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.




1 A Proposito di Altri Mondi Onlus
4 ACT Alliance EU
5 Action Against Hunger
6 ActionAid Italy
7 ADP Amici dei Popoli
8 African Media Association Malta
9 Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
10 AI.BI. Amici dei Bambini
12 Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG)
13 AMERA International
14 Amnesty International
15 Anna Lindh National Network in Finland
16 AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
19 Arsis
20 ASGI – Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione
21 Asociacion en Prevencion y Asistencia de la Violencia   APAV
22 Asociación pro derechos humanos de España (APDHE)
23 ASPEm Onlus
24 Associació Salut i Família
25 Associaton for Integration and Migration (SIMI)
26 Associazione K_Alma
27 ASTI – Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés
28 Austrian Red Cross
29 CARE International
30 CARITAS – Luxembourg
31 Caritas Europa
32 CEFA Onlus
35 Centar za integraciju mladih
36 Centro per la Formazione alla Solidarietà Internazionale
37 Cercle de Coopération
42 CIRÉ (coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et étrangers)
43 CISV Onlus
44 Civic Committee for Human Rights from Croatia (CCHR)
46 CODE – Coordination des ONG pour les droits de l’enfant
48 Comitato Collaborazione Medica CCM
49 Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
50 Concord Italia
51 CONCORD Sweden
52 Consejo de la Juventud de España
53 Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic
54 Consorzio Ong Piemontesi COP
55 Coordinadora de ONG para el Desarrollo – España
56 Coordinamento Italiano NGO Internazionali
57 Cordaid
58 COSPE Onlus
59 CrEA Onlus
60 CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo
61 Danish Refugee Council
62 Detention Action
63 Diaconia – Center of Relief and Development
64 DNK – German National Committee for International Youth Work
65 Doras
66 Dorcas Aid International
67 Dutch Council for Refugees
68 Dutch League for Human Rights (DLHR)
71 EuroMed Rights
72 European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH),
73 European Evangelical Alliance
74 European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation ENGSO Youth
75 European Youth Forum
76 Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos España
77 FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
78 Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR)
79 Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission
80 Finnish Refugee Council
82 FOCSIV – Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario
83 Fondazione Fontana
84 Fundación Atabal
85 Generation 2.0 for Rights ,Equality and Diversity
86 GVC
87 Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa
88 Handicap International
89 Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
90 Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights – Poland
91 Human Rights Watch
92 ICMC Europe
93 International Aid Services
94 International Association For Refugees
95 International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
96 International Rescue Committee
97 International Young Naturefriends – IYNF
100 Islamic Relief UK
101 JRS
102 JRS Belgium
103 KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
104 Kopin
105 La Strada International
106 Lafede.cat- Federació catalana
107 Latin American Wome’s Rights Service (LAWRS) – UK
108 Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC)
109 Le Monde des Possibles ASBL
110 Legambiente
111 LIDU – Lega italiana dei Diritti dell’Uomo
112 Ligue des Droits de l’homme en Belgique (LDH)
113 Ligue suisse des droits de l’homme (LSDH)
114 Link2007 – Cooperazione in rete
115 LVIA
116 Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
118 Marche solidali – coordinamento organizzazioni marchigiane di cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
119 Médecins du Monde
120 Menedek – Hungarian Association for Migrants
121 Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
122 Migrant Voice – UK
123 Migrants’ Rights Network
124 Missing Children Europe
125 Movimento Shalom onlus
126 Naga
127 Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
128 Norwegian Centre against Racism
129 One Third Sweden
130 ONG para el Desarrollo
131 Osservatorio AIDS
132 Overseas
133 Oxfam
134 Pax for Peace
136 Platform Kinderen op de vlucht – Plate-forme Mineurs en exil
137 Polish Migration Forum
138 Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law (PSAL)
140 PRO.DO.C.S.
141 ProgettoMondo Mlal
142 Rainbow for Africa
143 Red Acoge
144 Save the Children
145 Secours Islamique France
146 SKOP – The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs
147 SONIA per un Mondo Nuovo e Giusto
148 SPARK15
149 stichting LOS (National Support Organisation for the Undocumented)
150 Stichting Vluchteling
151 Swedish Refugee Advice Centre
152 Terra Nuova
153 Terre des Hommes
154 The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys
155 The Migrants’ Rights Network
156 Trócaire
158 United Protestant Church in Belgium
159 Welthungerhilfe
160 WeWorld
161 with the support of CONCORD Europe
162 World Vision