[From the ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 29 June 2012]
On Tuesday 26 June, the Greens and the European Free Alliance organised a conference in the European Parliament on border surveillance, Frontex and migration control where developments on EUROSUR were discussed by different stakeholders. EUROSUR is a proposal, tabled and developed by the European Commission since 2008, which according to the promoters of the initiative aims to enable the EU to prevent irregular border crossings and cross-border crime and reduce the number of migrants losing their lives at sea by surveillance at the EU’s external borders.
Ska Keller, MEP and shadow rapporteur on EUROSUR, stated "EUROSUR amounts to ’Fortress 2.0’, using new technologies such as drones to close off Europe’s borders. This skewed approach to immigration misses the point and it represents cynicism to claim that EUROSUR will actually help the boatloads of migrants that risk their lives to leave persecution or destitution. There is not any provision in the proposal on how to save lives at sea."
Via national coordination centres, Member States will have access to common surveillance data and share information on irregular border crossings, cross-border crime as well as on own operations and patrols. Frontex will be responsible for the surveillance of the pre-frontier area, which includes the Mediterranean Sea as well as ports and the coast of North African countries using drones. Regional networks of EU Member States with neighbouring third countries will be a part of EUROSUR in order to curb irregular migration and cross-border crime.
The Greens have already expressed concerns about the proposals on EUROSUR and fears the EU risks breaching its human rights obligations by externalising its borders to Africa. International principles such as the right to leave a country, the right to claim asylum and the principle of non-refoulement may not be guaranteed if refugees and migrants are intercepted and sent back to North Africa. Furthermore, while the proposal argues that the initiative aims at reducing the numbers of migrants losing their lives at sea, there is no obligation for Member States to improve cooperation of their border control authorities with those responsible for search and rescue at sea.
For further information:
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin 1 June 2012, Heinrich Böll Stiftung assesses the costs and the impact on fundamental rights of the EU border surveillance Initiatives
- Frankfurter Rundshau, Intelligent and expensive borders (in German)
- Europolitics, EUROSUR: Curtailing migrants’ rights or saving lives?
- Public Service Europe, The EU wants to protect Schengen with drones
- Ska Keller, LIBE Flash: Crucial Questions on Eurosur