Ahead of the European Council (9-10 March), the EEA joined more than 160 Civil Society Organisations in asking the European Union Member States to respect Human Rights for refugees coming to Europe and people on the move.

This month of March 2017 is particularly important as regards of the EU’s management of the refugee crisis: on Thursday and Friday this week the Head of State and Government will approve new decisions for migration policies, on the 15th Dublin returns to Greece will start and March 18th will see the first anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal permitting readmissions of refugees to Turkey.

We want the EU institutions and leaders to stand on the values it was founded on. That is the only way to counter national populism.

“On the brink of the European Union’s 60th anniversary we ask you to show solidarity, respect for humanity and dignity, and responsibility. We ask you to be truly inspiring leaders for the future. Our commitment to the European Union’s core values cannot falter. Only a Europe that really stands by its values can be a strong and credible leader in a world shaken by increasing populism and so-called alternative facts.”

Find the document here: FINAL March Appeal ENGLISH

Full text

8 March 2017


Dear Heads of State and Government,


We are civil society organisations, which are supported, collectively, by hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, working with those less fortunate to alleviate poverty, provide essential aid and defend people’s rights.


With xenophobic populism on the rise across Europe and the globe, this is an appeal for leadership to uphold the rights and values that have been founding principles of the European Union for 60 years. Together, we need to prevent legitimate concerns about migration management from being hijacked and used to derail the European project.


On a daily basis, we witness widespread solidarity with people who are fleeing brutal wars, persecution, human rights violations, instability, and extreme poverty. Throughout Europe and the world, we see people welcome refugees and migrants into their communities, open up their homes and donate money, materials and time to help. Only this week, many of them travelled to Brussels to call on you to uphold your commitments to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and “Bring Them Here”. We also hear people expressing their concerns about the future, asking their governments to show leadership and respond to the arrival of large numbers of people.


We take pride in the European commitment to international law and human rights and we look to you to foster and promote this commitment at home and abroad. Yet when increasing numbers of people in need arrived in the summer of 2015, Europe failed to come together and respond with humanity, dignity, and solidarity.  To this day, European nations are unwilling to respond in in line with their obligations under international and European law, defaulting to responses that keep people far away and out of sight.


We hear you repeating your commitment to European values – respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. But we expect to see them in your actions, too. Too many leaders have been preoccupied with stopping people from reaching Europe, at the risk of reducing access to protection for those who need it the most.


You have the responsibility to manage migration in a fair manner that addresses the legitimate concerns of citizens. It must be principled and based on facts, not on populist rhetoric. Strength doesn’t mean turning away those most in need. Strength is about showing a way forward that upholds values.


Further, if the EU and its member states want to remain credible international actors, they cannot expect countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to host millions of refugees, while simultaneously pushing migrants and refugees back at EU borders, stranding thousands in inhumane living conditions on the Greek islands, or pushing them back into an uncontrolled conflict zone like Libya. Your decisions have life and death consequences, and if you continue to lower standards, countries around the globe will follow suit.


Instead of countering the rise of xenophobic populists, Europe’s response has too often been to copy their recipes. But an approach based on deterrence and border closures cannot override an effective long-term policy. We expect statesmanship that stands up for humanity and dignity and that addresses people’s fears, instead of fuelling them. We expect sustainable, long-term migration policies that guarantee respect for people’s rights rather than pushing them into danger. These include expanding safe and regular pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian and other visas, increasing resettlement spaces and improving access to family reunification schemes, as well as improving worker mobility across skill levels. Other global concerns such as conflict and instability, poverty, inequality and climate change must remain at the top of the European agenda.


You and your governments must assess the impact of your policies on the human rights and living conditions of women, men and children on the move, as well as Europe’s long standing commitment to uphold these rights and improve the lives of people everywhere.


On the brink of the European Union’s 60th anniversary we ask you to show solidarity, respect for humanity and dignity, and responsibility. We ask you to be truly inspiring leaders for the future. Our commitment to the European Union’s core values cannot falter. Only a Europe that really stands by its values can be a strong and credible leader in a world shaken by increasing populism and so-called alternative facts.


European history is full of people who were forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.  The work European nations have done to develop and protect the rights of people over the last 70 years cannot be lost. Only a Europe that defends the rights of everyone, without exception, is a Europe we can be proud of.




1A Proposito di Altri Mondi Onlus
4ACT Alliance EU
5Action Against Hunger
6ActionAid Italy
7ADP Amici dei Popoli
8African Media Association Malta
9Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
10AI.BI. Amici dei Bambini
12Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG)
13AMERA International
14Amnesty International
15Anna Lindh National Network in Finland
16AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
20ASGI – Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione
21Asociacion en Prevencion y Asistencia de la Violencia   APAV
22Asociación pro derechos humanos de España (APDHE)
23ASPEm Onlus
24Associació Salut i Família
25Associaton for Integration and Migration (SIMI)
26Associazione K_Alma
27ASTI – Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés
28Austrian Red Cross
29CARE International
30CARITAS – Luxembourg
31Caritas Europa
32CEFA Onlus
35Centar za integraciju mladih
36Centro per la Formazione alla Solidarietà Internazionale
37Cercle de Coopération
42CIRÉ (coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et étrangers)
43CISV Onlus
44Civic Committee for Human Rights from Croatia (CCHR)
46CODE – Coordination des ONG pour les droits de l’enfant
48Comitato Collaborazione Medica CCM
49Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
50Concord Italia
51CONCORD Sweden
52Consejo de la Juventud de España
53Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic
54Consorzio Ong Piemontesi COP
55Coordinadora de ONG para el Desarrollo – España
56Coordinamento Italiano NGO Internazionali
58COSPE Onlus
59CrEA Onlus
60CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo
61Danish Refugee Council
62Detention Action
63Diaconia – Center of Relief and Development
64DNK – German National Committee for International Youth Work
66Dorcas Aid International
67Dutch Council for Refugees
68Dutch League for Human Rights (DLHR)
71EuroMed Rights
72European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH),
73European Evangelical Alliance
74European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation ENGSO Youth
75European Youth Forum
76Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos España
77FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
78Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR)
79Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission
80Finnish Refugee Council
82FOCSIV – Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario
83Fondazione Fontana
84Fundación Atabal
85Generation 2.0 for Rights ,Equality and Diversity
87Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa
88Handicap International
89Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
90Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights – Poland
91Human Rights Watch
92ICMC Europe
93International Aid Services
94International Association For Refugees
95International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
96International Rescue Committee
97International Young Naturefriends – IYNF
100Islamic Relief UK
102JRS Belgium
103KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
105La Strada International
106Lafede.cat- Federació catalana
107Latin American Wome’s Rights Service (LAWRS) – UK
108Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC)
109Le Monde des Possibles ASBL
111LIDU – Lega italiana dei Diritti dell’Uomo
112Ligue des Droits de l’homme en Belgique (LDH)
113Ligue suisse des droits de l’homme (LSDH)
114Link2007 – Cooperazione in rete
116Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
118Marche solidali – coordinamento organizzazioni marchigiane di cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
119Médecins du Monde
120Menedek – Hungarian Association for Migrants
121Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
122Migrant Voice – UK
123Migrants’ Rights Network
124Missing Children Europe
125Movimento Shalom onlus
127Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
128Norwegian Centre against Racism
129One Third Sweden
130ONG para el Desarrollo
131Osservatorio AIDS
134Pax for Peace
136Platform Kinderen op de vlucht – Plate-forme Mineurs en exil
137Polish Migration Forum
138Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law (PSAL)
141ProgettoMondo Mlal
142Rainbow for Africa
143Red Acoge
144Save the Children
145Secours Islamique France
146SKOP – The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs
147SONIA per un Mondo Nuovo e Giusto
149stichting LOS (National Support Organisation for the Undocumented)
150Stichting Vluchteling
151Swedish Refugee Advice Centre
152Terra Nuova
153Terre des Hommes
154The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys
155The Migrants’ Rights Network
158United Protestant Church in Belgium
161with the support of CONCORD Europe
162World Vision