Fundamental Rights Violations in the Hotspots: Who Is Watching over Them?

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Shedding the light on the hotspots approach: legal framework and actors. – II.1. Legal and policy framework of the hotspots. – II.2. Main actors involved in the hotspots. – III. The fundamental rights violations in the hotspots and their reporting. – III.1. Which fundamental rights are being violated? – III.2. Who monitors and reports on these violations? A multi-level approach. – IV. Focus on the European monitoring mechanisms. – IV.1. A contradictory monitoring role of the European Commission. – IV.2. An insufficient democratic oversight from the European Parliament?. – IV.3. An attempted role to self-inquire by the European Ombudsman. – IV.4. A stronger role of the Fundamental Rights Agency. – IV.5. Internal monitoring mechanisms: stronger influence on EU agencies? – V. Conclusions.

Abstract: The European Commission introduced the EU ‘hotspot’ approach in its European Agenda on Migration (2015). The objective of that approach was to provide operational support on the ground to Member States under particular and disproportionate migratory pressure at their external borders. These centres are put in place in a sensitive environment significantly affecting fundamental rights. Criticism rapidly arose from various UN bodies, civil society organisations and scholars as to the violations of fundamental rights occurring in the hotspots. The present Article analyses the role of five European monitoring mechanisms, being the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Ombudsman, the Fundamental Rights Agency, and the Agencies’ internal monitoring mechanisms. The analysis shows that the various mechanisms are insufficient to monitor the complex environment of the hotspots. It becomes clear that it is essential to enhance political and social monitoring mechanisms to ensure an efficient protection of fundamental rights in the hotspots.

Keywords: hotspots – fundamental rights violations – monitoring – European institutions – Fundamental Rights Agency – internal mechanisms.

European Papers, Vol. 7, 2022, No 1, pp. 215-237
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/555

* PhD Researcher in European Law, European University Institute,


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