Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination






While belief in the sanctity of human life has ancient precedents in many religions of the world, the idea of modern human rights began during the era of renaissance humanism in the early modern period. The European wars of religion and the civil wars of seventeenth-century, England gave rise to the philosophy of liberalism and belief in human rights became a central concern of European intellectual culture during the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment.
The ASILE project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role and contribution. It examines the characteristics of international, country-specific and EU asylum governance instruments and arrangements and their gender and age specific impacts on individuals and sharing of responsibility from the perspective of their effectiveness, fairness and consistency with international and regional human rights and refugee law standards…
These ideas of human rights lay at the core of the American and French Revolutions which occurred toward the end of that century. Documents asserting individual rights, such the:

are the written precursors to many of today’s human rights documents.

Democratic evolution through the nineteenth century paved the way for the advent of universal suffrage in the twentieth century. Two world wars led to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).



Human Rights and Global Diversity (following a 2-Days seminar from the Owada chair at Leiden University on the issue of reconciliation, between nations, cultures and individuals)  | (Global) justice and Human Rights (Margaret Atwood and Graça Machel) | European Union’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights | Migration (EU agreement on reform of EU asylum and migration system, Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the European migrant/refugee crisis, EU migration policy: fairness, mobility and narratives, the principle of free movement of people in the EU, discussion on migration, EASO, Immigrant Russia - a crisis of demography or ethnicity?, rapid increase in migrants from north Africa as a result of political unrest in the Middle East


Professor Obiora Okafor from Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC opened 16 January 2024 the third cycle of the Owada Chair with the lecture Global Diversity and the Living International Human Rights Law. Followed by a debate on his lecture. Wednesday 17 January included a roundtable discussion and a PhD workshop.
The lecture was delivered by Professor Obiora Okafor, specialised in International Law and Institutions at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He wondered why each country interprets human rights differently, stressing that diversity in human rights is not necessarily a problem


(GLOBAL) JUSTICE and HUMAN RIGHTS (Graça Machel, Margaret Atwood, United Nations, Madeleine Albright († 23 March 2022), ECHR, EU-LEX, Russia, European Commission)  
On 27 October 2023, Graça Machel lectured in the Great Auditorium of the Academy Building of Leiden University on human rights, the crucial role of academia and the importance of intergenerational dialogue

On 8 February 2021, Leiden University had the honour to bestow an honorary doctorate upon Graça Machel, prominent former stateswoman from Mozambique. She received this doctorate because of her significant role in advocating for the rights and well-being of women and children in Africa and beyond. Dr. Machel's influential work has led to concrete and lasting change for women and children in Africa, making her a global inspiration.

Under the theme of Intergenerational justice and human rights in a time of planetary crises in Africa, researchers from Leiden University Law School, the United Nations and the Africa Study Centre convened in two sessions of cross-disciplinary and reflective discussions on the intergenerational dimensions of health, development and well-being in Africa.

Graça Machel is a Mozambican politician and humanitarian. She is the widow of former President of Mozambique Samora Machel (1975–1986) and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela (1998–2013). Machel is an international advocate for women's and children's rights and was made an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for her humanitarian work.

Graça Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. As a panel member she facilitates coalition building to leverage and broker knowledge, and convenes decision-makers to influence policy for lasting change in Africa.

The speech “Intergenerational Justice and Human Rights in a Time of Planetary Crises in Africa” can be found here



"Standing on the shoulders of giants" session at African Youth Summit 2018, together with Wole Soyinka ->

Margaret Atwood, writer of great imagination and an influential political activist, addressed the topic of human rights during a lecture in 2018 organized by the NEXUS Institute.


What are these Human Rights of Which You Speak?


Sep. 2021, "France should regain its “legal sovereignty” so as to “no longer be subject to the rulings of the CJEU or the ECHR,” former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, referring to two top courts in the EU."

Human rights: Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." (This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations).

The United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees guides national legislation concerning political asylum. Under these agreements, a refugee (or for cases where repressing base means has been applied directly or environmentally to the defoulé refugee) is a person who is outside their own country's territory (or place of habitual residence if stateless) owing to fear of persecution on protected grounds. Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinions and membership and/or participation in any particular social group or social activities.

  Video's about focus on human rights


On June 16, 2015, a Report of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance was launched at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Its Co-Chairs, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright († 23 March 2022) and former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, presented the document and its key findings and recommendations. “Much more is needed from the United Nations and, indeed, other global institutions dealing with, for example, security sector reform and the rule of law to economic and social recovery and the promotion of human rights,” noted Professor Gambari in his remarks.

The report, entitled Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, reflects the global perspective of commission members that have served in leading government and non-governmental positions.


On 17 December 2010 there is a public self-burning in Sidi Bouzid in Tunesia. This action is the beginning of a mass protests against Tunesian government. Consequence is a chain reaction, by which rises a revolt in the greater part of the Arab world. The political unrest seems to originate flows of migration to countries around and to the EU.

The Italian island Lampedusa has already to do with large flows of refugees from North-Africa since the nineties. Another place to arrive is Malta. Refugees are for the greater part Tunesian, but also Libyan and other North African migrants have joined immigration-flows. In fact there is a continued migration flow from Africa, especially from out economic intentions

Italy tries to pressure other EU member-states by giving humanitarian visa to Tunesian migrants. In doing so, much fuss occur between France and Germany and on the other hand with Italy. Also other member-states join the discussion. Italy and Malta in the mean time has received EU support through Frontex-missions. Italy however, wants also support from other member-states to meet migrants.

In a bold new step towards ensuring human rights protections for citizens across the European Union, the EU reached an agreement with the Council of Europe which will see the European Union’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All Member States of the EU are party to the Convention and as such all persons within their jurisdiction, having exhausted domestic remedies, are permitted to take their grievance to the European Court of Human Rights. But with the EU itself not a party to the Convention, persons could not directly bring cases neither against the EU nor against the EU institutions, if, for example, their rights were encroached upon by an EU act, measure or omission.

The ECHR protects the fundamental civil and political rights of persons living in states that are a party to the Convention and through the European Court of Human Rights provides an enforcement mechanism to realise this goal in the margins of the Council of Europe, the international organisation founded in 1949 under which the European Court of Human Rights and the ECHR operate. Extending the right of referral to the court to European citizens against acts of the EU closes the gap in legal protection of fundamental rights in Europe.

Accession to the ECHR has become a legal obligation for the EU under the Lisbon Treaty. EU accession to the ECHR is a major step for the EU, leading to enhanced accountability and credibility both internally and externally ("practice-what-you-preach"). The Union will subject itself to external judicial control in the light of the rights guaranteed by the Convention and triggered by an individual application. This means that any person claiming to be a victim of a violation of a right guaranteed by the ECHR by an institution or body of the Union is able to bring a complaint against the Union under the same conditions as those applying to complaints brought against Member States.

Accession negotiations started in 2010 in the margins of the Steering Committee for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, firstly, in the format of an expert group and as from June 2011 in the format 47+1 (47 Council of Europe Member States + EU negotiator). From early on, the guiding principle was that the EU as the 48th party acceding to the ECHR should join on an equal footing with other contacting parties with the same rights and obligations, and should have, for example, its own judge in the Court as well as the right to participate in the Council of Europe bodies as regards Convention related functions with a right to vote. However, by definition, the EU joining as the 48th member, as a non-state entity with a distinctive legal system and a judicial system of its own, on top of its 27 Member States, paved the way for cumbersome and technically complex discussions.

For example, in line with the current voting rules the EU and its Member States would have majority in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe when it supervised the execution of judgments. The EU could vote to block the adoption of decisions potentially unfavourable to it. Therefore for the proper functioning of the supervision system rules were needed to mitigate the effects of block voting. What ensues from the negotiations is a complex system, combining levels of majorities with levels of minorities for different types of decisions but the essential objective of ensuring a voting right for the EU on a par with other Contracting Parties seems to have been ensured.

On 5 April 2013 the negotiation team finalised the draft accession agreement of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, welcomed the agreement reached by the negotiators: “This is a decisive step, paving the way to EU accession to the European Convention of Human ights. It will contribute to the creation of a single European legal space, putting in place the missing link in the European system of fundamental rights protection".

Amnesty International’s Brussels Office praised the move as a “ground-breaking step for human rights protection”, with Nicolas Berger affirming “we welcome this initial agreement as a key landmark for ensuring coherence in human rights protection and accountability for human rights violations in Europe.

After endorsement by the Steering Committee on Human Rights, the text of the Agreement will be submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Union to assess the compatibility with the EU Treaties and to the European Court of Human Rights. Political institutions of the two organisations need to approve the text and the EU would have to adopt internal rules laying down modalities for the EU post-accession. Least but not least the Agreement needs to be ratified by the 47 contracting parties of the Convention. Thus, before accession is to become a reality there are still several legal and political hurdles that need to be overcome. However, with the agreement at negotiators' level an important step in that direction has been taken.

In the context of free movement of people in the EU, European Movement (UK) published in June 2013 a notible article on the claims of "systematic" and "fruent" abuse of the achievement, due to claims that 4 Member States made of “systematic” and “frequent” abuse. In a letter sent on 23 April 2013, the British Home Secretary and the Ministers of Interior of Austria, Germany and the Netherlands raised concerns with their fellow Member States about systematic and frequent abuse of the right to free movement by certain EU citizens. The letter spoke of the strain placed on host societies by EU citizens who allegedly move to other Member States to claim benefits and called for immediate measures to combat fraud and systematic abuse. On 15 October 2013, facts & figures were published on the free movement of people in the EU.

A report by the European Commission shows that the vast majority of EU citizens move to another EU member state to work. Overall, most recent data do not suggest that "welfare tourism" or exploitation of the benefits system is a significant problem among mobile EU citizens:

- In most Member States mobile EU citizens represent less than 4% of the total population.
- In 4 Member States (Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Austria) they represent 5-8% of the total population.
- In 2 Member States (Cyprus and Luxembourg) mobile EU citizens represent >10% of the total population (Luxembourg = 39%).
- 78% of all the 14,1 million mobile EU citizens were of working age (15 to 64), compared to a share around 66% amongst nationals (European Commission).
- More than 77% of working-age EU mobile citizens were economically active, compared to less than 72% amongst nationals (European Commission).
- 68% of working-age mobile EU citizens were in employment, compared to 65% amongst nationals (European Commission).
- GDP of EU-15 estimated to have increased by almost 1% in the long-term as a result of post-enlargement mobility (2004-2009) (European Commission).
- Recent intra-EU mobility flows generated an overall income gain of around 24 billion euros for EU citizens (European Commission)

There is no evidence of mobile EU citizens representing an excessive burden on social security systems in the host Member States.

While debate on EU citizens' mobility as well as on measures to combat any fraud in that respect is to be welcomed, it is questionable whether the letter approached any perceived or existing problem from the right angle. First of all, while speaking of "a significant number of new immigrants drawing social assistance in new countries" and of "considerable strain by certain immigrants from other Member States", the letter fails to provide factual evidence or data to clarify the nature and scope of the problem that the Ministers are referring to. This raises some doubts as to whether the problem that the letter tries to address is as large-scale as implied in the absence of concrete data. Furthermore, the letter addresses free movement of EU citizens but speaks of EU citizens in terms of immigration. As a question of principle there should be no ambiguity about the status and different sets of rights of EU citizens and third-country migrants.

The right of EU citizens to move and settle within the EU, whether for economic or other purposes, is fundamentally different from the possibilities offered to non-EU nationals who are subject to immigration rules.




BRUSSELS - Xenophobia, racism, and neo-Nazism are among a long list of human rights violations frequently committed in the EU, according to a report released by the Russian Federation on Thursday (6 December).

“All this is in an obvious contradiction with the EU claims of being the model and often the 'supreme arbiter' as far as human rights and democratic freedoms are concerned,” states the 66-page report, published in English on Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs website. The report says the European Commission and member states play lip service to human rights abroad but are reluctant to tackle problems closer to home.

“No progress in solving the EU internal issues and occasional lack of political will are in a stark contrast with the way the European Union lectures other countries,” says the report. It notes that the commission’s investigation into “undemocratic reforms in Hungary has been virtually "soft-pedaled". Lithuania, Poland and Romania, suspected of harbouring secret CIA prisons on their territories in the early 2000s, obstruct independent investigations into the allegations, it says. Attacks and discrimination against minority groups like the Roma, large-scale human trafficking, drop in press freedoms, and growing anti-immigration sentiment are also cited.

The report also lists the member states that have not signed up to key human rights multilateral treaties. Ireland and the Czech Republic, it says, do not participate in a convention against child prostitution, child pornography and sale of children.

The report also analyses member states individually. It claims there is unlawful detention of migrants in France, that Denmark breaches international legal norms by refusing to provide asylum to refugees from Afghanistan, and that Sweden disregards the rights of the child.

The Russian Federation, says the report, is willing to help the EU improve its human rights record through “a constructive dialogue of equals".

Meanwhile, human rights organisations in Russia funded by foreign entities could risk administrative fines or imprisonment if they refuse to label themselves as “foreign agents”. Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Centre, which won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2009, said it refuses to comply with the law which came into force on 21 November.

Meanwhile, Russia’s human rights violations have not escaped US congressional scrutiny. The senate overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday that would ban Russian officials involved in corruption and human rights violations from travelling into their territory.

It also freezes their assets. The bill 'Magnitsky Act' is named after the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitksy who died in prison in 2009 after exposing a tax fraud scam involving high-ranking officials in Russia’s interior and tax ministries.

Russian authorities were quick to deride the legislative act, calling it “something out of the theatre of the absurd”. Moscow is threatening to introduce its own version of the bill, banning American officials involved in human rights abuses.

The so-called Magnitsky Act is tied to a larger measure that aims to normalise trade relations with Russia following its August entry into the World Trade Organisation.

In addition, the letter restricts free movement to those "wishing to work, study or set up a business". By implication other EU citizens would no longer fall under free movement rules but within the scope of immigration rules. This approach would be contrary to the evolution of the Treaties and of the European Union law in the past 20 years, according to which free movement, even if not unlimited and subject to conditions, is a fundamental right of all EU citizens and their family members.
Last but not least, this concerns an area where there is already secondary EU legislation [1] and solid case law in place, with the Commission monitoring compliance and implementation. EU legislation explicitly allows national law to provide for sanctions in case of abuse or fraud but it does not allow general prevention measures such as expulsions or exclusion orders for all persons in a given situation. The European Union is a community based on the rule of law and this means that the revision of legislation cannot take place just because of a perceived problem based on statements which are not founded on facts but emanate from populist rhetoric, coming from just a small number of EU Member States.

EU Ministers debate the issue

Ireland, who holded the EU Council Presidency, considered that having a narrow discussion feeding into prejudices and fuelling xenophobia, was counterproductive. Each Member State has citizens of their own who claim welfare benefits when they shouldn’t and in that context fighting abuse of social welfare rules should be no different as far as citizens of other EU Member States are concerned. The Irish stressed that all Member States need to deal with it in a proportionate and balanced way and argued that the debate should be based on factual evidence.

The European Commission of Migration, Home affairs and Citizenship was asked to look at the implementation of free movement rules together with Member States’ experts and present an interim report to the Justice and Home Affairs Council in October 2013 and a final report in December 2013. In parallel the Citizenship Report, which deals with some of these issues, will be examined in the Council. At the end of the meeting the UK and Germany tried to argue that the discussion constituted an acknowledgement of a wider problem, than just an issue faced by 4 Member States, and welcomed the commitment to look for EU-wide solutions. This interpretation was denied. There was no conclusion as to  whether the problem existed or not, whether it was as large-scale as claimed or not. The only follow-up would be to look at the issue further on the basis of factual data.




20/12/2023: Council and Parliament agree on reform of EU asylum and migration system


Belarus migrants: EU and Nato members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have all seen a surge in the number of people trying to enter their countries illegally from Belarus in recent months. Activists say they are being used as pawns in a political game between non-EU Belarus, run by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and its neighbours. EU officials complain of a continuing hybrid attack by Belarus.


Physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. The movement of populations in modern times has continued under the form of both voluntary migration within one's region, country, or beyond and involuntary migration (which includes the slave trade, trafficking in human beings, ethnic cleansing and climate change).


Today, it seems imperative that the fissures encouraged by collective identities be off-set with ethical standards of respectful engagement with others. What the global community seems to lack is an ethics of comity which would encourage mutual respect and collaboration. We live in a world which is complex and multitudinous in spirit and action but it does not need to be chaotic or confused. The practices of comity permit complexity without it becoming destructive and provide a spontaneous order in which differences can be symbiotic.
In 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commemorated the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. A majority of the 155 States who attended the intergovernmental event in December 2011, the largest in UNHCR’s history, announced concrete steps to improve the protection of refugees and stateless persons. The number of forcibly displaced people worldwide exceeded 42 million, a result of persistent and new conflicts in different parts of the world. By the end of 2011, the figure stood at 42.5 million. Of these, 15.2 million were refugees: 10.4 million under UNHCR’s mandate, and 4.8 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. The overall figure also included 895,000 asylum-seekers and 26.4 million internally displaced persons. Detailed information can be found in the report 'UNHCR Global Trends 2011'

The United Nations (UN) agreed upon the declaration of intentGlobal Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”. The contractual text places particular focus on protection, the rights and improved living and working conditions of migrants and their families. Combating the exploitation of labour, human trafficking and discrimination as well as expanding the options for regular migration represent key elements of the compact. Civil society organisations in particular were successful here in promoting their goals in the negotiating process. Moreover, the compact calls for an improved data management regarding international migration processes, it promotes the tackling of economic, environment-related and political causes of forced migration and stresses the goal of “integrated, secure and coordinated” border management.

The European migrant/refugee crisis / Common European Asylum System

Since April 2015 the European Union has struggled to cope with the crisis, increasing funding for border patrol operations in the Mediterranean, devising plans to fight migrant smuggling, launching Operation Sophia and proposing a new quota system both to relocate asylum seekers among EU states for processing of refugee claims to alleviate the burden on countries on the outer borders of the Union, and to resettle asylum-seekers who have been determined to be genuine refugees. Individual countries have at times reintroduced border controls within the Schengen Area, and rifts have emerged between countries willing to allow entry of asylum-seekers for processing of refugee claims and others countries trying to discourage their entry for processing.

The Entry-Exit system

The Entry-Exit system will help: reduce border check delays and improve the quality of border checks by automatically calculating the authorised stay of each traveller ensure systematic and reliable identification of overstayers and those who no longer fulfil the conditions for entry strengthen internal security and the fight against terrorism by allowing law enforcement authorities access to a travel history records.

The entry-exit system will apply to third country nationals, both those requiring a visa and those visa-exempt, admitted for a short stay of 90 days in any 180 day period. It will register their entry, exit and refusal of entry. It will also store information on their identity and travel documents as well as biometric data (four fingerprints and the facial image).

The draft regulation also provides for interoperability between the entry exit system and the visa information system (VIS) for those third country nationals who require a visa to cross the EU external border. Checking information against the VIS will ensure rapidity and efficiency at the border checks. The system consists of a central database, where the information is stored, connected to national uniform interfaces. Data related to third country nationals will be kept for a period of five years for border management purposes.


Elmar Brok, Philippe Hensmans (Amnesty Int), Florent Marcellesi (MEP), Petros Fassoulas (EMI) discussed solutions to the refugee challenge


Building confidence and striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity / The European Commission’s legislative proposals in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum


During Brussels Think Tank Dialogue 2015, the discussion paper 'Three challenges for tomorrow's EU migration policy: fairness, mobility and narratives' was discused, written by Matthias Mayer, Bertelsmann Stiftung; Yves Pascouau, European Policy Centre (EPC) and Shada Islam, Friends of Europe/Les amis de l´Europe:

Migration and mobility bear an enormous potential for the European Union, migrants, and also the countries of origin. For the EU and its Member States, migration can help to reduce the shrinking working-age populations, contribute positively to state finances and social security systems and create innovations and entrepreneurial potential. On the individual level of the migrant, well-managed migration means development: Migrants can improve their standard of living, expand their personal skill-set and qualifications and realise upward social mobility in the country of destination. Countries of origin may benefit from remittances, knowledge transfer, investments and the establishment of new business relations. However, in reality, these benefits are often not – or only partially – realised; inadequate regulatory frameworks for mobility and integration lead to suboptimal results.
In the EU, badly managed migration may cause wage-dumping, a lack of efforts to increase the labour market participation of the domestic working-age population and a sceptical public opinion on migration as well as populist politicians exploiting and fuelling this scepticism. Migrants may not work commensurate to their qualifications. Moreover, they might suffer human rights violations through exploitation by corrupt employers or are even pushed into irregularity and the arms of traffickers, for instance, due to an absence of adequate legal migration channels. For countries of origin, negative effects of badly managed migration may include reduced development chances and a smaller pool of talents (brain drain)

In the years to come, migration pressures on the EU are likely to rise. According to UN calculations, in Africa, the working population will grow until 2050 by 910 million persons and, in Asia, by 517 million, while Europe will record a decline of 96 million. Migration pressures will also be augmented by urbanisation and economic development. That creates an urgency for policy-makers to realise the positive outcomes of migration and reduce policy failures that lead to harmful effects. What is needed, is an EU migration policy that is fair and sustainable and based on partnership with countries and regions of origin.The paper highlights three important challenges for tomorrow’s EU migration policy and proposes measures to deal with them: First, ensure a sustainable and fair labour migration policy which is purposefully designed to take into account the needs of the origin countries, as well as the needs of the migrant workers themselves – in addition to the needs of the immigration countries. Second, increase mobility of third country nationals to and within the EU with a focus on the EU’s close neighbours. Third and finally, change public opinion towards immigration by building a new discourse and promoting it through mainstream media.
BTTD 2015: Three challenges for tomorrow's EU migration policy: fairness, mobility and narratives. It is really very critical and urgent. Migration policy is one of the pillars of foreign policy and also a matter of reputation. A stronger focus on integration of policies, EU migration law, impact of EU policies in third countries.


The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its citizens. It entitles every EU citizen to travel, work and live in any EU country without special formalities. Schengen cooperation enhances this freedom by enabling citizens to cross internal borders without being subjected to border checks. The border-free Schengen Area guarantees free movement to more than 400 million EU citizens, as well as to many non-EU nationals, businessmen, tourists or other persons legally present on the EU territory.

The principle is one of the four basic freedoms of the EU and is at the very core of the European project. The right to move freely is one of the most tangible rights that EU citizens enjoy [2]. With 2013 being the European Year of Citizens, free movement and mobility of EU citizens deserve special attention. Studies show [3] that even if the mobility of EU citizens has slightly increased over time, it still remains a phenomenon which concerns only a minority of the population in the EU; around 3% of all EU citizens move to another Member State, the vast majority of whom move in order to seek employment in another part of the EU.

Studies also confirm that most intra-EU mobility is driven by economic and job-related reasons and not by motivation to benefit from or "abuse" the social system of another Member State [4].

The letter and the ensuing debate has the effect of undermining the free movement and ends up being a "name-and-shame" operation, indirectly targeting the citizens of all 2004 enlargement countries as well as countries in severe economic crisis and creating the impression of "second-tier" citizens. Whatever the economic context, the political motivations or the point in the electoral cycle when such a debate is started, it must not become a witch-hunt or a fig leaf, used inopportunely and irresponsibly. While discussion on intra-EU mobility is to be welcomed and any abuses dealt with, the angle should rather be on the opportunities presented by free movement for EU citizens and for the EU economy as a whole and the way labour mobility can help fill gaps and shortages in the employment market.
[1] Directive 2004/38 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, Regulation 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems; Regulation 492/2011 on freedom of movement of workers within the Union.
[2] TFEU Article 21(1) "Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaties and by the measures adopted to give them effect"
[3] See for example - EPC issue paper No. 75, May 2013, "Making Progress towards the completion of the Single European Labour market". See also the 2013 Citizenship Report drawn up by the European Commission, COM 2013 (269)


Values for Money. Vision E. Hirsch Ballin on migration issues (copyright foto: Joanette van der Mey, Sytwinde 62, 2631 GT Nootdorp.  tel. 015 256 95 51 or 06 83 24 82 62)

During the debate 'Values for Money' 14 October 2011, organised by the Clingendael Institute and Leiden University, discussion took place on migration. Ernst Hirsch Ballin indicated that, although it is thinkable to thwart, the phenomena of migration is normal and that it can be seen as positive, certainly on long term. One can learn something and inflow completes a shrinking population. In relation to this, a part from the State of the Union 2011 was quoted:

We should remember that our Europe is a Europe of citizens. As citizens, we all gain through Europe. We gain a European identity and citizenship apart from our national citizenship. European citizenship adds a set of rights and opportunities. The opportunity to freely cross borders, to study and work abroad. Here again, we must all stand up and preserve and develop these rights and opportunities. Just as the Commission is doing now with our proposals on Schengen. We will not tolerate a rolling back of our citizens' rights. We will defend the freedom of circulation and all the freedoms in our Union'. Integration should not be done wrong. Cooperation with the EU through a common asylum system is of eminent importance. Looking at the rules, till now in member-states many exceptions are present and different policies are put into effect.

Civil liberties, justice and home affairs are subjects for citizens' rights and constitutional affaires. The implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is of impact on EU Home Affairs and therefore also on agencies Frontex, Europol and the in June 2011 established European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on asylum and migration. This office supports the member-states in the asylum process and is a tool to achieve the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

The practice in the EU will be that for an applicant it does not matter where the asylum is requested. In each EU country the asylum seeker receives the same treatment and similar decision: either positive or negative. Through the office, the EU will be stronger in migration, concerning protection of refugees as well as the aspect that the EU draw one line to combat illegal migration.
Experts, united in EASO-teams, are active in
Greece, and is a structural support on asylum for the member-states referred, such as a common European traing for asylum officers. Mutual solidarity and trust is important and are fundamental to believe in Europe. An Europe with a more solid cooperation of countries, which will be in advance, including in the area of migration, is necessary in the present globalizing world. EU member-states have to give one response.

Immigrant Russia - a crisis of demography or ethnicity? (by Ben Judah - 26 Oct 10)

Hamid drives a clapped-out Soviet bus in a Russian mining colony beyond the Arctic Circle, where temperatures regularly plunge below minus forty. Yet this native of the Uzbek deserts has few regrets about his decision to migrate to Putin’s empire. “In my country there more men than jobs - In Russia there are more jobs than men.” He expresses himself in the faultless Russian of a Soviet education. “It’s easy for us to come and work here. The borders are not hard to cross, we speak the language and there are lots of people who can make you the permits.”Russia is now an immigrant society.

In Moscow and other major cities, migrants from the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe do the work that natives turn down. Tajiks sweep the streets, Moldovans wait tables and Uzbeks work on construction sites. The metro flutters with flyers stuck inside carriages hawking the mobile numbers of professional forgers -“We Make Your Moscow Permit.”Russia has become the second most popular destination for migrants in the world after the USA. In St. Petersburg hour long queues snake round the migration bureau where hundreds of migrants nervously swap cigarettes for job tips as they wait to register. Magadan on the Pacific has several Georgian restaurants and even on the dirt tracks of northern Siberia, Uzbek cafeterias are not uncommon.Visa-free regimes between Russia and most of her former colonies, along with the endemic corruption of her Gogolian officialdom, mean few bother with the hassle of formal immigration. Nor have many much intention of returning to their weak and mostly impoverished states for more than a holiday.

In 2009 the Russian Migration Service claims over 10 million migrants entered the country. They add that as many as 5 million illegals“are living in the shadows.” Many experts agree that the migrant population is over 8.5 million, although off the record, some diplomats suggest the real figure may be over 15 million. That would be roughly 8 million more workers that the 6.7 million drop that Russia has recorded since 1991.

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Relevance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in connection with fields of external border control and the management of migration (feelingeurope foundation)
Directorate-General for internal policies of the European Parliament devoted a study on citizens' rights and constitutional affairs, named 'Implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its Impact on EU Home Affairs Agencies Frontex, Europol and EASO.

The European Commission quite clearly sees a role for EUAA (European Union Agency for Asylum) in this difficult area. In the section on asylum (page 9), the working paper refers to EUAA's recent opening and states that:

"The Regulation...states in Article 3 that "The Support Office shall organise, promote and coordinate activities enabling the exchange of information and the identification and pooling of best practices in asylum matters between the Member States." This could in the future include best practices in the area of integration of beneficiaries of international protection."
EUAA can truly offer added value if it focuses on a "permanent support system" building on a "community of values".  To do this, the following key target areas are indentified:
  • Education, primarily through the Asylum Curriculum, to ensure a solid, basic and EU-wide common training for all asylum case-officers;
  • Common assessment of situations in countries of origin, in order to avoid disputes over factual situations by agreeing on situational elements;
  • Data analysis, statistics and research into the EU's asylum experiences, so that policies, measures and projects will be based on empirical evidence as opposed to possibly incorrect images.
But, France, Germany and Spain refuse plans by Brussels to limit their ability to reimpose borders within the European Union, amid growing tensions around the impact of migration into the bloc. The interior ministers of the three large European countries pre-emptively attacked a proposal set to be unveiled by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, which would put it in the driving seat when dealing with internal borders.


Following a rapid increase in migrants from north Africa as a result of political unrest in the Middle East, the EU’s 27 national leaders in June demanded a mechanism to temporarily resurrect internal borders, which were mostly abolished by the so-called Schengen agreement in 1995. They specifically requested an emergency measure allowing Europe to isolate countries which faced a rapid increase in illegal migration, amid an increasingly anti-migrant climate in parts of Europe. However, the Commission’s proposals would only allow member states to reinstate border controls for a maximum of days before they would have to seek authorisation from Brussels. Member states have repeatedly said they would resist any interference from the EU when it comes to managing their own borders in times of crises.

“The member states have the political responsibility for maintaining public order and protecting internal security,” the interior ministers said in their statement. “We believe that respecting the core area of national sovereignty is very important to member states. We therefore do not share the European Commission’s views on assuming responsibility for making decisions on operational measures in the security field.”

The adverse reaction was largely expected from France, whose president originally called for the new mechanism on reinstating borders. The French interior minister, this week highlighted an increase in crime linked to Romanian migrants as he proposed to ban begging on the Champs-Elysées, Paris’s most famous throughway.

The Open Society Institute in Brussels, said the rise of anti-migrant parties in many EU member states made the Commission’s proposal to limit national governments’ powers in border issues politically difficult.

“The zeitgeist has changed since the days when the EU created Schengen. Law and order populism is on the rise in many member states,” she said. “The risk is that citizens won’t realise that the benefits the EU brought them – like freedom of movement and protection from discrimination – are being eroded until it’s too late."

The new rules governing Schengen will also have to be approved by the European parliament, whose main political parties have warmly endorsed the Commission’s stance giving Europe more power. EU countries can currently reimpose internal borders in foreseen events such as for large-scale international summits or football matches, or in the aftermath of a security incident such as July’s terrorist attack in Norway. But there is currently no mechanism to reimpose borders to combat migration.

To make further coherence, national points of view are of added value. Can Europe manage migration? And should member states strive for more accurate common policy in this area? Member-states launches their own proposals for asylum. Restrictive immigration policy is not an exception.

An application for granting a residence permit is granted only if international obligations so require, or the presence of the alien is of essential national interest, or compelled by humanitarian reasons.

The international obligations are related to the Stockholm Programme 2010-2014, to EU-law and human rights charters. Through the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and became the Charter of Fundamental Rights binding. The Court has just ruled to put restraint on the criminalization of illegal stay.

By developing all kind of measures, member-states want to realize a much substantial decrease of inflows concerning asylum and migration. In this connection, international obligations should become more individual through adjustment of EU-regulation and possibly through adjustment of treaties. However, standards underlying these treaties are also relevant in present times. Restriction of inflow is feasable, but ambitions will encounter the directive on family reunification, the right to family life and the prohibition of (gay) discrimination.

Furthermore, there are recent rulings by the Court of Justice on family reunification, child care for the failed asylum seekers in Greece (and the obligation for other countries to jump in for other countries) and the Union's citizenship that also applies to younger children.

Through the observation that human rights record minimum standards (of decency), two propositions can be of importance:

  • EU-law and human rights treaties are the starting points to execute a restrictive aliens policy;
  • the EU will loose its meaning if solidarity and sense of community will exchange to fear ruled by individual member-states.
If a member-state want to be busy putting a calendar on asylum policy, a solid comprehensive analysis, together with a compelling logic is necessary to adapt EU regulation. After all, the EU calendar is filled and to affect policy takes always time. That's why one has to be selective. The European Commssion is a central player. She has the exclusive right of initiative and will do so if it is in the interest of the EU.
Following the logic of the Commission, content related to a solid actual ground, is vital and let increase the chance to succeed proposals. Legitimate refugees have to be received. On that there is consensus. But not everybody has asylum-right. Criminalization of illegal stay concerns the proportionality of the punishment.
There are political parties that want to step out the ECHR. There are also serious differences between member-states. Governments are of the opinion that a European Asylum policy is necessary, together with a common concern for the external borders. At the moment there are holes between Greece (the country has no expertise in the subject) and Türkiye. Moreover, the Greeks make a mess of their obligation to provide human care. Italy, high on the agenda, uses strange tricks; instead of sending people back to Tunesia (the nationals accept citizens'return). Poland has no pending asylum applications, but let the people travel to other member-states.

Other aspects of attention are no re-introduction of border-control within the EU, but common action on outside borders and a common European Asylum system. To do nothing is not an option. Agreements on finance are also part of the policy. Furthermore, attention for negative aspects due to labour- migration is necessary. Europe can solve problems. But can member-states handle Europe? Member-states are not yet prepared to solve each other problems, in spite of the fact that these countries are committed to existing EU-rules. However, there is margin in conceptions (Finland, UK and Switzerland) to adapt EU-rules. But is it acceptable when some member-states treat jobless and / or homeless migrants from other member-states not in a same way? Countries together make the EU and it is about our rules, which are not sacred, but exist to serve. On 24 June 2011 The European Council agreed upon a construction of exception in the Lisbon Treaty. If a critic situation occur, a specific mechanism has to offer the possibility to establish temporary border-controls again.