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Treatment of third country nationals at EU's external borders

The project examines the treatment of third-country nationals at the external borders of the European Union in light of the existing fundamental rights framework. Two specific situations are taken into consideration: (1) treatment of third country nationals on the Southern maritime borders of the European Union (Phase I) and (2) treatment of third country nationals at selected land and airport border crossing points (Phase 2). The geographical scope of the research in Phase 1 covers 7 maritime border sectors in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain; while in Phase 2 - eleven border crossing points at the external Schengen border, including six land border crossing points (BCPs between Bulgaria and Turkey, between Greece and Turkey, between Slovakia and Ukraine, between Hungary and Serbia, between Poland and Ukraine and between Spain and Morocco, and five border crossing points at selected airports (Paris C.d.Gaulle, Amsterdam/Schiphol, Rome/ Fiumicino, Frankfurt and Manchester).

Phase 1 (Maritime borders)
• to examine challenges that emerge during interception and rescue at sea and immediately after disembarkation of migrants
• to enhance the protection of fundamental rights during rescue or interception operations at sea, by supporting those in charge of border management to deal with the fundamental rights challenges they may encounter on a daily basis.

In Phase 1 the study is based on qualitative research with third country nationals, authorities, fishermen and shipmasters, non-participant observation at maritime borders, and focus group interviews with stakeholder groups, both in EU and third countries.

Phase 2 (Land and airport border crossing points)
to review existing procedures and practices in order to identify whether third-country nationals are treated in accordance with applicable fundamental rights standards (complementation of the Schengen Evaluation system)
 to review if commitments related to the Schengen Borders Code (respect for human dignity, non-refoulement, non-discriminatory conduct) are respected during first and second line border checks as well as in facilities used for persons refused admission.

In Phase 2 the study is based on non-participant observation at border crossing points, quantitative and qualitative research with third country nationals, and interviews with civil society actors.

Maritime border research
Empirical case studies (phase 1)
• 7 case studies of maritime border sectors
• 5 sets of country fact sheets (maritime borders), covering 7 themes
• Comparative report of fundamental rights challenges relating to surveillance and control of maritime borders
Human rights training related to rescue and interception at sea
• 5 country reports on Fundamental Rights training
• Recommendations for training of border guards

Land and air border research
• 11 case studies of border crossing points
• 9 sets of country fact sheets on 4 themes
• Comparative report on border crossing points

Project duration: 2010–2012
Funding: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
Project coordination: Albert Kraler (ICMPD)

Project partners: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP); Observatorio de Inmigración en Tenerife (OBITEN) at the Universidad la Laguna; Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerche sull’Immigrazione (FIERI); European University Institute (EUI); Groupe d’études sur l’Ethnicité, le Racisme, les Migrations et l’Exclusion, (Germe) at the  Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)



Comparative Reports:

Fundamental Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014): Fundamental rights at land borders: findings from selected European Union border crossing points

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014): Fundamental rights at airports: border checks at five international airports in the European Union.
Link to the full report and summary

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2013): Fundamental rights at Europe's southern sea borders.
Link to the full report and summary

Related Publication:

Maegan Hendow (2013): Tunisian Migrant Journeys: Human Rights Concerns for Tunisians Arriving by Sea. Laws 2, no. 3: 187-209.


Related Workshop at the 10th Annual IMISCOE Conference:
"Transformations of border control: The politics of (im)mobility in times of crisis"

26-27 August 2013, Malmö, Sweden

Download the Call for Papers and the full description of the workshop.

More information at the IMISCOE website here.