Representatives of the Belgrade Center for Human Rights participated in ECRE Annual General Conference in Berlin, from 12 to 14 October. ECRE, an alliance of 90 organisations in 38 countries protecting refugee rights across Europe, expresses deep concerns about Europe’s growing emphasis on externalization of migration control, which has now moved center stage. The EU is outsourcing its responsibilities on refugee protection and giving financial incentives to countries to stop refugees reaching Europe. Making deals with countries with poor human rights records will not address the root causes of why people flee and it leaves refugees in life threatening situations, ECRE states during its Annual General Conference in Berlin.
Agreements such as the EU-Turkey deal cannot be a blueprint for what the EU does on refugee protection. It is clear that the deal is failing on the most basic level: the respect for the human rights of people fleeing war and persecution. EU externalization policies also make refugees – and the human rights violations against them – invisible to the European public. ECRE believes that it is critical to counter this dangerous trend by retaining human rights as a key objective of all European external action.
“The EU is now a global diplomatic actor as well as the world’s biggest donor and a major player in the humanitarian sector. Europe has the normative power to significantly improve the situation of refugees,” says Catherine Woollard, ECRE’s Secretary General. “It could do so much more to ensure refugee protection in regions of origin, through promoting stability, resilience and human rights. But never as an alternative to the right to asylum in Europe.”
ECRE seriously doubts that this deal-making approach will be effective. And overall, the credibility and identity of Europe depends on it being true to its values. Collectively, Europe must therefore assume its fair share of global responsibility for refugee protection.