Basta! The criminal cynicism of the European Union

 [Unofficial translation]

Brussels, 17 April 2015

To cope with the daily and growing tragedies at the European Union’s borders, the Commission did nothing more than announce the upcoming publication of an umpteenth “European agenda on migration”. We are told that its holistic approach is innovative. In fact, innovation means an agenda “coupled with better governance”, its redundant ambition is notably “to act more decisively against illegal immigration and uphold greater safety at the borders[1]. And two months ago, the prolongation of the operation Triton, coordinated by Frontex, until the end of 2015 was announced.

The European Union cannot say more clearly that the Sudanese, Eritreans, Syrians who want to save their freedom – and their life- by trying to reach the coasts of Europe are promised to death!

For now, it is them who need protection, not the Europeans. As far as we know, the Europeans, despite their economic difficulties, are not lead to death, do not live in countries at war, do not have to leave their housing, their town, their village, their family etc. to try to survive! The exiles do! And the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) tells us that the number of exiles has never been as high in the last twenty years and will continue to increase…

We, members of AEDH, European citizens, are angry!

We are angry because year after year, we have repeated that immigration should not be dealt with this way. It is inefficient and counterproductive as every new barrier, every new operation (Triton today, Aenas, Hera, Hermes, yesterday) does not hamper migrants’ fear, does not restrain their irresistible urge to live and gives smugglers a perspective for more profit.

We are angry because, year after year, we have seen the Member States – eulogists of intra-European freedom of movement and globalisation – erect walls, barriers, and barbed wire to provide the illusion of security at their borders.

We are angry because we count the amounts spent for this pitiful armada! Over one hundred million euros per year to be subtracted from the budget that could be dedicated to the reception of refugees… And with every new tragic event at sea, the headlong rush towards an illusory European security makes the bill even bigger. Not to mention the tens of thousands of euros dedicated to this new “system of systems” that is EUROSUR, praised for the way it was expected to facilitate search-and-rescue operations.

We are angry because we are ashamed of the fact that migrants get scared when they see European maritime forces approaching and try to escape by throwing themselves into the sea.

We are done feeling ashamed of being Europeans! So we say: STOP! BASTA! ASSEZ! ????! ΣΤΟΠ! SUFICIENTE! PIETIEKAMI! PAKANKAMAI! GENOEG! DOSC! DOST! RIITTÄÄ! DOVOLJ! 

We are done being ashamed of our countries unable to participate in the resettlement efforts for Syrian refugees, and abandoning them to the responsibility of Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon amongst others. We are done being ashamed of seeing the United-States being far more open to relocating refugees than all EU countries combined.

We refuse that, in the face of vital urgency for thousands of people, the only answer is to increase the barriers to migration in particular by reinforcing a “partnership" with third countries - of origin or transit. Even more, we will not accept that the EU delegates to these third-countries the mission of keeping refugees away from its borders, whether in the context of the ENP, the Khartoum process or the Common Agenda for Migration and Mobility agreement (CAMM) recently signed with Nigeria. We would consider it shameful to make them responsible for the reception of the refugees that the EU doesn’t want!

In other words, we call on our ministers to stop meeting, month by month, to deplore the tragedies of migrants and to stop refusing to implement a reception policy for refugees that is worthy of the European Union and of the history of our countries!

Solutions and means exist to ensure secure access of migrants and refugees to the EU. The EU can and must implement them. NOW!

- - - In legal terms, this requires a major revision of the visa policy: easier access to humanitarian visas or asylum where there is a diplomatic mission of a Member State; elimination of airport transit visa practised by certain Member States; control, by the Commission, of the application of procedural safeguards provided by the Community Code on Visas in each Member State. The Fundamental Rights Agency, in a recent paper, made proposals in this direction[2].

-    - Practically, this means that the maritime and land spaces of access to the EU must be secured, not to intercept migrants but to ensure their safety. This is the role that many NGOs wanted to see assigned to Frontex since its establishment; if Frontex cannot commit to this path, we demand that the means currently allocated to the agency are transferred to the organisation of surveillance operations like Mare Nostrum as recommended by UNHCR in its "Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative (CMSI)[3].

-   - Because everything suggests that flows of asylum-seekers will continue to increase, we demand that the Directive on temporary protection of 2001 is finally activated. It was designed to meet the "event of mass influx of displaced people” and provides for “measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof". Therefore, it has an extremely important role in the current context.

-  - Because the EU borders are shared by 28 countries and this sharing implies solidarity between the Member States, we insist on the elimination of the Dublin III regulation, source of imbalance between the Member States and source of abuse of asylum seekers.

When the first measures for an « open and safe European Union, fully attached to the respect of the obligations of the Geneva Convention on Refugees and of other relevant instruments on human rights and able to meet the humanitarian needs on the basis of solidarity” will be introduced, then we will be proud to be European citizens!

Download the press release in English or in French



Dominique Guibert, chairman

Catherine Teule, vice-chairwoman

AEDH, European Association for the Defence of Human Rights

33, rue de la Caserne. B-1000 Bruxelles

Tél : +32(0)25112100 Fax : +32(0)25113200 Email :

The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association Européenne pour la défense des Droits de l’Homme -AEDH) consists of associations and leagues defending human rights in the countries of the European Union. For more information, visit


[1] Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the Commission, Brussels, March, 4, 2015

Back to previous page