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(en) Ireland, WSM, What's wrong with the EU - Fortress Europe Increased integration of EU asylum and immigration policy

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 8 May 2004 11:37:01 +0200 (CEST)

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Over the last 15 years or so EU states have been gradually
increasing cooperation and attempting to establish common
policy and law on areas related to immigration and asylum.
Successive agreements, treaties and 'action plans' have led to the
creation of Fortress Europe, causing thousands of deaths of
refugees and asylum seekers and as well as criminalizing and
marginalizing immigrants within the EU.
One of the first steps towards the creation of Fortress Europe was
the Schengen Agreement which was originally signed in 1985 by
five EU states (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the
Netherlands) to eliminate border control between those countries
and to establish a common visa policy. The agreement was said
to be about the freedom of movement over the internal borders
between the Schengen countries however in order to
"compensate" for increased freedom of movement within the
Schengen area, much of the agreement was about increased
control of travellers coming in. Common rules regarding visas,
asylum rights and checks at external borders were adopted and
coordination of the police, customs and the judiciary was
increased. In fact while just four articles in the convention are
about open borders, 138 are about increased control (1). Little by
little the Schengen area has been extended to include almost
every Member State, with the exception of the United Kingdom
and Ireland.

As part of the "compensatory measures" of the Schengen
agreement, designed to negate the freedom of travel within the
Schengen area, the Schengen Information System (SIS) was set
up. This vast database system, housed in Strasburg, is comprised
of records on people's identities as well as lost or stolen objects,
which are entered by Schengen member states and which are
then accessed by the other state agencies. At the end of 2001
there were 10,541,271 records held on the SIS (2). A large
number of the people listed in the SIS files so far have been
asylum seekers.

In May 1999, the Schengen agreement was incorporated within
the legal and institutional framework of the EU in the Treaty of
Amsterdam. This treaty sought to regularise the treatment of
asylum seekers and refugees trying to gain entry to all European
states and required the European Council to adopt legislation in
several key asylum and immigration related areas by May, 2004.
The Treaty of Amsterdam was also the first time that refugees
and asylum seekers were specifically criminalised - this position
has continued from the EU, governments and the media where
asylum seekers are termed 'illegal immigrants' and roped in with
child pornography, stolen vehicles, terrorism, counter fitting and
drug offences.

Subsequent EU summits on asylum and immigration, such as in
Tampere and Seville, have attempted to come to agreements on
common EU immigration and asylum law before the deadline in
May. At these summits agreements have been made which
generally make it increasingly difficult and dangerous for refugees
and asylum seekers to gain entry to the EU and which increase
cooperation on the surveillance, harassment and deportation of
"illegal" immigrants. On 29th of March this year, for example,
the EU justice and home affairs council met to examine various
directives relating to asylum seekers and refugees including one
on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data and
the proposal for a European Agency for the management of
operational cooperation of external borders. Following this
meeting, leading EU NGOs called for the complete withdrawal of
the directive on minimum standards on procedures for granting
and withdrawing refugee status, which they state is "intended to
deny asylum seekers access to asylum procedures and to facilitate
their transfer to countries outside the EU." (5)

Death by Policy

One EU policy is the containment of refugees and migrants
within their home regions, regardless of the human cost One of
the strategies to achieve this has been to target migrants' country
of origin and force their governments to cooperate in "migrant
management". For example, in the recent EU summit in Seville it
was agreed that in future all EU agreements with non-EU states
are to: "include a clause on joint management of migration flows
and on compulsory readmission in the event of illegal
immigration" (para.33). This is to include those who are
"unlawfully present" in the EU, e.g.: own nationals of the third
country and people who may have passed through the third
country in transit. "In the event" that there is an: "unjustified lack
of cooperation" in joint management of migration flows, the EU
may apply direct pressure through agreements on trade, aid and
assistance coupled with political and diplomatic sanctions.(3)

Other steps taken to make it as difficult as possible for migrants
to enter EU countries have been the drive towards increased
security at external borders. At the Seville summit it was agreed
to establish, possibly within the next five years, an EU border
police force (to be called the European Union Corps of Border
Guards) to patrol shores, ports and crossing points against
"illegal" immigrants. This EU police force would have its own
uniform and badge and be drawn from all 15 member states. As a
step towards this, cooperation among the police and immigration
units of member states is to be increased immediately with the
creation of a special unit of heads of border control from member
states and the setting up of a network of liaison officers.

Thousands of people have died so far because of EU policies such
as these. According to UNITED, a European anti-racist network,
from 1993 to 2001 more than 2000 refugees and migrants died in
and around as a result of European refugee policies. Details of the
2042 cases are available from their website
(http://www.united.non-profit.nl/pages/List.htm). Anti Racist
Initiative Berlin also published a report documenting deaths and
injuries of refugees, in more than 3,400 individual cases, that
resulted directly and indirectly from Germany's refugee policy (4).
They record for example that 121 refugees had killed themselves
in the face of their pending deportation or died in the attempt to
flee their deportation; 47 of these people died in deportation

Increased Internal Policing/Intelligence

With regards EU asylum and immigration policy inside the EU,
the focus has been on increased surveillance, racist harassment
and control. The 1988 "Strategy Paper on Asylum and
Immigration Policy" presented by the then Austrian EU
presidency stated that control must cover "every step taken by a
third country national from the time he begins his journey to the
time he reaches his destination". The paper outlines clearly the
extent to which non-EU nationals are to be harassed and spied
upon, it recommends "security nets in areas whose geographic or
transport characteristics mean that they are particularly exposed,
spot checks in the hinterland, unprompted by suspicion, and
intensive cooperation on the part of the authorities beyond the
sphere of competence of the individual State".

Increasingly draconian measures are being taken to increase
police powers of surveillance. Since S11 there has been a drive to
extend the Schengen Information System and set up two new
databases one dealing specifically with protesters and the other
dealing with "foreigners". The aim is to facilitate the removal of
third country nationals who have not left the EU with the
"prescribed time frame". This database would be in effect a
register of all third country nationals in the EU who will be tagged
with an "alert" if they overstay their visa or residence permit.

It is EU policy to treat asylum seekers and refugees as criminals.
For example, in 2000 the proposal for a system for the
identification of asylum seekers (EURODAC) which involves
taking and comparing fingerprints of asylum-seekers, was
formally adopted by the European Council.

Why Fortress Europe?

No matter how tight controls at EU borders are, immigration to
the EU is inevitable and people fleeing persecution, war and
poverty, will continue to risk their lives trying to get into the EU
zone. However, by maintaining strict control over migration into
the EU and by turning down the vast majority of asylum requests,
thousands of immigrants are forced to live in Europe illegally.
This creates a workforce that will accept the most insecure
working conditions together with the worst salaries and
conditions. Entire sections of the EU economy base their profits
on the exploitation of these people: building companies,
restaurants, textiles, agriculture, etc. Illegal workers are a
workforce that can be easily controlled and which, against their
will, can put pressure on fellow insecure workers. Where
immigrants are granted work permits, they are often on short
term contracts, with their work permits held by their employers,
so they can be subjected to super-exploitation.

Fortress Europe has other advantages for the European bosses. It
acts as a wall, keeping people into the areas of the world where
working conditions, humans rights etc are poor. Although the
European bosses do not want to allow immigrants to enter
Europe they do want access to these same people as cheap
labour. For example, the EU is continuing the exploitation of the
people of North Africa through creating a special trade zone of
some of the North African countries similar to the free trades
zones North America has created in Mexico. In Ireland this has
been most visible with 'Fruit of the Loom' closing plants in the
north west of Ireland and opening new plants in Morocco where
workers are paid one seventh of what the (low paid) Irish workers
were paid.

Finally, racist EU policies and propaganda which marginalize
immigrants and portray them as a social, political and economic
threats create useful scapegoats for European bosses. The ruling
class wants to set Irish workers against immigrant workers so as
to prevent the workers from seeing that their interests are the
same regardless of nationality. Take for example the upcoming
referendum which attempts to take away the rights of Irish
children whose parents do not have Irish citizenship. In calling
this racist referendum the Irish government intend to deflect the
current anger of the population at, for example, the crises in our
health service and the appalling housing situation. It suits the
Irish elite to scapegoat refugees for all the problems that their
mismanagement of society causes. The minister for injustice, Mc
Dowell, has been caught several times blatantly lying and creating
scare stories about immigration. He has spoken of "citizenship
tourism", of "massive inflows" of non-nationals to the maternity
hospitals, of the situation "snowballing out of control", and of the
Masters of the Dublin hospitals "pleading" with him to change
the laws on citizenship. None of this is really true. The Masters
themselves have accused the Minister of exaggeration, and the
figures bear them out. Take the Coombe Hospital, for example.
The increase in non-national births last year was just 2 per cent.
As with the other Dublin hospitals, a major portion of its 20 per
cent of foreign mothers were living and working in Ireland
entirely legally, with many from Britain and other EU countries,
and the US.

They are among the growing number of immigrants on which
this country is becoming vitally dependent for its economic
survival, now and into the future. In the overall context of
Ireland's rapidly declining birth rate, our society has no choice but
to change or die.

No borders

Immigration controls are by their nature racist in that they always
aim to exclude particular distinct groups. They cause massive
suffering, cost billions and promote racism. It is completely
unjust that there are more travel rights for Capital, bank accounts
and commodities than for people.

As anarchists, our opposition to the immigration restrictions of
Fortress Europe is based on the recognition that immigration is a
phenomenon produced by Capitalist globalisation that makes life
unbearable in many areas of the world. It is based on our
recognition that every human being has the same right to
happiness, to the opportunities and good things of life no matter
what their skin colour or place of origin.

Deirdre Hogan (updated 2004)

(1) "EU Charter Gives Cops Greater Powers",

(2) "SIS II takes ominous shape "

(3) "EU Presidency Conclusions at the Seville European Council
21/22 June"



copied from http://struggle.ws/wsm/pamphlets/eu/
Part of the pages of the
Workers Solidarity Movement

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