ECRE is an alliance of 106 NGOs across 40 European countries. It was established in 1974 and has grown rapidly in recent years, reflecting European civil society’s continued commitment to the right to asylum.
ECRE’s mission is to protect and advance the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and other forcibly displaced persons in Europe and in Europe’s external policies. Its diverse membership ranges from large INGOs with global presence to small organisations of dedicated activists. Members’ work covers the full circle of displacement from zones of conflict, to the dangerous routes and arrival in Europe, to long-term inclusion in European societies, with their activities including humanitarian relief, social service provision, legal assistance, litigation, monitoring policy and law, advocacy and campaigning.
ECRE’s secretariat in Brussels informs, supports and works with the membership through joint events, the Annual General Conference, briefings to members and management of specialist working groups.
ECRE’s Strategic Plan sets out ECRE’s objectives for the period 2020 to 2022. It includes strategic priorities, activity objectives for different areas of ECRE’s work, and organisational objectives. Annual reports, comparing results against the objectives, and annual plans setting out activities for the year ahead, are published in January of each year.
ECRE’s work covers three main activities:
ECRE’s legal support and strategic litigation aims to support asylum seekers and refugees to access their rights through the courts and to effect deeper legal changes through litigation. Legal support involves providing advice, training and networking opportunities for asylum lawyers. ECRE coordinates the ELENA legal network along with national coordinators in 38 European countries, representing 500 asylum lawyers, many with no other source of support. Every year over 100 legal queries from lawyers working on individual cases are answered, with advice on jurisprudence, interpretation and argumentation provided.
The European Database of Asylum Law (EDAL) is an online database compiling summaries of asylum case law from the courts of 22 European states, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). EDAL is an invaluable resource, frequently consulted and cited by courts and lawyers in Europe. The ELENA Weekly Legal Update (EWLU) is distributed to 4788 subscribers, providing them with information on developments in asylum law.
Strategic litigation involves identifying and supporting legal cases which have the potential to generate significant legal changes. ECRE’s litigation priorities focus on access to asylum procedures, detention, reception conditions, the Dublin system and family reunification. ECRE is directly engaged in cases, the implementation of judgments and third party interventions, as well as in providing guidance and statements of supporting evidence for lawyers.
ECRE’s Advocacy team seeks to influence government policy and practice affecting refugee rights in Europe as well as European external action that impacts refugee rights outside Europe. It targets policy-makers in Brussels and in Member State capitals with tailored analysis and recommendations for change which are presented in the form of Policy Notes or Policy Papers. ECRE focuses on both developing alternatives to the status quo and on countering proposals which do not respect the rights of refugees.
ECRE’s positions are discussed in bilateral meetings and public events, and are taken forward via our communication channels. ECRE promotes the inclusion of refugee advocates and refugee-led organisations in all of its advocacy through their direct participation in workshops and events and their contribution to the development of ECRE’s policy positions as members of ECRE.
The policy areas ECRE works on include European external policies, including the accession process, security and development policy as well as cooperation with third countries on migration and return. ECRE is monitoring the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in and by Europe, including through resettlement and other safe and legal routes for refugees and is influencing the EU’s funding for refugee rights with a focus on the EU’s post- 2021 budget and refugee inclusion.
The policy areas ECRE works on include:
- European external policies, including the accession process, security and development policy Cooperation with third countries on migration and return
- Implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in and by Europe, including through resettlement and other safe and legal routes for refugees
- EU funding for refugee rights with a focus on the EU’s post- 2021 budget and refugee inclusion
Advocacy on CEAS:
ECRE provides thorough and authoritative analysis of EU asylum law with a particular focus on the implementation and reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Its overall objective is to ensure that the legal framework for the CEAS reflects the highest human rights standards. ECRE analyses and provides detailed recommendations for improvement of EU Regulations and Directives. It works closely with EASO/EU Asylum Agency and Frontex to support improved asylum processes across Europe and rights-based border management. It analyses national legal frameworks and practice, assessing compliance with EU and international human rights law and jurisprudence.
This work includes ECRE’s management of the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) which provides detailed comparative analysis of asylum systems in 23 countries. Through AIDA, ECRE provides up- to- date information on (a) asylum procedures, (b) reception conditions, (c) detention and (d) content of international protection in European countries. AIDA consists of detailed country reports, comparative reports, fact-finding visits investigating important protection gaps, and legal briefings providing focused analysis of key issues of asylum law and policy.
The ECRE Communication team works to turn ECRE knowledge and expertise into effective messages that can be directed towards the public. ECRE has a substantial and increasing audience through almost 50.000 followers on social media (Twitter and Facebook), more than 13.000 subscribers to our organisational newsletters (ECRE Weekly Bulletin and ECRE Daily Press Review) and press work that includes interviews with leading international and European media. The ECRE Media Officers Network (EMON) ensures cooperation, coordination and information sharing across the network.