Connect with us


Fundamental rights at the EU’s southern sea borders: Deficiencies, promising practices and challenges



A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents the results of in-depth research in four EU Member States with southern EU sea borders. It describes the hazardous journey and deaths at sea, discusses current maritime surveillance mechanisms and cooperation with third countries, and details the treatment of migrants when they arrive on shore. A final chapter is devoted to sea operations coordinated by the EU’s border control agency (Frontex), and to EU solidarity mechanisms.

European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström: “I very much welcome FRA’s report on fundamental rights issues at the EU’s southern sea borders. It identifies the difficulties migrants face during their journey and the serious and urgent challenges they come up against after their arrival. The right to life and respect for the principle of non-refoulement are core fundamental rights, and the European Union as well as Member States must do everything they can to ensure these rights are implemented to the full. FRA’s report provides concrete proposals on how this can be achieved.”

While many reports discussing this issue focus on a particular incident at just one border crossing, FRA has collected exhaustive data on the four countries to which the majority of migrant boats arrive (Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta). Sources included border guards, fishermen, and migrants themselves. The large scope of the research and broad range of interview partners enabled FRA to list promising as well as bad practices, and indicate where policymakers need to act in order to increase the fundamental rights protection of migrants when they arrive in the EU.

morten kjaerum, director FRA“The EU and its Member States must ensure that border surveillance and management, while necessary, are not detrimental to the fundamental rights of migrants arriving at our shores,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “There are many reasons for people to venture the journey to Europe. Some are making use of their fundamental right to seek refuge from persecution in their home countries; some are looking for a better life for themselves and their families; and some, particularly women and girls, are being trafficked against their will. But whatever the context of their arrival, we expect migrants entering the EU to be afforded the same rights and treated with the same dignity accorded to any other person.”



There have been considerable changes in the patterns of migration by sea over the last 10 years. Arrivals rose significantly in 2011 following the Arab Spring, before dropping again in 2012:

figure 1







Figure 1: Data trends (2001–2012) for Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta

Note: EU Member State country codes – EL-Greece; ES-Spain; IT-Italy; MT-Malta
Source: National police data (2012)

FRA’s new report makes a total of 50 suggestions, targeted at EU and national policymakers, on means of improving fundamental rights protection at the EU’s sea borders. These include:

·         The EU should develop clear guidance on where to disembark migrants intercepted or rescued at sea, particularly for Frontex-coordinated operations. This guidance must include a ban on the return of migrants to third countries if this could put them in danger of inhuman or degrading treatment.

·         The planned border surveillance platform Eurosur has life-saving potential, as it is likely to be able to provide information on boats or people in grave danger and requiring immediate assistance. This potential must be fully utilised.

·         Practical steps need to be taken by those using the Eurosur system to avoid the unintentional storing and sharing of personal data. An existing safeguard against the sharing of information with third countries, which could expose migrants to the risk of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, must be translated into practice.

·         Frontex has recently taken significant steps towards protecting fundamental rights. However, there are still aspects that remain to be addressed, for example paying greater attention to fundamental rights in the pre-deployment briefings given to officers before each operation.

·         It is important to ensure that practical training for border officers fully integrates fundamental rights issues from the very beginning, particularly the knowledge that returning a person to persecution, torture or other serious harm is prohibited.

·         Fundamental rights expertise should be brought in at key stages of the planning, implementation and evaluation of projects using funds that the EU provides for the management of external borders.

The full report can be downloaded here: Fundamental rights at Europe’s southern sea borders


European Committee of the Regions, local authorities from Alba Iulia and Calea Europeană organise a local dialogue on digitalization and smart city (LIVE, February 20, 11:00)



European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Romanian National Delegation to CoR and CaleaEuropeană.ro organise, with the support of Alba County Council and Alba Iulia City Hall, and in partnership with the European Parliament Office in Romania, a local event designed as a platform of dialogue between local and regional authorities and citizens and focused on a key subject both for local and regional development and for the EU’s capacity to innovate and reduce development gaps through technology and digitalisation.

The event, entitled ”New technologies and digitalisation: Connectivity and smart city opportunities” takes place on Wednesday 20 of February, at the Principia Museum in Alba Iulia, starting at 11:00. The event will be broadcast live on CaleaEuropeană.ro

In dialogue with citizens will engage Robert Negoiță, President of the Romanian National Delegation to the European Committee of the Regions (PES, RO); Ion Dumitrel, President of the Alba County Council, alternate member of the Romanian National Delegation to the European Committee of the Regions (EPP, RO); Mircea Hava, Mayor of Alba Iulia; and Nicolaie Moldovan, City Manager of Alba Iulia.

The debate is part of CoR’s ”Future of Europe” new initiative and aims to pave the way for the CoR’s 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, scheduled for 14-15 of March 2019, in Bucharest, ahead of the European Council Summit in Sibiu on 9 of May 2019 and during Romania’s EU Council Presidency. This local dialogue subscribes also to the awareness campaign for the European elections from 23-26 of May 2019 (, at the 40th anniversary since the first European Parliament elections.

This local dialogue will be held after the #SOTREG 2018, State of the Union: the view of Regions and Cities address, a speech held on October 9th by the President of the European Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz within the European Week of Regions and Cities frame, which has also marked the approval of CoR opinion on the Future of Europe, entitled „Reflecting on Europe: the voice of local and regional authorities to rebuild trust in the European Union”.

”Future of Europe” campaign in a nutshell

In 2016 the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, asked the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) – as the voice of cities and regions – to submit its recommendations on the future of Europe. Subsequently, the CoR launched its “Reflecting on Europe” campaign whereby members held local events with citizens in their regions and cities to hear their views. Now, the opinion and speech mentioned above form the basis of the CoR’s efforts to contribute to the debate on the ”Future of Europe” ahead of the meeting of the EU leaders in Sibiu on 9 May and the European elections on 23-26 May 2019.

The ”Future of Europe” campaign is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) providing a platform for regions, cities and their citizens’ engagement in the debate on the future of Europe.

Over 40.000 citizens in more than 180 local debates organised across Europe already shared their views, concerns and ideas. The CoR is committed to ensuring that the voice of regional and local authorities and their citizens is heard within the EU, in an effort to make the European project more transparent and democratic and develop new forms of participative democracy.

The European Committee of the Regions invite Romanian citizens to share their view on the future of Europe (Fill the survey by clicking the image below)

In the context of the “Reflecting on Europe” initiative, the European Committee of the Regions launched a survey in 2016 on the main issues that people identify in the city or the region they live in. So far, More than 22.000 European citizens have responded to the survey, while more than 1.000 are from Romania.

At both European Union and Romanian level, unemployment, youth policies and mobility and public transport are considered the three main issues at local and regional level.

In Romania, the three mentioned problems have been classified by citizens as followed: 27% of them consider that mobility and public transportation is the main problem at local and regional level, while for 24% the main challenge is represented by youth policies and also, 23% see unemployment as the main issue.

Romanians rely on the European Union and on a local engagement to building the Future of Europe

Asked about the political level they most rely on, Romanian citizens grant a 82% trust rate to the European Union (60%) and to the local level (22%) to identify solutions and to provide them with security and prosperity. In this context, public perception itself favors dialogue based on local engagement and discussion on the European themes for defining the Future of Europe.


Continue Reading

ENGLISH became member of OpenEUDebate, a European network that will be launched in Madrid by academic institutions and experts in EU politics


on became member of OpenEUDebate, a Jean Monnet network of academic institutions (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; the National University of Political and Administrative Studies – SNSPA, Romania;, Institut d’études européennes de l’Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Agenda Pública, Spain), practitioners and experts in EU politics and policies that marks its lauch in Madrid by organizing debates on the future of Europe, on 21-22 January, in the context of the next Elections to the European Parliament, that are expected to be held in 23-26 May 2019.

Foto: OpenEUdebate/ Facebook

The upcoming May 2019 EU elections will determine to a great extent the direction of the European project. The struggle for the soul of Europe is not only between nationalists and pro-Europeans, but also between different European projects with different public policy proposals on issues such as climate change, inequality or migration.

Rather than an abstract debate on Europe per se, citizens need to hear and engage in a conversation on this set of public policy proposals in order to have a meaningful vote.

Tackling issues of EU citizens’ common concerns requires an open public debate, the first round of which, between Spanish MPs and MEPs, will take place on Monday, 21st January 2019, from 19:00 – 21.00 h.

The venue of the event is the office of the European Parliament in Madrid (Paseo de la Castellana 46), and the debate will be livestreamed in Spanish and English.

The event launches the public activities of the Jean Monnet network OpenEUdebate, which will put EU expertise at the service of journalists, civil society and political actors to improve public debates about Europe. OpenEUDebate is not yet another EU discussion outlet from the “Brussels bubble”.

It follows a bottom-up approach to match EU’s policies with politics at the national level. OpenEUDebate will launch an online platform that will connect the debate in the EU institutions and transnational civil society platforms with national publics.

The event on Monday, 21st January, from 19:00 – 21.00 h features a keynote speech by former EU Commissioner Laaszlo Andor on the challenges of the social union and a Eurozone unemployment benefit scheme, and a debate on the future of Europe with MP Melisa Rodríguez (Ciudadanos, ALDE), MEPs Jonás Fernández (Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, PSOE) and Ernest Urtasun (European Greens/European Free Alliance, Catalunya en Comú), and a representative of Partido Popular (European People’s Party). Journalist Claudi Pérez (El País) will moderate the debate. The livestreaming will be available in Spanish and English.

Continue Reading


EPP MEP Ramona Mănescu: “By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong imprint on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens”



“By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong imprint on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens,” wrote MEP Ramona Mănescu in a post on the official Facebook page following her participation the debate on the ”Future of Romania”, a debate organized by the Grand National Lodge in Romania.

To facilitate the clarification of issues concerning major issues that concern Romania today, the Grand National Lodge in Romania organizes a series of conferences and debates, in a broad framework, with the involvement of civil society and stakeholders.

The first conference took place in Bucharest, a conference attended by MEP Ramona Mănescu on January 15, 2019.

While the debate was devoted to the importance of taking over the Presidency of the EU Council, the MEP stressed that “Romania has the most important maturity exam in the last 12 years! For six months now, Romania has a very complex task – technically and politically. Moreover, we must do this while the eyes of the whole of Europe are fixed on us. For the first time since joining the EU, we have to show what we can do for Europe. We have to demonstrate the capacity to handle large dossiers that far outweigh the country’s borders. “

“By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong mark on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens. It’s a moment of great prestige! And it’s happening for the first time since joining the EU! “added Ramona Mănescu.

Continue Reading