In light of recent allegations of pushbacks at the EU’s external borders, the S&D Group will improve a Commission proposal for new EU screening rules by strengthening a fundamental rights mechanism so that it also monitors border surveillance practices and investigates all violations of human rights.
As part of broader asylum reform in the Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission last year proposed rules for a new screening procedure for people entering the EU irregularly.
The S&D negotiator for the Parliament on the screening file, Birgit Sippel, today presented amendments to the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee. As well as upgrading the independent monitoring mechanism, S&D proposals aim to stop the screening procedure leading to any systematic detention and include mandatory health and vulnerability checks for all third-country nationals entering irregularly.
Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson for home affairs and rapporteur on the screening report, said:
“The majority of the allegations around rights abuses that come to light take place during border surveillance but still we lack proper oversight at the borders. Without extending the scope to include border surveillance, the effectiveness of the Commission’s proposed mechanism would be seriously undermined. A fully independent mechanism, that also involves NGOs, would represent a milestone in how we deal with allegations of fundamental rights abuses at our external borders and would mark an important step towards EU border management that is both effective, efficient and compliant with all relevant EU laws and international obligations.
“Moreover, we must not allow the screening procedure to lead to any cruel and arbitrary detention for people seeking international protection. This is not in line with our values and it is not in line with our laws. That is why I have introduced amendments to ensure the Reception Conditions Directive applies from the moment an application is made and rights including adequate reception conditions and health care are protected.
“Finally, we support identity and security checks of relevant databases and want mandatory health and vulnerability checks introduced in screening so that special reception and procedural needs are flagged as early as possible. This will prevent any errors when it comes to referring applicants to the next steps in the asylum procedure and is the only way to guarantee that vulnerable people receive all the support they need.”