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Safe country of origin

A country of origin of asylum applicants is considered safe if it does not, or not generally, produce refugees. Receiving countries may use the concept of safe country of origin as a basis for rejecting summarily (without examination of the merits) particular groups or categories of asylum applicants.

According to Directive 2005/85/EC, a "safe country of origin" is a country where, on the basis of the legal situation, the application of the law within a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be shown that there is generally and consistently no persecution as defined in Directive 2004/83/EC, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict. In making this assessment, account is taken, inter alia, of the extent to which protection is provided against persecution or mistreatment by:

  • the relevant laws and regulations of the country and the manner in which they are applied,
  • observance of the rights and freedoms laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights and/or the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and/or the Convention against Torture, in particular the rights from which derogation cannot be made under Article 15(2) of the said European Convention,
  • respect of the non-refoulement principle according to the Geneva Convention,
  • provision for a system of effective remedies against violations of these rights and freedoms.

Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees , Council Directive 2005/85/EC

Safe return

Return in accordance with fundamental rights, taking into account the rights, safety and dignity of the person returned, and with due regard for gender equality and the best interests of the child.

Source: Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings , Directive 2008/115/EC

Schengen Agreement & Convention

With the signing on 14 June 1985 of the Schengen Agreement, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed that they would gradually remove controls at their common borders and introduce freedom of movement for all nationals of the signatory EU States, other EU States or non-EU countries. The Schengen Convention, signed on 19 June 1990, supplements the Agreement and lays down the arrangements and safeguards for implementing freedom of movement.

The Agreement and the Convention, the rules adopted on the basis thereof and the related agreements together form the "Schengen acquis". Since 1999, this has formed part of the institutional and legal framework of the EU by virtue of a Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Source: Schengen acquis

Schengen Area

As of December 2011, the Schengen Area consists of the following EU States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden. This means that the other EU States (i.e. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom) are not (yet) part of Schengen. Whilst Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not EU States, they have signed an Association Agreement in order to be associated with the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis.

Source: European Union

Schengen Information System (SIS)

A joint information system that is used by border guards and by police, customs, visa and judicial authorities throughout the Schengen Area. SIS enables these authorities to have access to specific types of alerts on persons and property for the purposes of border checks, other police and customs checks, issuing visas and residence permits and the administration of legislation on aliens in the context of the application of the provisions of the Schengen Convention relating to the movement of persons. SIS was established as an intergovernmental initiative under the Schengen Convention, now integrated into the EU framework.

Source: Schengen acquis

Second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)

SIS II – a more advanced version of the Schengen Information System (SIS) – was launched in April 2013 with enhanced functionalities, such as the possibility to use biometrics, new types of alerts, the possibility to link different alerts (such as an alert on a person and a vehicle) and a facility for direct queries on the system. SIS II also contains copies of European Arrest Warrants (EAW), which are recognised as having the same legal value as the originals, making it easier and quicker for the competent authorities to ensure the necessary follow-up.

Source: Schengen acquis

Schengen State

An EU State or associated non-EU country participating in the Schengen Area.

Source: Schengen acquis

Seasonal worker

A non-EU national who retains a legal domicile in a non-EU country but resides temporarily for the purposes of employment in the territory of an EU State in a sector of activity dependent on the passing of the seasons, under one or more fixed-term work contracts concluded directly between the non-EU national and the employer established in an EU State.

Source: Proposal COM(2010) 379 final

Sexual exploitation

Any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, power differential or trust for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Source: International Organization for Migration

Shared management

For funds in "shared management", the Commission currently entrusts EU States with implementing programmes at national level. EU States then allocate these funds to end recipients (e.g. companies, farmers, municipalities, etc.). The EU State has primary responsibility for setting up a management and control system that complies with the requirements of the regulations, ensuring that this system functions effectively and also preventing, detecting, and correcting irregularities. The Commission plays a supervisory role by satisfying itself that the arrangements governing the management and control system are compliant. It does so by verifying the effective functioning of this system and making financial corrections, where necessary.

Source: European Commission

Single permit

A residence permit issued by the authorities of an EU State allowing a non-EU national to legally reside in its territory for the purpose of work.

Source: Directive 2011/98/EU

Situational awareness

In the context of border surveillance, the ability to monitor, detect, identify, track and understand irregular cross-border activities in order to find reasoned grounds for reaction measures on the basis of combining new information with existing knowledge, and to be better able to reduce loss of lives of migrants at, along or in the proximity of, the external borders.

Source: Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013

Situational picture

In the context of border surveillance, a graphical interface to present near-real-time data and information received from different authorities, sensors, platforms and other sources, which is shared across communication and information channels with other authorities in order to achieve situational awareness and support the reaction capability along the external borders and the pre-frontier area.

Source: Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013

Small arms and light weapons (SALW)

Small arms and light weapons range from clubs, knives and machetes to, for example, mortars below the calibre of 100 mm. They are manufactured to military specifications for use as lethal instruments of war. Broadly speaking, small arms are those weapons designed for personal use, and light weapons are those designed for use by several persons serving as a crew. Based on this broad definition, the weapons are categorized as follows:

Small arms:

  • revolvers and self-loading pistols,
  • rifles and carbines,
  • sub-machine-guns,
  • assault rifles,
  • light machine-guns.

Light weapons:

  • heavy machine-guns,
  • hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers,
  • portable anti-aircraft guns,
  • portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles,
  • portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems,
  • portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems,
  • mortars of calibres of less than 100 mm,
  • ammunition and explosives,
  • cartridges (rounds) for small arms,
  • shells and missiles for light weapons,
  • mobile containers with missiles or shells for single-action anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems,
  • anti-personnel and anti-tank hand grenades,
  • landmines,
  • explosives.

Source: United Nations

Smuggler (of migrants)

An intermediary who moves a person by agreement with that person, in order to transport him/her in an unauthorized manner.

Source: International Organization for Migration

Smuggling of migrants

The procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.

Source: Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Solidarity clause

Provides the option for the EU and its States to provide assistance to another EU State that is the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

The means for implementing the solidarity clause are defined by a decision adopted by the Council, on a joint proposal by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. When the implementation of the solidarity clause has implications for the Common Security and Defence Policy, the Council is assisted by the Political and Security Committee.

Source: Summaries of EU legislation

Special Transit Scheme

Funding provided through the External Borders Fund to compensate Lithuania for foregone fees from transit visas and additional costs incurred in implementing the Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) and the Facilitated Rail Transit Document (FRTD) scheme in accordance with Regulation 693/2003 and Regulation 694/2003.

Source: Decision No 574/2007/EC

Specific actions

Actions that address weaknesses at strategic border points and are financed by the EU through the External Borders Fund. They are managed by the Commission (direct management).

Source: Decision No 574/2007/EC

Specific Programme "Prevention of and Fight against Crime” (ISEC)

This programme contributes to citizens’ security by preventing and combating crime, in particular terrorism, trafficking in persons, child abuse, cybercrime, illicit drug and arms trafficking, corruption and fraud. It focuses on four strands:

  • crime prevention,
  • law enforcement,
  • witness protection and support,
  • victim protection.

Financial support is provided for actions that aim at increasing operational cooperation, monitoring and evaluation activities, the development and transfer of technology and methodology, training and exchanges of staff, awareness-raising and dissemination activities.

Source: Council Decision 2007/125/JHA

Specific Programme "Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security-related Risks" (CIPS)

This programme contributes to the protection of citizens and critical infrastructures against terrorist attacks and other security-related incidents. On the one hand, the programme fosters prevention and preparedness, particularly by improving the protection of critical infrastructures. On the other hand, it focuses on consequence management to ensure the smooth coordination of crisis management and security actions, in particular regarding terrorist attacks.

Source: Council Decision 2007/124/EC, Euratom

Stateless person

Person who is not considered as national by any State under the operation of its law.

Source: United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons


A non-EU national accepted by an establishment of higher education and admitted to the territory of an EU State to pursue as his/her main activity a full-time course of study leading to a higher education qualification recognised by the EU State, including diplomas, certificates or doctoral degrees in an establishment of higher education, which may cover a preparatory course prior to such education according to its national legislation.

Source: Council Directive 2004/114/EC

Student residence permit

An authorisation issued by the authorities of an EU State allowing a non-EU national, accepted by an establishment of higher education to pursue as his/her main activity a full-time course of study leading to a higher education qualification recognised by the EU State, to stay legally in its territory.

Source: Council Directive 2004/114/EC

Subsidiary protection

The protection given to a non-EU national or a stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee, but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown to believe that the person concerned, if returned to his or her country of origin or, in the case of a stateless person, to his or her country of former habitual residence, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and who is unable or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country.

Source: Council Directive 2004/83/EC

Subsidiary protection status

The recognition by an EU State of a non-EU national or a stateless person as a person eligible for subsidiary protection.

Source: Council Directive 2004/83/EC

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