- EU border agency says irregular arrivals in 2022 are highest since 2016
- Ministers discuss curbing immigration and boosting returns
- The idea of a hard-line transition comes to the fore
- Top EU immigration official says no money for ‘walls and fences’
STOCKHOLM, June 26 (Reuters) – European Union ministers on Thursday announced plans to curb illegal immigration and attract more people as arrivals surge due to a slowdown in the coronavirus pandemic. It explored ways to get people out and revived controversial ideas for border fences and asylum centers outside Europe.
The EU’s border agency, Frontex, reported about 330,000 unauthorized arrivals last year, the highest number since 2016, with a sharp increase on the Western Balkans route.
“Irregular arrivals of migrants have increased significantly,” Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson said at a meeting between 27 EU migration ministers. “Our return rate is very low and we can make great strides here.”
Denmark, the Netherlands and Latvia were among those who called for increased pressure on about 20 countries, including Iraq and Senegal, through visas and development aid. .
Only about a fifth of such people were sent back last year, according to bloc officials, with inadequate resources and coordination on the EU’s part another hurdle.
According to a draft joint statement seen by Reuters, the ministerial talks will take place ahead of the EU summit, the bloc’s highest political body, on February 9-10.
“walls and fences”
Immigration is a highly politically sensitive topic within the bloc, and Member States are bitterly divided over how to share the task of caring for those who have won asylum in Europe.
The topic is that more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 in a chaotic and deadly scene that caught the block off guard and made it toxic, overwhelming the block’s acceptance and security features, and turned against it. fueled immigration sentiment.
As people move again following the global COVID pandemic, arguments are coming to the fore, as are some proposals that have been rejected as unacceptable in the past.
Denmark is negotiating with Rwanda to process asylum seekers in East Africa, and other EU countries are seeking funding for a border fence between EU member states Bulgaria and Turkey, although both The idea of has been taboo until now.
“We are still working to make it happen, preferably in cooperation with other European countries, but as a last resort we will only do it in cooperation with Denmark and, for example, with Rwanda,” Kale Dibbad Immigration The phase said on Thursday.
Dutch Minister Eric van der Berg said he was open to EU funding for border barriers.
Johansson tried to shatter this idea by saying, “When you spend money on walls and fences, you spend less money on other things.”
While some EU member states have protested illegal immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, including Muslims, Germany is trying to open its job market to much-needed workers from outside the EU.
“We want to conclude migration agreements with countries, especially North African countries, that not only allow legal routes to Germany, but also include a functioning return,” Interior Minister Nancy Feser said in Stockholm.
Editing by Bernadette Baum
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