The European Union (EU) agreed this Thursday to take measures to speed up the returns of irregular migrants -today only the twenty-one% of expulsion orders are executed – and allocate more funds to protect external borders.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenstressed at a press conference at the end of the meeting the need for countries to remain “joined” to achieve results.
He also explained the two lines that the EU is going to work on: on the one hand, advancing towards the European Migration and Asylum Pactwhich has been negotiated for two and a half years, and on the other with operational measures “that can be adopted now.”
“We have identified a package of measures to work on so that we can find a way to control and manage the migratory flow,” said the President of the European Council, Charles-Michel.
Migration was put on the summit’s agenda coinciding with the increase in migratory flows through the route of Western Balkans and Central Mediterranean.
Added to this increase in arrivals is the extreme situation in which the reception systems of many Member States find themselves, such as Belgium or the Netherlandsafter having received the EU to more than four million refugees from Ukraine in just one year.
Another worrying factor, especially in Eastern countries, is that a new instrumentalization of migrants like the one that happened in 2021, when belarus facilitated the transfer of thousands of Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi citizens to the European borders to try to destabilize the EU.
For these reasons, the EU leaders approved some conclusions that encourage the adoption of operational measures to advance on the most urgent issues, while the European Migration and Asylum Pact continues to be negotiated, which is to be closed by 2024.
The conclusions affect the call “external dimension” of migrationthe aspect where there is more consensus at a European level, which goes through the protection of external borders, the return of those who do not have the right to request international protection and cooperation with the countries of origin.
Among other elements, they ask the Commission to “finance measures by Member States that contribute directly to the control of the Union’s external borders, such as projects border management pilotas well as to the improved border control in key countries on transit routes to the EU”.
They also urge Brussels to mobilize “immediately” funds and means to “assist Member States to strengthen infrastructure and border protection capacitiesmeans of surveillance, including aerial surveillance, and equipment.
Two pilot projects
Von der Leyen said that they will be launched at the external borders two pilot projects to speed returns.
“We will provide an integrated package of mobile and fixed infrastructure, from cars to cameras, through watchtowers and electronic surveillance. This requires EU funding,” he noted.
And he pointed out that Brussels welcomes “bilateral funding and bilateral contributions” in that area and that “of course, national funding is also required.”
Austria, Greece and some countries from the East came today asking the EU to finance the construction of fences and barbed wire.
Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammervalued at the end of the summit that the EU has “clearly said that the external borders will be protected”.
“We have a promise from the Commission that pilot projects will be supported in Bulgaria and RomaniaNehammer added.
The EU considers it necessary to act quickly to ensure effective returns from the European Union and from third countries along the routes to the countries of origin.
To this end, it proposes using “as a lever” all the policies, instruments and tools, including “the diplomacy, development, trade and visas, as well as legal migration”.
The leaders invite to make “full use” of the mechanism of Visa Code which makes it possible to restrict those documents to citizens of countries that do not cooperate in the readmission of their nationals.
Countries are also invited, in order to speed up the return procedures, to recognize the return decisions of the other Member States.
Another of the objectives mentioned is to move towards a common list of safe third countrieswith the help of the European Asylum Agency.
“All Member States should make use of this guide, with a view to achieving a more coordinated approach, thus paving the way towards a common list,” says the agreed text.
They do not forget the situation of the countries affected by sea entries and stress the need for enhanced cooperation in relation to search and rescue activities.
In addition, they ask the Commission to present “as a matter of priority” action plans for the Atlantic and the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.
The EU wants to involve more Frontex in protecting the external borders and combating human trafficking.
Therefore, he called today to conclude new agreements to deploy Frontex agents also in third countries.
Finally, to combat attempts to instrumentalize migration, the Twenty-seven call for progress on a series of tools, including possible measures against transport operators who participate in or facilitate human trafficking or the smuggling of migrants.
(With information from EFE)
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