- The Commission has proposed visa-free access for 76 million Turkish citizens to the Schengen Area, creating a visa-free zone from the English Channel to the borders of the warzones of Syria and Iraq.
- This is part of an ‘accelerated’ move towards Turkish accession to the EU, which the UK is paying £1.8 billion to facilitate.
- The Commission has also proposed visa-free access for Kosovo.
- The Commission refuses to address the root cause of the crisis, the EU’s dangerous Schengen system.
- The Commission has today said that ‘Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union’.
- Due to the EU migrant crisis, there are just two Border Force cutters protecting the UK’s borders at the present time.
- Despite Government claims, the Dublin Regulation does not work in the UK’s interests (allowing for the removal of just 1% of asylum seekers). The EU retains the right to end the UK’s participation in the Dublin regulation after the referendum.
- The European Court will remain in control of the UK’s asylum policy if the UK votes to stay in the EU.
The deal with Turkey and proposals to revive Schengen
The European Commission has proposed to give visa free access to the Schengen Area to 76 million Turkish citizens as part of its plan for Turkey to join the EU. The UK is already paying nearly £2 billion to facilitate further accessions.
The Commission ‘is today proposing to the European Parliament and Council of the European Union to lift the visa requirements for the citizens of Turkey’.
This is despite the Commission’s acknowledgement that that implementation of some of the benchmarks by Turkey has been ‘impossible‘, including the ‘fight against corruption, data protection, judicial cooperation with all Member States, enhanced cooperation with EUROPOL and revision of the legislation and practices on terrorism’. This amounts to 10% (5 out of 72) of the benchmarks.
The Commission states that ‘the accession process will be re-energised, with Chapter 33 to be opened during the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union and preparatory work on the opening of other chapters to continue at an accelerated pace’.
Between 2014 and 2021, the UK will pay over £1.8 billion to facilitate the accession of candidate countries to the EU. This will mean a population of Turkey, 75.9 million in 2014, will have access to the NHS and other amenities.
This will increase pressure on the UK’s borders. The EU’s own Frontex report has noted that: ‘The number of persons aiming to get to the UK with fraudulent document significantly increased (+70%) compared to 2014. This trend is mostly attributable to the increasing number of Albanian nationals often misusing Italian and Greek ID cards followed by Ukrainian nationals abusing authentic Polish ID cards’.
The Commission has also proposed Kosovo be given visa free access.
The Commission is ‘today proposing to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift the visa requirements for the people of Kosovo by transferring Kosovo to the visa-free list for short-stays in the Schengen area’.
Kosovo has around 260,000 unregistered firearms (one for every six Kosovars), and ‘has for decades been one of the major distribution centres of narcotics entering Europe via the Balkan route’. The Foreign Policy Journal has described it as a ‘nest of crime fugitives in Europe‘.
Kosovo also has the highest unemployment rate of any EU enlargement country.
The real cause of the crisis is the Schengen system but the EU is determined to maintain that at any cost to prop up the failing single currency.
The Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos has said: ‘Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union, and our unchanged ultimate ambition is to restore normality in the Schengen area’.
The Vice President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans said ‘We have a clear roadmap to return to a normal functioning of the Schengen zone by November and we need to get there in an orderly way. We preserve Schengen by applying Schengen‘. If there ever was a demonstration of insanity, Timmermans words would be it.
The President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said: ‘If the spirit of Schengen leaves our lands and our hearts, we will lose more than Schengen. A single currency makes no sense if Schengen falls. It is one of the keystones of European construction. The Schengen system is partially comatose. Those who believe in Europe and its values, in its principles and freedoms must try – and try they will – to reanimate the Schengen spirit’.
The former Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald K Noble, has said the Schengen system ‘is effectively an international passport-free zone for terrorists to execute attacks on the Continent and make their escape… Leading up to these latest attacks, none of those countries systematically screened passports or verified the identities of those crossing borders by land or at seaports or airports. This is like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe. And they have been accepting the invitation’.
There are just two Border Force cutters protecting the UK’s borders from illegal entry because of the EU migrant crisis. This leaves the UK border vulnerable.
On 7 March 2016, the Government announced that the ‘the cutter Protector’ and ‘and a further Border Force cutter’ will be deployed to the Aegean Sea from the end of this month. This means that 40% of the UK’s border protection fleet will not be protecting British waters.
The Government has previously admitted that of the five cutters, ‘only four are operational at any one time, [with] the fifth undergoing refitting and refurbishment’. This means that there are just 2 cutters, or 40% of the UK’s fleet, currently protecting our border.
This Government has not secured the continuation of the UK’s participation in the Dublin Regulation.
The UK can choose whether or not to opt into the proposed changes. It chose to opt into the Dublin Regulation. EU asylum measures are adopted under Title V of Part 3 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. The UK is not bound by measures adopted under Title V unless it chooses to opt in. The UK opted into the Dublin Regulation when it was ‘recast’ in 2013.
If the EU Council determines that the UK’s continued participation in Dublin would render the new proposals inoperable, it may exclude the UK from Dublin with ‘financial consequences’. Where proposals to amend a Title V measure to which the UK has opted in are made, the UK has a veto. However, ‘in cases where the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, determines that the non-participation of the United Kingdom … in the amended version of an existing measure makes the application of that measure inoperable for other Member States or the Union’, the UK must opt in, or ‘the existing measure shall no longer be binding upon or applicable to it’. The Council of Ministers can impose ‘financial consequences‘ on the UK which are ‘necessarily and unavoidably incurred as a result of the cessation of its participation in the existing measure’.
The proposal contemplates the exclusion of the UK from the Dublin Regulation. The text of the proposal notes that: ‘The participation of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark in the arrangements laid down in this proposal recasting Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 will be determined in the course of negotiations in accordance with these Protocols’. It explicitly notes that the UK must ensure ‘the operability’ of the new system.
Experts in EU law have suggested the UK could be excluded. Professor Steve Peers of the University of Essex has predicted that if a ‘complete overhaul’ of the Dublin regulation is introduced, this is ‘likely to trigger’ the exclusion of the UK from Dublin III.
MEPs will not accept a new system based on the country of origin principle. The European Parliament’s Dublin rapporteur, Cecilia Wikström MEP, has said: ‘The country of first arrival criteria should be removed from the Dublin regulation and replaced with a fair and mandatory distribution mechanism between Member States, using a formula based on population, wealth and reception capabilities’.
The Dublin Regulation does not work in the UK’s interests and gives up control to the European Court. Remaining subject to the Dublin Regulation would not be a victory for the UK.
The Dublin Regulation allows for the removal of just 1% of asylum seekers.
The European Court is in charge of our asylum policy. Opting into the Dublin Regulation nonetheless means giving up control of the UK’s asylum system to the European Court of Justice because the UK has also opted into several further directives on who constitutes a refugee, how they must be processed and the how they must be treated. Along with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, these prevent the UK from adopting its own asylum policy and mean the European Court is in charge of interpreting the key 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
The only way to have an independent asylum policy is to Vote Leave. This will give us much greater flexibility in how we deal with asylum claims.
The Dublin Regulation can result in the UK being forced to accept EU asylum seekers.
In January 2016, Mr Justice McCloskey ordered migrants at Calais to be admitted to the UK to claim asylum. The Tribunal ordered that: ‘the Secretary of State shall admit each Applicant to the United Kingdom with a view to determining the applications under the provisions of the Dublin Regulation’.
David Cameron used to oppose the European Court’s powers over asylum, but none of this changed during the renegotiation.
In January 2008, the Conservative Party tabled an amendment to the Bill ratifying the Lisbon Treaty to exclude the European Court’s jurisdiction over asylum. It was signed by William Hague, Nick Herbert and Dominic Grieve.
Nonetheless, altering the European Court’s control of our asylum policy did not form part of the renegotiation.
Even the European Commission has acknowledged that the Dublin system does not work.
The Commission has admitted that: ‘Even where Member States accept transfer requests, only about a quarter of such cases result in effective transfers, and, after completion of a transfer, there are frequent cases of secondary movements back to the transferring Member State‘.
It notes that: ‘The effective suspension of Dublin transfers to Greece since 2011 has proved a particularly critical weakness in the system, in particular given the large number of migrants arriving in Greece in recent months’. This is the result of a ruling of the European Court which held the Charter of Fundamental Rights could be used to prevent transfers to other member states.
The Commission has noted that ‘the Dublin system was not designed to ensure a sustainable sharing of responsibility for asylum applicants across the EU, a shortcoming that has been highlighted by the current crisis’.
It notes that there has been ‘an increasing disregard of EU rules‘ in recent years.
If we vote to stay we will pay even more in, hand more power over and face the prospect of greater pressure on our borders. The safe option is to Vote Leave on 23 June.