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#Plenary: European Parliament discussed PNR, Turkey, data protection and Panama papers in Strasbourg



ParliamentMEPs adopted an agreement on the sharing of passenger name records to help fight terrorism and debated counterterrorism measures during an eventful plenary session in Strasbourg last week (11-15 April). They also debate revelations about the Panama papers showing how shell companies are being used to avoid paying taxes as well as the migration agreement with Turkey. In addition new rules to give people more control over their personal data were approved.

MEPs voted Tuesday in favour of a centralised asylum system to allow the EU to better manage flows of migrants and asylum seekers.

The migration agreement between the EU and Turkey is imperfect, but the most realistic tool to tackle the situation, said many MEPs during a debate on 13 April. They also raised concerns over media freedom and the rule of law in Turkey in a discussion on the progress made by the country towards EU membership on Wednesday afternoon.

MEPs discussed on Tuesday the Panama papers revelations of tax evasion through offshore companies and called for more measures to improve tax transparency. In addition European Parliament President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders agreed on Parliament setting up of an inquiry committee to investigate the Panama papers.

Parliament adopted on 14 April new rules to give companies legal protection against theft or misuse of their trade secrets, while including safeguards for journalists and whistle-blowers.

The refugee crisis needs joint solutions, said Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa during his formal address to the Parliament on 13 April.

An agreement on the use of passenger name records (PNR) was endorsed by the Parliament on 14 April. The directive establishes common rules for airlines to share data with national authorities to help fight terrorism and serious crime.

Measures to fight terrorism following recent attacks in Paris and Brussels were debated with representatives of Commission and Council on 12 April.

Parliament approved €100 million in emergency aid for refugees within the EU and €2 m to hire new staff for the EU law enforcement agency Europol’s counter-terrorism centre on 12 April.

Measures taken by the Polish government have led to the effective paralysis of the country's constitutional tribunal, posing a danger to democracy and the rule of law, said MEPs in a non-binding resolution adopted on 13 April.

On 14 April, MEPs approved a reform of  European data protection rules to give internet users more control of their personal data.

Asylum policy

Turkey’s policy in #Libya threatens EU



The Turkish intervention into the Libyan conflict caused the negative effect for the region: the balance of power changed and the GNA liberated Tripoli from the LNA forces and recently started a big-scale offensive on Sirte city. On 6 June after negotiations with the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa  and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, issued the Cairo Declaration.

It is based on the agreements reached at the Berlin Conference on Libya in January. According to Cairo Declaration, "all parties undertake to cease fire from 6h local time on Monday, 8 June". In addition, it provides for the continuation of negotiations in Geneva under UN patronage of a joint military committee in the 5+5 format (five representatives from each side). Further progress on other issues, including political, economic and security, will depend on the success of its work.

EU Foreign Affairs Minister Josep Borrell, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo welcomed the declaration and called for the cessation of all hostilities in Libya and the withdrawal of all foreign troops and military equipment from the country.

The French president noted that Turkey is playing "a dangerous game" in Libya. "I don't want in six months, or one year or two, to see that Libya is in the situation that Syria is in today," Macron added.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendyas announced on Wednesday 24 June in a statement following the visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel to Evros that Turkey "continues to undermine security and stability, as well as peace in the Eastern Mediterranean", causing problems for all its neighbours. "Turkey has continuously violated the sovereignty of Libya, Syria, Iraq and our EU partner, the Republic of Cyprus. In Libya, again in clear disregard for international legitimacy, it violates the UN embargo in pursuit of its neo-Osmanian aspirations. It openly ignores Europe's repeated calls for respect for international legitimacy," Dendyas said.

Turkey rejected the Cairo Declaration: The "Cairo Initiative" on the Libyan settlement is “not convincing” and insincere, declared Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. After the Cairo Declaration Chairman of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj urged the GNA troops to "continue their path" towards Sirte.

The recent success of the GNA troops is caused by the participation of Syrian mercenaries, connected with jihadists, who actively were sent in Libya by Turkey to fight against the LNA from may 2019. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the number of fighters from the pro-Turkey Syrian factions today can reach more than 18 000. Generally, the mercenaries are from Al-Mu'tasim Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Northern Falcons Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah. The mercenaries are promised to be paid 1500-2000 $ a month, but the current monthly salary of each fighter is around 400$.

The policy of Turkey in the Libyan region represents destructive neo-Ottoman and pan-islamist strategy, which is based on the neocolonialist ambitions. The possible explanation for the intervention to Libya is the instability in Turkey itself and the Erdogan’s loss of popularity (the support of AKP party came from 33.9 in February 2020 to 30.7 in May 2020 according to Metropol). The Turkish president uses the Islamic narrative (in Libya as the war on side of the GNA, in Turkey – the initiative to convert Hagia Sophia back into Mosque) for the legitimation of his power. İbrahim Karagül , the columnist in the mainstream Yeni Şafak media of Turkish Republic wrote:“Turkey will never withdraw from Libya. It will not give up before achieving its aim.”

The major pro-Erdogan media spread this neocolonialist agenda about from November 2019 (when GNA signed 2 deals with Erdogan): Libya is seen as a part of the neo-ottoman empire.

Threat for the EU

The negative effect of the neo-ottoman agenda in Libya is the threat of the new migration crisis, which can happen to the EU. In march 2020 Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Tayyip Erdogan, declared, that Turkey will not close the borders for refugees until the EU fulfills its promises to Ankara. Recently Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has noted the surge of a new wave of refugees to Europe amidst the stabilization of the COVID-19 situation. If Turkey responds to this challenge, Europe will face a new migration crisis and its social services will feel the main blow from the new wave of refugees.

The other front of threat is the Libyan costs, the starting point for the trip of migrants to Europe. Nearly 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants that were transported to Libya over the last five months have fled the north African nation for Europe according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

European governments are taking steps to actively counter Turkish policy in Libya: France has already addressed NATO on this issue. French president has already discussed the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump, and more exchanges on the issue are expected in the coming weeks.

In order to protect European interests, it is important to protect Libya from Turkish expansion and to prevent Erdogan from gaining control over the country's assets.

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Asylum policy

#EUAsylumRules - Reform of the #DublinSystem



The influx of migrants and asylum seekers to Europe in recent years has shown the need for a fairer, more effective European asylum policy. Check out the infographic for more information.
© European Union 2018 -EP   

Although the record migratory flows to the EU witnessed in 2015 and 2016 have subsided, Europe - due to its geographic position and stability - is likely to remain a destination for asylum seekers and migrants amid international and internal conflicts, climate change and poverty.

There is need for an overhaul of EU asylum rules, and of the Dublin system in particular, in order to increase the EU's preparedness for receiving migrants and asylum seekers and to ensure greater solidarity and a fairer sharing of responsibility among EU countries.

Young Rohingya refugees look out over Palong Khali refugee camp, a sprawling site located on a hilly area near the Myanmar border in south-east Bangladesh.© UNHCR/Andrew McConnellYoung Rohingya refugees look out over Palong Khali refugee camp, near the Myanmar border in south-east Bangladesh.© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

What are the Dublin rules?

The cornerstone of the EU asylum system, the Dublin regulation determines which EU country is responsible for processing applications for international protection. On 6 November 2017, the European Parliament confirmed a mandate for inter-institutional negotiations with EU governments on an overhaul of the Dublin rules. Parliament's suggestions for a new Dublin regulation include:

  • The country in which an asylum seeker first arrives would no longer be automatically responsible for processing the asylum application.
  • Asylum seekers with a 'genuine link' to a particular EU country should be transferred there.
  • Those without a genuine link to an EU country should be shared fairly among all member states. Countries refusing to participate in the transfer of asylum seekers could lose EU funds.
  • Security measures should be stepped up, and all asylum seekers must be registered upon arrival with their fingerprints checked against relevant EU databases.
  • Provisions on minors should be strengthened and family reunification procedures accelerated.

Although the Parliament has been ready since November 2017 to enter negotiations on an overhaul of the Dublin system, EU governments have been unable to reach a position on the proposals.

Learn more about Parliament's suggested amendments in the infographic above and in this background note.

13.6 million - The number of new people forced to flee their home in 2018

According to the UN Refugee Agency, 13.6 million people were forcibly displaced in 2018 due to persecution, conflict or violence. It brings the total worldwide population of forcibly displaced people to a new high of 70.8 million. 84% of the world's refugees are hosted by developing regions.

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Asylum policy

Future #Asylum reform: Designed to address both primary and secondary movements



The reform of EU asylum rules initiated by the Commission in 2015 are designed to ensure humane and dignified treatment of asylum seekers, simplified and shortened asylum procedures, as well as stricter rules to combat abuse. The key objectives of the reforms include both stopping secondary movements and ensuring solidarity for member states of first entry. With discussions ahead of the European Council focusing on how no member state should be left alone or put under disproportionate pressure be it from primary or secondary movements, the European Commission has today set out in factsheet how the future reform would contribute to both objectives. Read the factsheet here.

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