Debrief: CONTENTION Intermediate Meeting

The Intermediate meeting of the project ‘CONTENTION’ (CONtrol of DeTENTION), co-funded by the European Union in the framework of the European Return Fund, took place at the European University Institute (EUI) on the 3rd and 4th of October last. The meeting took place in the EUI’s Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS). The programme of the meeting can be found here.

The project’s coordination team were on hand to welcome a large number of national experts and judges from the eleven participating States. That expertise was complemented by the presence of the project’s Scientific Committee. The main purpose of the intermediate meeting was to discuss the project’s preliminary results which have been gathered by the national experts and judges and collated by the project’s coordination team. The completed questionnaires, which were an essential part of the feedback from each of the participating Member States, will soon be made available on the CONTENTION website.

The project’s coordination team broke the preliminary results of the project thus far into two main elements and presented these to the Intermediate Meeting’s attendees.

The first element is the project’s database. CONTENTION’s database consists of over 450 cases gathered from the domestic jurisprudence of all eleven of the participating States. The cases are summarised in English and available through a simple search on the project’s website. The database also includes a search function for European and international case-law which is relevant to particular provisions of Article 15 of the Return Directive (2008/115).

The second element takes the form of the draft European Synthesis Report. The report, which details the major findings of the project thus far, was written by the coordination team not only on the basis of the vast information gathered through the database but also with due regard to the invaluable information gathered through the aforementioned questionnaires. The questionnaires were completed by the academic experts from each of the participating Member States.

Having been welcomed by Professor Philippe De Bruycker, the meeting opened with a presentation of the database by Frank Mc Namara and Géraldine Renaudiere. Dr. Sergo Mananashvili and Professor De Bruycker then introduced the draft European Synthesis Report.

In preparation of the Intermediate Meeting, the coordination team had drafted a set of questions that would stoke the debate and encourage a full and frank exchange of views, especially from the judges and national experts present. Those questions served as the basis for discussion and guided the meeting through consideration of the European Synthesis Report. The participants voiced approval for the draft report and also highlighted certain issues which they felt needed to be further underlined in preparation for the final draft of the report and CONTENTION’s final conference which will disseminate the results of the project. The questions which guided the meeting through each of the key points of debate can be found here.

The meeting also acknowledged the input of Judge Nataliya Angelova, Judge at the Administrative Court of Sofia City, who was responsible for requesting a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU with the case of Mahdi (C-146/14). In Mahdi, Judge Angelova requested that the Court clarify certain questions, especially with regard to the procedure that goes with extending an initial detention. In the context of this decision of the Court of Justice, the meeting discussed the discretion of domestic Courts in extending detention periods in the context of those authorities being “able to consider any other element that is relevant for its decision should it so deem necessary” (Paragraph 62).

Finally, the meeting also discussed the continuing administration of the project, the next steps in preparation for concluding the project and the publication of the collated research in the future.

The Final Conference of the CONTENTION project will take place in Brussels on the 11th and 12th of December. The Final Conference will not only draw CONTENTION to a conclusion, it will also serve as the kick off meeting for the REDIAL (Return DIALogue) project. REDIAL is tasked with building upon the knowledge base assembled by CONTENTION but to go beyond the limited confines of pre-removal detention and to explore more generally the implementation of the Return Directive. CONTENTION’s scope will therefore be expanded upon and will include all of the Member States which apply the Return Directive.