The ECRE Weekly Bulletin provides information about the latest European developments in the areas of asylum and refugee protection.ECRE is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.If you would like to know more about ECRE’s advocacy work, policy positions, press releases and projects, please visit our website at, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

10 June 2016
Do you like receiving this newsletter? You can support ECRE’s work with a donation.






European Commission presents Action Plan on Integration

In a Communication released on 7 June 2016, the European Commission presented its Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals. As stated in the Communication, specific attention should be paid to newly-arrived refugees, who often face specific problems, such as vulnerability resulting from traumas, lack of documentation to prove their qualifications, inactivity prior to and during the asylum procedure, but also cultural and language barriers.

Providing integration support in the pre-arrival stage could be a measure specifically beneficial for refugees waiting to be resettled to European countries: acquiring knowledge about culture and traditions prior to the arrival would speed up the integration process in the new host societies. Integration measures during pre-arrival stage could include language and job-related training, but also the provision of country-specific information with a focus on cultural traditions and labour market orientation.

The Commission repeatedly mentions the fact that refugees have a positive impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) of individual Member States and the EU as a whole, provided that appropriate integration policies are put in place, an analysis also made by Philippe Lagrain. Countries welcoming a significant amount of refugees could easily foresee a rise in their GDP: for example, Germany could witness an increase of 0.4%-0.8% of its GDP by 2017. The Commission also issued a Staff Working Document, which clarifies that the macroeconomic effect of the arrival of refugees depends on how well and quickly they are integrated into labour markets.

Even though integration is primarily a competence for the individual Member States, the European Union tries to create incentives and offer support for Member States to further develop and strengthen their national integration policies.

The slow unfolding of the EU-Turkey deal?

At least 35 asylum seekers who applied for protection in Greece, had their claims rejected on admissibility grounds and appealed the decision, received a positive outcome of their appeal. Their applications had been rejected in first instance on the grounds that Turkey is a Safe Third Country which can offer adequate protection to refugees. 

The Athens Appeals Committee ruled instead that Turkey does not afford refugees the full protection required under the Refugee Convention and that the country does not comply with the principle of non-refoulement. The appeal decision did not consider the merits of the claim, but only the admissibility of the application in relation to the correct application of the Safe Third Country concept. 

The first decision, handed on 20 May 2016, was hailed by several human rights organisation as proof that the EU-Turkey deal is unworkable and should cease to exist. “This decision goes to the heart of why the EU-Turkey deal was so deeply flawed to begin with,” Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International stated. A European Commission spokesperson, however, defended the validity of the EU-Turkey agreement, stating that these decisions only mean that there would be no blanket or automatic returns of people to Turkey.

The past week was also marked by the first case related to the EU-Turkey deal to reach the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Three Greek lawyers cooperating with ECRE members Pro Asyl and the Greek Council for Refugees applied for interim suspensive measures at the ECtHR to stop the deportation to Turkey of a Syrian man persecuted by ISIS.

The asylum seeker was sought by ISIS in Turkey who demanded that he return to Syria to work for oil production in an ISIS-controlled area. He was at particular risk also because of his homosexuality. His application was deemed inadmissible but his claim was not examined on the merits. The Appeals Committee ruled in his case that it was safe for him to return to Turkey because he had lived there for several years. The lawyers then referred his case to the European Court of Human Rights to stop the deportation, which they believe would put the asylum seeker and his fundamental rights at serious risk.  

Tragic series of shipwrecks leave thousands dead

Over the last two weeks, a tragic series of shipwrecks has claimed the lives of at least 1,440 people, according to the incidents reported by IOM Missing Migrants. In the latest of the shipwrecks, at least 320 are feared dead or missing while trying to reach the Greek island of Crete.

While the number of arrivals are almost at the same level as last year, the number of deaths has soared. The chances of dying at sea crossing through the Central Mediterranean are now of 1 in 23, as stated by UNHCR. “Analysis by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that during the week of May 23 to May 30, an average of five refugees drowned per hour as they tried to flee to Europe,” reported Al Jazeera.

As ECRE stated in numerous occasions, these deaths are not only tragically predictable, but can be avoided. ECRE reiterates its calls for the opening of safe and legal channels to the EU, in the form of humanitarian visas, faster and less cumbersome family reunification policies and stronger commitments in terms of resettlement which do not depend on people risking their lives at sea. 

As long as there will be people whose best choice is to take a leaky boat to perceived safety, there will be smugglers providing a service, which will be more dangerous, costly and inhumane. Preventing people from entering the EU by making agreements such as the EU-Turkey deal or replicating it with other countries, will only make smugglers’ businesses thrive.

For further information:


Switzerland: Asylum reform approved by referendum

On 5 June 2016, a Swiss referendum approved the amendment of the Asylum Act with a view to a substantial restructuring of the asylum system. The reform will introduce a country-wide accelerated procedure, entailing shorter time-limits to complete the examination of asylum claims but also free legal assistance and representation throughout the process.

The Swiss Refugee Council, an ECRE member, stresses the need to link accelerated procedures with more rapid integration of asylum seekers in host communities, highlighting that “Switzerland is in urgent need of an investment in integration.” To that end, language courses and vocational training should be provided to asylum seekers from the start of the procedure.

For further information: This article originally appeared in the Asylum Information Database (AIDA).


CJEU judgments confirm that asylum seekers have right to appeal the reasons for a Dublin transfer

On Tuesday 7 May 2016, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) delivered judgments on the Ghezelbash and the Karim cases. These cases relate to the scope of the right to an effective remedy under the Dublin III Regulation. In both cases, the Court decided that an asylum seeker is entitled to plead, in an appeal against a decision to transfer him, the incorrect application of one of the criteria for determining responsibility for the claim laid down in Charter III of the Dublin Regulation.

The Court followed the opinion of the Advocate General and based its reasoning on the fact that the Dublin III Regulation confers rights on the asylum seekers to be informed on the reasons for a Dublin transfer, and that with these comes the right to appeal these reasons. 

Read a more detailed summary and analysis of both cases on the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.


#ReuniteThem campaign for the young superheroes of Calais

ECRE member France terre d’asile has launched a campaign called #ReunissezLes, #ReuniteThem to raise awareness about the plight of hundreds of unaccompanied children living in Calais. In the campaign, they are portrayed as superheroes on a mission filled with obstacles: reuniting with a family member in the UK. They have come far, survived long and dangerous journeys, crossed several borders, being faced with discrimination and in some cases police violence, they are all now stuck in Calais, alone and facing great dangers, such as exploitation by criminal networks.

According to a recent census carried out by France terre d’asile, the majority of the over 340 unaccompanied children in Calais come from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan and they are mostly between 15 and 17 years old, but the youngest is only 10. Many of them have family in the UK and according to Art. 8 of the Dublin III Regulation, the asylum claim of an unaccompanied child should be examined by the country where a family member resides. 

Through the campaign petition, France terre d’asile is calling on the British and French government to allow the children to reunite with their families legally and safely, according to EU law. The campaign is supported by many organisations in France and the UK, as well as ECRE and many independent individuals.