Free News 14th-16th December

Justice and Home Affairs : Brussels unveils controversial plan for EU border force (EurActiv)                                                                                                                           The European Commission unveiled plans Tuesday (15 December) for a new border and coastguard force that can intervene even without the host country’s consent, saying it had to restore security threatened by the migration crisis. The new agency will have a quick reaction force of 1,500 guards and a “right to intervene” in European Union nations that are either overwhelmed or are deemed to be failing to secure their frontiers. The European Union will nearly treble its spending on frontier defence, according to the Commission proposal, unveiled yesterday.With one million mainly Syrian refugees and refugees set to arrive in Europe this year, the record influx has raised fears for the future of the Schengen passport-free zone, while the Paris attacks have brought the security aspect under the spotlight […]

Justice and Home Affairs: A European Border and Coast Guard to protect Europe’s External Borders (EC Press Release)
The European Commission is today adopting an important set of measures to manage the EU’s external borders and protect our Schengen area without internal borders. Today’s proposals will help to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union, and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons. The Commission is proposing to establish a European Border and Coast Guard to ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders. To further increase security for Europe’s citizens, the Commission is also proposing to introduce systematic checks against relevant databases for all people entering or exiting the Schengen area. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “In an area of free movement without internal borders, managing Europe’s external borders must be a shared responsibility. The crisis has exposed clear weaknesses and gaps in existing mechanisms aimed at making sure that EU standards are upheld. Therefore, it is now time to move to a truly integrated system of border management. The European Border and Coast Guard will bring together a reinforced Agency, with the ability to draw on a reserve pool of people and equipment, and the Member States’ authorities, who will continue to exercise day-to-day border management […]

Justice and Home Affairs: European Agenda on Migration: Securing Europe’s External Borders (EC Press Release)                                                                                     What does today’s Borders Package include? The Commission has presented an ambitious set of measures aimed at securing the EU’s borders, managing migration more effectively and improving the internal security of the European Union, while safeguarding the principle of free movement of persons. The package includes: A Regulation establishing a European Border and Coast Guard- A targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code – A Regulation on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals – A revised EUROSUR Handbook – The 8th bi-annual report on the Schengen area […]

Refugees Crisis: Commission presents Recommendation for a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme with Turkey for refugees from Syria (EC Press Release)                                                                                                                                Ahead of the European Council, the European Commission has today presented a Recommendation for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme to create a system of solidarity and responsibility sharing with Turkey for the protection of persons displaced by the conflict in Syria to Turkey. The scheme should be flexible to take into account the sustainable reduction of numbers of persons irregularly crossing the border from Turkey into the European Union as a result of Turkey’s actions. Member States are invited to participate in the scheme on a voluntary basis taking into account their capacities. The scheme presented today will only apply to persons who have been registered by Turkish authorities before the EU-Turkey meeting on 29 November. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Being a great continent comes with great responsibilities […]

Migration: Merkel: Germany needs to reduce number of refugees (EuObserver)                                                                                                                             German chancellor Angela Merkel tried on Monday (14 December) to maintain her authority and reconcile her migration policy with her own party’s demands for change.In a speech to the Christian-Democrat Union’s (CDU) congress in Karlsruhe, she said she wants to “noticeably reduce the number of refugees” coming to Germany, but she stopped short from mentioning an “upper limit” on the number of migrants.”Even a strong country like Germany is in the long term overstrained by such a large number of refugees,” Merkel said.A curb in Germany’s refugee policy is “in Germany’s and Europe’s interest, and in the interest of refugees,” she added.Her words had been agreed on Sunday ahead of the congress, to avoid a public row between herself and party ranks more hostile to large numbers of refugees being welcomed in Germany […]

Migration: Greece wants migrants to apply for asylum wherever they want (EuObserver)                                                                                                                                   Greece wants to strip point of entry rules in the EU’s crippled Dublin asylum regulation to allow migrants to travel and apply for asylum anywhere they want. The idea was floated in a letter to EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos. Sent over the weekend and signed by both the Greek ministries of migration and of citizen protection, the letter notes “the first entry criterion should be abolished or downgraded.” It says emphasis should be placed on “upgrading the criterions of family reunification and petitioner’s own free will”. Avramopoulos has yet to respond to the letter. But the controversial idea comes on the heels of a broad European Commission assessment on migration in Italy and Greece to be published on Wednesday (15 December) and ahead of an EU summit on the same issue later this week […]

Data Protection: New EU Data protection agreement overhauls rules to protect citizens (NewEurope)                                                                                                    A “strong compromise” on how to ensure a high level of data protection across the EU was agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in their last round of talks on the data protection package on Tuesday.The European Commission put forward its EU Data Protection Reform in 2012 to make Europe fit for the digital age. Importantly, there was agreement in the critical issue of liability, whereby companies that fail to abide by EU data protection rules could be fined up to 4% of their annual revenue. Furthermore, a limit will be set as to the minimum age of the users whose data companies including social media like facebook will be allowed to process. This has been set at 16 years old, with  member states being allowed to make this 13 years of age at lowest […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Commission seeks mandatory ID checks on all EU nationals (EuObserver)                                                                                                    Biometric data of all EU nationals will be cross-checked with police and security databases upon entering or exiting the EU in a wider effort to crack down on people who travel to Syria and fight alongside jihadists. The European Commission issued the proposal on Wednesday (15 December) as part of a larger package on borders as the EU attempts to guarantee the future of the passport-free Schengen zone […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Frontex cannot say if Turkey stemmed refugee flow (EurActiv)                                                                                                                                       EU leaders will meet tomorrow (17 December) for a 2-day summit with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and make further overtures to his country. However, at this stage it is impossible to say if Turkey’s commitment to halt the influx of refugees has made a difference. EurActiv asked Frontex, the European agency for operational cooperation at the external borders of the EU, if they had been able to measure any difference in the arrival of migrants from Turkish territory to the Greek islands since the 29 November EU-Turkey summit. At the summit, EU leaders and Davutoğlu agreed on a deal to stem the flow of refugees to Europe, coupled with an unfreezing of accession negotiations, and an initial €3 billion assistance package […]

Enlargement: EU warms to Turkey, Serbia membership bids (EurActiv)          The European Union revived Turkey’s membership bid on Monday (14 Dcember) and opened accession talks with Serbia, showing how a migration crisis and Russia’s presence in the Balkans has prompted the EU to rethink plans to stop expanding. More than a year after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Brussels needed a pause in its policy of admitting new members, events have driven officials to revive membership talks to seek influence and stability abroad. While neither Turkey nor Serbia are likely to join the world’s largest trading bloc in the near future, the EU hopes that formal negotiations on different areas of its “chapters” or rules, will help tackle multiple crises on its borders[…]

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