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DRAFT Minutes EPMWR Meeting

DRAFT Minutes EPMWR Meeting

 EUROPEAN PLATFORM FOR MIGRANT WORKERS’ RIGHTS

 

DRAFT Minutes EPMWR Meeting

27/28 November 2006 Brussels

 

 

Participants

 

René Plaetevoet, Amandine Guilbert (Belgium / December 18), Helle Stenum (Denmark /MixEurope), Andrei Arjupin (Estonia / Legal Information Centre on Human Rights), Marie Perrin (France / Collectif + AEDH), Moaiwa Ahmed (Greece/ Greek Forum of Migrants), Catherine Cosgrave (Ireland / Immigrant Council of Ireland) Siobhan O’Donoghue (Migrant Rights Centre Ireland), Gabriele Sospiro (Italy / ARCI), Norma Taylor (Netherlands/ Oikos + Platform), Anna Figueras (Spain / Catalan Platform), Miguel Benito (Sweden / Immigrant Institutet), Don Flynn (United Kingdom / Migrants’ Rights Network), Torsten Moritz (Europe / CCME), Michele Le Voy (Europe / Picum), Kris Pollet (Europe, AI Europe)                                   

Regrets: Marie Duflo (France/Collectif), Marek Canek (Czech Republic / Multicultual Centre Prague)

 

Session 1: Current EU Policies and Instruments on Migration

 

Torsten Moritz from CCME gave an overview of the current policies and instruments, followed by presentation on the Return Directive.

 

Since the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU has some competences in the area of migration and asylum. Following the Tampere program (1999-2004) the EU is now in the second phase of the harmonisation of migration-related legislation. Whilst the initial aim was to harmonise the procedure of entering the EU for the purpose of work, the proposed 2001 Directive was rejected. Following the consultation on the Green Paper on Economic Migration (2005) the Commission adopted a Policy Plan for Legal Migration. This is in addition to existing instruments on migration such as the Directives on Long-Term Residents and the Directive on Family Reunification.

 

The Directive on Long-Term Residents (5 years or more in an EU country) should be transposed by the member states by now. The Commission is currently reviewing the process, and apparently most of the member states have done less (or nothing) for its transposition.

 

The same situation is found with the Directive on Family Reunification. The Commission should be controlling the implementation of the Directive, but it apparently facing resource problems.

 

The Commission  is now looking at outsourcing this monitoring process (government agencies are apparently applying for these contracts, which should raise concerns about the independence of the work).

 

In terms of the Policy Plan on Legal Migration, the Commission is in the process of developing a Horizontal Framework Directive followed by a Directive on Highly Qualified/Skilled Workers. This is the result of the Commission’s decision to go for a sectoral/vertical approach with respect to harmonisation in the field of “legal”economic migration.

 

With respect to the proposed Return Directive, the proposition was adopted in September 2006 after long and difficult discussions. It concerns the  measures by EU member states to expel third-country nationals without valid residence permit (who either had a permit which has expired, or never had one). This proposal is a complete disappointment because it focuses on return in a technical sense, with minimal safeguards. Potentially, any kind of regularisation is affected, because as soon as a state finds out about irregular migrants, it has to send them back. The standards are minimal, also regarding children.

 

Some issues of concern:

 

  • The time limits for detention, because it varies according to member states: some have a very short period of detention (like Spain and Italy), and good judiciary review systems, some longer periods (like Estonia or Germany). In fact, what will be a positive evolution for some states would be negative for others.
  • A re-entry ban can be adopted for a maximum period of 5 years (the question being: will it be a “may clause” or a “must clause”?)
  • Judicial remedies should have a suspensive effect, and not only be available  in the third country after the removal.
  • The detention – or custody –  should be the last resort after all other possibilities have been exhausted, and should always be justified.
  • The question of transit zones has to be clarified: how will such a zone be defined (theoretically, it could be a whole city or island)? What will be the rights guaranteed in such a zone? Will the directive be applicable, and will the minimal rights set by this directive be enjoyed by third-country nationals in these transit zones?

 

It is important to note that the Return Directive is the first directive that will be adopted under the co-decision system, which means the European Parliament will have to agree. However, the position of the EP remains unclear, as it is becoming more and more cautious. Usually, the EP is more open to the human rights based approach, and wants to take this opportunity seriously. But they will be pressured by their political parties in the member states. In general, the chances are low to an agreement soon.

 

The whole question of return is highly politicised. There is clearly an interest with the member states to have a European instrument for “throwing people out”. Nevertheless, several member states find the proposed Directive still going too far and basically making it more difficult for them to return/expel people.

Discussion (summary main points)

 

  • Michelle stressed that the Commission’s approach lacks a human rights-based approach. She noted additional concerns with respect to the possibility of collective deportations or the fact that people would be returned on a very short notice (leading to issues around salary payments), the fact that NGOs often have no access to the detention centres and the situation of children (see the new campaign).
  • Regarding the judicial remedy debate, the problem is that the directive also applies to rejected asylum seekers (who have already had judicial remedies) – adding another appeal process to the whole system would make the structure more and more complicated. Furthermore, the voluntary departure possibility could be impaired if the person is detained during this period. The content of the directive is deteriorating all the time, and the discussions are stuck. (Kris)
  • In theory, the return decision should intervene after all remedies have been exhausted, including  the possibility for asylum status. The directive is very technical, moving the discussion away from the bigger picture: what should be the alternatives to forced return?(Torsten)
  • There is a need for a discussion on whether or not detention is fundamentally acceptable or not. Position of groups like AI and CCME is that detention is only acceptable if there is a clear definition of detention and when alternative measures are in place and have been taken into consideration.
  • What’s the impact of this Directive on the possibilities for member states to implement regularization programmes?

 

There was a discussion on how this could be linked with the work of the EPMWR? As a Platform, shouldn’t we develop a strategic approach rather than focusing on one or two specific Directives? What is the potential value we could bring to this debate? Apart from a strategic approach we also need to identify tactical interventions. As one participants phrased it: “There is the need to speak more authoritatively on these Directives, to identify the important ones and then establish criteria for issues we want to focus on. Our responsibility is to develop a strategic sense, express the key issues and raise awareness amongst stakeholders”.(Don)

 

Session 2: Procedures and rules for the Platform

 

Aims of the Platform

 

Following  brief discussion it was agreed to keep the following two aims for the Platform:

 

  • Advocate a better promotion and protection of the human rights of all migrant workers and members of their families
  • Work together at the national and EU-level for the ratification of the UN Migrant Workers’ Convention by one or more EU member states.

 

Membership

 

There is general agreement that the Platform is an NGO platform, although working together with local/national authorities or international organizations is not excluded.

 

Membership criteria, and application form and process needs to be developed and should be approved in advance of the next meeting.

 

The process for dealing with membership application should include the following: written application to the Secretariat (one-page application form to download); motivation to join the platform/ indication of what the organisation stands for. Decision on application can be done by email, with confirmation at the next Platform meeting.

 

 

 

Steering Committee

 

There will be a small Steering Committee to assist the secretariat with the implementation of the work plan (including the preparation of the meetings and identifying funding opportunities). It was agreed that Torsten Moritz (CCME) and Gabriele Sospiro (ARCI) will be the first members of this Committee (for an initial six-month period). The Steering Committee should also work together with the Secretariat on the expansion of the membership (including outreach to unions).

 

Working Groups

 

It was agreed to set up/continue the following Working Groups:

 

  • Shadow Reports

This is part of the EPÏM project deliverables. The group already met in September.

Members: Helle Stenum, Don Flynn, Andrei Arjupin, Catherine Cossgrave/Fidele

Mutwarasibo, Marie Duflo/Marie Perrin

 

  • Migrants Rights Charter

The aim is to develop a concise document that would be used as tool to get across the key principles/issues that are part of a rights-based approach. This would be complimentary to the continuing work on promoting the Convention. The suggestion is to launch the Charter at the July Forum in Brussels.

Members: Siobhan O’Donoghue, Michele LeVoy, Don Flynn

 

There was no agreement on setting up working groups on the EU Directives (starting with the proposed Horizontal Framework Directive on Economic Migration) and one on the UN Convention. This needs to be taken up by the Secretariat and progress reported to the Platform members.

 

The Working Groups will be assisted by the Secretariat (Amandine and René).

 

Session 3: Overview of the Mapping Exercise

 

As part of the EPIM project, the Secretariat is carrying out a mapping exercise on the position taken in each of the EU Member States vis-à-vis the UN Migrant Workers Convention. In addition, there will also be an overview of the positions taken by European institutions. The mapping is based on a questionnaire and complemented with info through desk research.

 

It was agreed that the results of this work need to be made public and that funds should be found to publish it, since this is not included in the EPIM grant.

 

The final version should be ready by the next Platform meeting. Those who did not yet complete the questionnaire are urged to do sor

 

Update on national initiatives

 

  • In France, Emmaus International is starting a new campaign. There will be some events on December 18.
  • In Spain, the Catalan Platform will have a manifesto broadcasted on TV and radio, and published in newspapers, in cooperation with the Catalan government.
  • In Estonia, priority goes to the implementation of the EU directives.
  • Amnesty International is constantly pushing for ratification, and a call is included in all AI statements. Migrants rights is one of the priorities now, and there is a discussion within the national AI sections on what to do with the Convention.
  • In Sweden, the new government is anti-immigrant, and migrant groups are getting less support. They therefore find it difficult to engage in solidarity activities. The government says that all the rights are already covered by national legislation, so there are problems to keep alive the fight for the ratification of the Convention.
  • It is similar in the Netherlands, which is becoming an intolerant society.

 

The Shadow Reports

 

The idea of this pilot project (part of EPIM grant) is to link the Convention and its rights-based approach with the EU policies and the situation on the ground. It concerns labour migration, and deals with issues such as access to the labour market, social and economic rights, like education, health care, housing, and civil and political rights. The shadow reports cover five countries: Denmark, Estonia, France, United Kingdom and Ireland.

 

There will be a launch event in Brussels. We should explore how this could be combined with a formal launch of the new EPMWR. We need to find out what the best time for the event could be and how it could be linked with other events (and work together with for example ETUC or ECSC). Should coincide with the next full Platform meeting.

 

Overview of other projects under the EPIM grant

 

  • The European Women’s Lobby will have a seminar conference on gender and migration, with the participation of some migrant women.
  • ENAR will hold a meeting on social inclusion, integration and racism, based on questionnaires send to members.
  • PICUM works on mainstreaming undocumented migrants, social inclusion at the national and EU level with its newsletter, and with looking at the core human rights treaties and how they apply to undocumented migrants (the results will be published in February). An end of the year report based on the newsletters will be published, as well as three policy briefs on decent work, managed migrants and trafficking. There will be an event in February with the European Parliament, and a meeting with the Fourth World Intergroup in Strasbourg.PICUM will provide input into the communication on the fight against illegal migration and build up a formal response to this in cooperation with ETUC.

 

More info on the other EPIM projects to be sent around to the Platform members after the EPIM meeting (early December).

 

The Forum on Migration and Development, Brussels, July 2007

 

The Forum will take place in Brussels on July 10 and 11, and the 9th will probably be the civil society day. It will be organised by the Belgian Government, and the King Baudouin Foundation will be involved in the civil society event.

.

It was agreed that the Platform should make its interest known in participating in the organising process around this Forum. We should obviously link up with other groups, both Brussels-based as well as international groups. It will also be important to make the link with the migrant communities in Brussels/Belgium and get them involved.

 

This is an opportunity for the Platform to step forward publicly. We could do this by launching the Migrants Rights Charter, participating in the organisation of an event and/or releasing a common statement. Everyone agreed that there should be a civil society event and that as Platform we should play a role. Members need to take this up with their respective organisations and will provide feedback.

 

Next Meeting

 

The next meeting will take place during the third week of March 2007 and coincide with a public event on the shadow reports. Dates to be suggested by the Secretariat as quickly as possible.

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