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17 June 2002



Seville Summit: Blocking Access to Europe is not the Answer


The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)[1] calls on  European leaders gathering in Seville later this week to  show strong political leadership, stand by their human rights commitments and ensure access to Europe for people in need of  protection.  Peer Baneke, the General Secretary of ECRE  said "access is at the core of refugee protection. Without the possibility of access to the territory, the right to seek asylum is meaningless. Ever stricter control measures have not only obstructed the right of asylum seekers to access the territory of Europe but have also forced people to resort to illegal entry and rely on criminal networks. As a result, the phenomenon of people smuggling and trafficking at Europe's land and coastal borders has thrived fuelling public insecurity and mistrust in the ability of European governments to control their borders."


"Political will, courage and determination are needed to foster public confidence in Europe's capacity to shape and manage a coherent asylum and immigration policy.  We believe that the answer to public fears does not lie in the constant tightening of control measures but in a comprehensive and principled approach that is based on a thorough understanding of the asylum and migration phenomenon in Europe. The EU must live up to the commitments of the 1999 Tampere Summit to 'respect…the absolute right to seek asylum' and provide 'guarantees to those who seek protection in or access to the European Union'. We strongly urge European governments to develop a coherent  strategy that includes the establishment of a principled and fair common European asylum system; a commitment to global responsibility sharing; active engagement in the root causes of forced displacement; and a common immigration policy".


ECRE calls on all Heads of EU governments  and in particular Prime Minister Aznar as the Chair of the Seville EU Summit:

  1. To demonstrate the necessary political leadership to rebuild public confidence in the asylum system;
  2. To incorporate fundamental safeguards consistent with international human rights and refugee law standards into border control measures that enable refugees to access European territory to present their asylum claims;
  3. To significantly increase the European governments’ participation in resettlement programs without prejudice to the right of spontaneous arrivals to seek and enjoy asylum on the territory of Europe;
  4. To ensure that a harmonized European approach to safeguard access and protection for persons fleeing persecution forms part of a co-ordinated strategy, which addresses the causes of forced displacement and includes the channeling of aid to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.


Peer Baneke and other ECRE representatives  will be present at the Seville Summit and can be contacted on:


Peer Baneke: ECRE General Secretary                tel:      + 44 7808 295 613

                                                                                    fax:     + 44 20 7729 5141

                                                                                    e-mail: Pbaneke@ecre.org


Charlotte Altenhoner, ECRE Legal Officer         tel:      + 44 729 5152 x 221

                                                                                    e-mail: CAltenhoner@ecre.org


Jon Zabala Otegui,  Comision Espanola de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR)

tel:      +34 91 804 5404

fax:     +34 91 804 6886

e-mail: jonza@ctv.es


[1] Representing the refugee assisting non-governmental community in twenty-four European countries