Greece intends to reinforce border patrols, move asylum-seekers from its islands to the mainland and speed up deportations in an effort to deal with a resurgence in migrant flows mostly from Afghanistan, using Turkey as a transit country.
The government’s Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence convened on August 31 for an emergency session after the arrival this week of more than a dozen migrant boats carrying around 600 people, the first simultaneous arrival of its kind in three years.
The increase in arrivals has caused an additional pressure on Greece’s overcrowded island camps, all of which are operating at least twice their capacity.
Moria camp on the island of Lesbos (Greece) – a facility where conditions have been described by aid organizations as inhumane – is also holding the largest number of people since the deal between the EU and Turkey was agreed.
The government said it would move asylum-seekers to mainland facilities, increase border surveillance together with the EU border patrol agency Frontex and NATO, and boost police patrols across Greece to identify rejected asylum seekers who have remained in the country.
Members of European Parliament have approved the proposal to assign to the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027 to strengthen the security in Mediterranean.
Europe’s external borders have seen an unprecedented rise in the numbers of illegal migrants and refugees wishing to enter the EU in recent years. The plans,adopted by MEPs during April Plenary will see the EU agency equipped with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027. The standing corps will consist of staff members employed by the agency as well as staff seconded on a mandatory basis by EU countries.
“You have to be fair with those who deserve protection, harsh with those prey on the vulnerable and firm with those who seek to break the rules” the rapporteur Roberta Metsola (pictured above), the rapporteur said.
The critics of the measure say the measure is superficial and does not address the problem of the illegal migration in a meaningful way. Often articulated promises to apply different approach to people who have right for asylum, and those who don’t are largely exclusionary, because it is impossible to trace their identities in principle.
African population is largely following verbal traditions, and has no custom to issue documents at birth. According World Bank 500 million Africans have no birth certificate and have no information on date of their birth, including day, month, year. This phenomena became notorious in Europe, when young men were successfully claiming to be minors, but there were no legal mechanism to establish their age. Subsequently in absence of population register in Sub–Saharan Africa the promises to make difference between different categories of illegal migrants crossing Mediterranean, are totally illusory.
The opponents of Roberta Metsola insist that at present shape the Coast Guard Agency is designed to accommodate illegal migrants plans to enter Europe safely, however it does not serve the interest of the European nations, some of which, like Italy, were overwhelmed by the influx of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.
“My comment on the role of NGOs is unambiguous. […] I have never questioned the sincerity of NGOs”, said French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner in a video posted on his Twitter micro blog, while ensuring that his statements, concerning NGOs were based on “facts“.
“It is documented that in some cases there have been de facto interactions between smugglers and some NGOs,” he said, citing “two Frontex reports in November and December 2016“.
On April 12, while ensuring that NGOs “play a vital role in providing assistance to migrants” in the Mediterranean, Christophe Castaner had considered that they “could be accomplices” smugglers and had called them to “have a responsible attitude“. The SOS Mediterranean Association sent him a letter denouncing “serious accusations“, assuring that none of these allegations “has ever been proven or substantiated by the slightest evidence” and that “none of the judicial proceedings initiated did not succeed“.
“Our enemies, our real enemies, our only enemies, are the smugglers. The smugglers, and nobody else“, also underlined Christophe Castaner, who denounced the reactions of indignation coming from the NGOs.
New measures strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard to secure the EU’s borders were agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on March 28. The provisionally agreed changes to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) aim to respond to the present needs in security and migration.
A new standing corps of 10 000 staff to be set up by 2027.
“The European Border and Coast Guard law will overhaul Europe’s border management. It will mean an additional 10 000 border and coast guards for Europe; more efficient returns; more tools to fight crime and will serve to allay security and crime concerns and aid in our migration strategy. Europe’s citizens were looking to us to deliver and we have, in record time. This is a win for Europe” rapporteur Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT) said.
The negotiators agreed on setting up a new standing corps to support EU countries on the ground. The new corps could, at the request of a member state, carry out border control and return tasks as well as fight cross-border crime. It would also include a rapid reaction pool for rapid border interventions.
Starting with 5 000 operational staff in 2021, the standing corps would be fully operational by 2027 with 10 000 staff. Currently, the Agency relies solely on member states’ contributions.
The updated Agency would be able to support return procedures in member states, for example by identifying irregularly staying non-EU nationals and assisting national authorities in obtaining travel documents. The new rules would also strengthen the cooperation with the EU Asylum Agency.
EP and Council negotiators agreed that cooperation with non-EU countries needs to be strengthened. MEPs managed to introduce several safeguards to ensure respect for fundamental rights and protection of personal data is included in such cooperation.
To ensure effective scrutiny by the EP of the Agency and by the national parliaments of national authorities, the agreement introduces greater inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Agency’s management will be required also to attend joint meetings of the European and national parliaments.
Home affairs ministers discussed a Commission proposal on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG). They expressed their general wish to strengthen the mandate of the EBCG, in particular on returns and cooperation with third countries. They also shared their views on the size, composition, tasks and powers of the EBCG standing corps, as well as on the timeframe needed to fully establish the corps.
On the basis of this discussion, work will continue at technical level.
There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex (pictured), including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency.
“There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex, including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency” Herbert Kickl, Minister for Interior of Austria.
Ministers discussed a Commission proposal reforming the return directive. They focused, in particular, on one of the new elements introduced by the proposal: the border procedure for returns, including its links with the asylum border procedure.
On the basis of political guidance provided by ministers, work will continue at technical level.
IMAGE above Marina Militare: Frontex vessel transporting illegal migrants to Italy
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz suggested European border guards Frontex should be deployed in transit countries in Africa to prevent illegal migrants from undertaking crossings in the Mediterranean Sea in dinky boats, risking their lives.
During an interview with Sunday’s edition of German newspaper Welt am Sonntag Kurz shared his vision of the EU border protection agency Frontex mission. He proposed a format of a mandate, that should allow the monitoring of the transit countries of Maghreb, with the purpose to “act in third countries, with the permission of their governments, to end smugglers’ dirty business model and prevent smugglers’ boats setting off on the dangerous route across the Mediterranean.”
Austrian concept of illegal migration crisis solution has an extra weight because the country will preside in the European Union from July next six month. Chancellor’s governing coalition took office in December last year, following an intense election campaign marked by a paramount attention given to migrant crisis by all political forces.
The European Union’s Mediterranean countries will remain under increasing pressure from African migrants attempting to reach Europe, the head of the EU’s border agency Frontex said on Tuesday (20/02/2017).
The EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos reminded about the EU efforts to protect Mediterranean borders in his tweet.
However Commissioner’s efforts have not convinced critics of migrant crisis resolution, MEP Diane James is not short of words about flaws of EU deals with African governments.