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Reception, detention and restriction of movement at EU external borders

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The objective of this paper is to critically map the current EU legal framework for deprivation of liberty and restriction on freedom of movement of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as resulting practice, and finally, to discuss the 2020 legislative proposals for EU asylum reform. The discussion of the law and practice is put in the context of the international and EU human rights law framework governing deprivation of liberty and restriction on freedom of movement. After presenting the human rights framework, the paper first discusses how EU secondary legislation regulates detention and restriction on freedom of movement of third-country nationals, especially in the context of borders. Second, the paper looks at detention practices applied in the border context by several Member States. Third, against the background of current legal framework and practices, the paper discusses the 2020 legislative proposals as part of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, which introduce border procedures, namely the proposals for both the Screening Regulation and the Asylum Procedures Regulation to demonstrate their implications on movement restrictions and right to liberty at the EU external borders. The paper then presents a few concluding remarks and policy recommendations.

Product details
Date of Publication
July 2021
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

List of abbreviations 6
Policy recommendations
1. Legal framework governing deprivation of, and restriction on, liberty

1.1 International and EU human rights law
1.2 EU secondary legislation: border procedures
1.2.1 The refusal of entry and detention procedures
1.2.2 The asylum procedure
2. Movement restrictions and detentionat the border in practice
2.1 Border detention facilities
2.2 First reception facilities
2.3 Hotspots
2.3.1 Italy
2.3.2 Greece
3. The Pact on Migration and Asylum and its implications on movement restrictions at EU external borders
3.1 The screening procedure
3.2 The border asylum procedure
3.3 The border return procedure
4. Conclusion