We are all in the same boat! On the legal principle of solidarity and its legal implications in the recent CJEU case law

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by Alessandra Silveira, Editor

The Opinion of the Advocate-General Eleanor Sharpston in the joined cases C-715/17, C‑718/17 and C‑719/17 (delivered on 31 October 2019) concluded by recalling an old story from the Jewish tradition that deserves wider circulation – particularly in times of COVID-19 pandemic. A group of men are travelling together in a boat. Suddenly, one of them takes out an auger and starts to bore a hole in the hull beneath himself. His companions remonstrate with him. ‘Why are you doing that?’ they cry. ‘What are you complaining about?’ says he. ‘Am I not drilling the hole under my own seat?’ ‘Yes,’ they reply, ‘but the water will come in and flood the boat for all of us’ (paragraph 255).

The story is recalled by the Advocate-General regarding the principle of solidarity provided in Article 80 TFEU: “The policies of the Union set out in this Chapter [‘Policies on border checks, asylum and immigration’] and their implementation shall be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the Member States. Wherever necessary, Union acts adopted pursuant to this Chapter shall contain appropriate measures to give effect to this principle”.

On this principle – which requires all Member States – the Advocate-General stated that “respecting the ‘rules of the club’ and playing one’s proper part in solidarity with fellow Europeans cannot be based on a penny-pinching cost-benefit analysis along the lines (familiar, alas, from Brexiteer rhetoric) of ‘what precisely does the EU cost me per week and what exactly do I personally get out of it?’ Such self-centredness is a betrayal of the founding fathers’ vision for a peaceful and prosperous continent. It is the antithesis of being a loyal Member State and being worthy, as an individual, of shared European citizenship. If the European project is to prosper and go forward, we must all do better than that” (paragraph 254 of the Opinion).
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Editorial of April 2016

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by Emília Castro, Researcher at Faculty of Law, Universität Hamburg

The EU-Turkey deal and the migration crisis – or how far refugees are from an equal and dignified treatment

The ever-increasing flow of people around the globe is an unarguable consequence of the globalization process, which we have undergone, mainly as of the twentieth century. However, the world seems to have been drawing its attention to the movement of people around the globe not in the very last century, but mostly in the last two years. The nowadays called “migration crisis” has been showing the international society how difficult it is to struggle against some dire situations some people experience in their home countries.

Mainly because of its strong economy and its tradition of human rights, the European Union has been figuring as the main destination of refugees: more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015 – and there are no signs these numbers are reducing in 2016.

In March 2016, however, the European Union seemed to have taken a step back on refugees’ Human Rights protection. The EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan was put into practice on March 20th  for the sake of managing the refugee crisis. In a nutshell, some of the main aspects of this deal (called by the EU as “principles”) consider[i]:

1) The return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands with the costs covered by the European Union;

2) The resettlement of Syrian nationals: for every irregular Syrian returned from the Greek islands and readmitted by Turkey, another regular Syrian will be resettled to the EU Member States directly from Turkey. In order to achieve this goal, EU Member States should make a sufficient number of resettlement places available.

Some principles of this Joint Action Plan draw Turkey and the EU together. In compensation for the return and resettlement scheme – and apart from the obviously needed disbursement of funds under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, which will be sped up – the Commission and Member States are working on advancing the accession negotiations with Turkey. Moreover, by the end of April 2016, the European Commission should make a legislative proposal to lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens who want to enter the EU territory.

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