Press Release

FRA steps up migration work in response to ongoing tragedies

©Nightman1965/ Shutterstock
Following the latest tragedy in which more than 70 migrants suffocated in a lorry that was abandoned on the Austrian motorway, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) expresses its shock and reiterates its calls for the fundamental rights of all those reaching the EU to be respected.

Europe’s recent history has taught us bitter lessons about the plight of those who seek refuge from war, from torture, from persecution in another country. Almost 15 years after the last conflict in the Balkans and 70 years after WWII, it is time to reflect on how we deal with the new challenge of asylum seekers travelling through Europe by land or crossing the Mediterranean to find shelter in the EU," said FRA interim Director Constantinos Manolopoulos. "We are facing a humanitarian and a human rights emergency and many EU citizens are welcoming the desperate people seeking asylum, because, whether or not they have permits, visas or passports, they have a right to life and to dignity. It is the moral and legal duty of the Union and its Member States, despite the great difficulties this may entail, first to address the humanitarian emergency in an efficient and effective manner; secondly, to protect and fulfil the right to seek international protection without risking lives.”

Already at FRA’s 2014 Fundamental Rights Conference Fundamental Rights and Migration to the EU, participants discussed the need for a more holistic approach to migration and asylum policy in the EU and emphasised that fundamental rights must be at the very heart of such policies and not just one element of them among many. FRA has also pointed out that there are currently few legal avenues by which people in need of protection can access the EU. In Legal entry channels to the EU for persons in need of international protection: a toolbox, FRA presents a number of ways in which Member States could enable more people in need to reach the EU without resorting to smugglers.

In recognition of the urgency of the growing humanitarian crisis at the EU’s borders, FRA is now stepping up its work in the area of asylum and migration. For example:

  • On 3 September FRA will publish its latest report, The cost of exclusion from healthcare – the case of migrants in an irregular situation. The report details the findings of the Agency’s research into the comparative costs of providing healthcare access or emergency treatment only to irregular migrants in three EU Member States
  • FRA is supporting its sister agencies, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the border management agency Frontex, with the development of a common training tool for border guards and asylum officers
  • A major FRA project underway on the social inclusion and democratic participation of migrants and their descendants in Member States will be used as the basis for developing fundamental rights indicators that can be used throughout the EU, thus helping to increase integration and prevent radicalisation
  • FRA is conducting a large-scale research project on the fundamental rights impact of the collecting, storing and using the biometrics data collected in the three large-scale IT systems (Eurodac, the Schengen Information System and Visa Information System) established to exchange personal data in the area of asylum and borders

A selection of FRA’s numerous publications in the area of migration, asylum and borders can be found below.

Focus papers


FRA has published a series of three reports on the fundamental rights situation at the EU’s southern sea borders, at five major EU airports, and at six land borders.

Already in 2011, FRA carried out research into the fundamental rights situation of migrants at the Greek/Turkish land border.

FRA has also published several reports on the fundamental rights of irregular migrants in the EU.

More than 600 experts were interviewed for FRA’s research of labour exploitation in the EU.


  • Handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration The Handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration was produced in cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights and has been welcomed in particular by lawyers, judges and immigration practitioners, who work on such issues on an everyday basis.

For further information please see the FRA website

or contact: / Tel.: +43 1 580 30 655