbor” agreement, which regulated the data transfers between the EU and the US didn’t guarantee the protection of the European citizens from being spied by US agencies […]

Migration:Migrant tensions flare at Macedonian-Greek border (EuObserver)
Macedonian police used stun grenades and tear gas to push back hundreds of frustrated Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers stuck on the Greek side of the border, after they tried to force their way across the border into Macedonia on Monday (29 February).
Thousands are stuck on the Greek side after Austria and Balkan countries restricted border crossings, with people forced out of the Idomeni refugee cap onto surrounding fields.  About 6,500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees are camped out around Idomeni, with another 500 moved to a make-shift camp nearby […]

Migration: Orban: EU leaders lack will to stop migrants (EuObserver)
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said Sunday (28 February) EU leaders had no will to get a grip on the migration crisis, and vowed to fight pressure from Brussels to take in more refugees.  In a “state of the nation” speech, Orban told supporters he did not blame the migrants for only doing “what they think is best for them” by coming to Europe, but European leaders for failing to come up with a plan to reverse the tide of people.  “Europe’s future is endangered primarily not by those who want to come here, but by those political, economic and intellectual leaders who are trying to transform Europe in opposition to the European people,” Orban said. “Migration can be stopped,” Orban said, arguing that Europe “has the technological, strategic and economic might to defend itself”.
“It is enough of a problem that Brussels cannot organise Europe’s defence, but the bigger trouble is that it lacks the will to do so,” he told his supporters in a traditionally blunt speech […]

UK and Europe: Brexit poll shows desire to keep UK in Union (NewEurope)
The concessions recently gained by the United Kingdom, giving the country a special status in the European Union, unleashed a heated public debate in Europe, both in political circles and among the society at large. Talking to European citizens in Brussels, New Europe found a variety of opinions about the “Brexit deal”, which was reached on Friday 19 February at the EU Summit, and about the prospect of the UK leaving the Union. Most people interviewed believed the deal gives the UK an unfair advantage over other European member states, as they fear it would accelerate EU disintegration. A Belgian scientific researcher told New Europe: “If Britain wants to play different they should leave, the same rules have to apply to everyone”. Another respondent, a French government employee, went even further in his assessment, saying that the Brexit deal is “a dangerous attack on the core idea of the EU and it shows the regression of Europe” […]

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