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Greens/EFA launches petition to freeze funds to EU members committing illegal pushbacks

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The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), a European Parliament group comprising primarily green and regionalist political parties, has launched a petition urging the European Commission to freeze funds to European Union member states that fail to comply with the EU law on asylum rights and migrant pushbacks.

The Greens/EFA petition, which had gathered more than 13,000 signatures as of Oct. 13, says that people fleeing from war or persecution have a right to request asylum in the EU, stressing that tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been pushed back at Europe’s borders in past years in violation of this right, at times with the help of Europe’s border agency Frontex.

“These illegal actions of EU countries such as Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Spain involve threats, physical violence, assault and abuse during detention or transportation. Migrants are being left to die on their boats or thrown into the sea, handcuffed. Thousands have died as a result and many more are excluded from access to an asylum procedure, where their reasons to request protection should be properly assessed,” the petition said.

According to the petition, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, grants financial support to countries that engage in these practices through European migration funds instead of taking them to the EU Court of Justice.

“This has to stop. No EU money should fund these extreme human rights violations at our borders,” the petition said.

According to data collected by The Guardian based on reports from United Nations agencies as well as the databases of civil society organizations, European countries pushed back 40,000 migrants, forcibly in most cases, between January 2020 and May 2021 alone, and more than 2,000 migrants died during these pushbacks.

“The Greens/EFA urgently call on the commission, especially Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, to freeze funds to countries that are performing pushbacks and make the new migration funds conditional to human rights compliance,” the petition read.

The Greens/EFA commissioned an in-depth legal study about the conditions they want established with regard to the EU funds.

According to the study, conducted by Jorrit Rijpma, a professor of European Law at Leiden University, and Apostolis Fotiadis, a freelance researcher based in Athens, the European Commission has to do a mid-term evaluation for the Asylum and Migration Fund (AMIF), the Internal Security Fund (ISF) and the Border Management and Visa Instrument Fund (BMVI) by March 2024.

Following the mid-term review, the European Commission will provide additional funding to adjust allocations to Member State programs. These are EUR 1,045,000,000 for AMIF, EUR 225,000,000 for ISF and EUR 611,000,000 for BMVI.

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