Migration is not a new phenomenon in the EU. It has happened for decades but it has been intensified in the last years due to instability in some countries, especially in Middle East and North Africa, but also in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that there has been an increase in the number of migrants (including refugees) trying to enter the Member States, thus EU Member States are now dealing with migrant pressures on a regular basis. EUROSTAT’s data regarding migrants who have asked for asylum in the 28 Member States shows that in 2016, the number of asylum seekers was 1.3 million persons. We have to add to this amount those economic migrants who do not apply for asylum (according to the EU Agency FRONTEX, only in July 2017 “there were 15 400 detections of illegal border crossings on the four main migratory routes into the EU”.
There is not only a difficulty in managing the huge flows of migrants but also in ensuring protection of their fundamental rights. That protection is not only necessary regarding health and food but also regarding legal security that the migrants can claim under international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Migrants and asylum seekers (regardless whether they are refugees or not) also have rights protected under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is therefore of crucial importance to have, in the EU, lawyers properly trained on immigration and asylum issues deriving from the Charter. This necessity is even more important when the migrants are unaccompanied minors. In this sense, the conclusions of the Council of the EU on the protection of children in migration of 8 June 2017 recognised the dramatic increase in the number of children in migration arriving to the EU (many of whom are unaccompanied) and invited Member States to take actions in order to protect children at all stages of migration. Last but not least, the situation in all Member States differ dramatically. Obviously, the Mediterranean Member States are more exposed to the migration fluxes and therefore the pressure is bigger in such countries. This is certainly a challenge as the governments of these countries have outlined many times but this also creates an opportunity to extract good practices that can be extrapolated to the work the lawyers do across Europe when dealing with migrants.
In 2015 and 2016, the European Lawyers Foundation (ELF) together with the Bars and Law Societies of 5 Member States were awarded by DG Justice the TRALIM project (referred in this proposal as TRALIM 1). This project, which aimed to train 130 lawyers on the EU relating to asylum and immigration ended up training 150 lawyers, something that shows the fact that lawyers are interested in receiving training in this particular area. Therefore, the current situation can be wrapped up as a scenario where there are big needs but where solutions are available and collective (lawyers in our case) are willing to take it part of responsibility.
Needs that the project aims to address
The EU is constituted as an area of freedom, security and justice. This means that, independently on how big the migratory fluxes are, the EU needs to answer from a perspective based in the respect of the fundamental rights of the migrants. This means that there are millions of migrants that are in a need to have their rights defended through the provision of proper legal support. Indeed, this help can only be provided if there are lawyers specifically trained on European law that applies to these cases (cases affecting immigrants in a broad sense and cases affecting unaccompanied migrant minors). Since immigration towards Europe is a phenomenon that will persist in time, the needs of migrants will persist in time too. Consequently, the results of our project are not short-term ones but are designed to also persist in time: the results are expected to continue consolidating the solid training of lawyers on the EU law that is related to the needs of migrants that was initiated by the project TRALIM 1.
However, this project also answers another important need: the necessity of having lawyers from EU Member States trained in EU law as underlined in the “Study on the state of play of lawyers training in EU Law” (Recommendation 6 on improving quality and relevance of training activities on EU Law, Recommendation 15 on online access to EU Law training materials and information and Recommendation 20 on presentation of EU Law content in training activities).
Major objectives to be attained
- Training of 600 lawyers through the holding of seminars on the EU relating to immigration and asylum (TRALIM seminars: 390 lawyers to be trained), seminars the EU relating to unaccompanied migrant minors (TRAUMA seminars: 180 lawyers to be trained) and through short stays in immigration’s hotspots in Greece, Italy and Spain (30 lawyers to be trained).
- To facilitate networking opportunities to those lawyers participating in the seminars and between the lawyers participating in the short-stays and the local lawyers in the hotspots so they will be able to collaborate further on immigration and asylum issues.
- To make available training content related to the project’s activities in the European Lawyers Foundation’s website so it is accessible to the lawyers participating in the project’s activities but also to other lawyers that work in issues related to immigration and who can find relevant material for their work in the ELF’s website.
- To distribute to 600 lawyers participating in the seminars the equivalent number of hard copies of the “Handbook on European law relating to asylum, border and immigration” and the “European legal and policy framework on immigration detention of children”, publications produced by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union.
- To help the EU to obtain its proposed objective of enabling half of the legal practitioners in the European Union to participate in European judicial training activities by 2020
- Overall, to put into practice the relevant recommendations given in the “Study on the state of play of lawyers training in EU Law” (previously cited).
The project targets directly those lawyers who will participate in the different project’s activities and those who can access the seminars’ material that will be available online (European Lawyers Foundation’s website). Indirectly, the project will target and benefit those migrants (including unaccompanied minors) arriving in Europe who need legal assistance something that, at the end, has a positive impact on the rule of law and the access to Justice in the EU.