Border protection and repatriation. Europe’s plan on migrants

Border protection and repatriation.  Europe’s plan on migrants – Protecting external borders, accelerating and increasing repatriations, acting on secondary movements, fostering solidarity between States, creating greater partnerships with third countries and cooperating in the management of sea rescues with NGOs but also with Libya, Tunisia and Egypt . These are the pillars of the European Commission’s plan to tackle themigrant emergency.

“A European challenge that must be solved at European level”, wrote the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a letter in which she illustrated the action plan to the twenty-seven heads of state and government of the Union in view of the extraordinary EU summit to be held on 9-10 February. Von der Leyen therefore proposes to “strengthen the external borders with the coordinated deployment of EU resources at strategic points, taking into account the differences between land and sea borders”.

He believes it is essential to work in a more targeted way with the Mediterranean and Western Balkan partners, to allow issues to be addressed closer to their source”. Balkan route enhancing the protection of the border between Bulgaria and Turkey “to be considered a priority” and on Mediterranean route increasing cooperation (also with funding) with the coast guards of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Austria had asked to bear the costs of strengthening a wall (or fence) between Bulgaria and Turkey but so far the Commission does not seem willing to consider the hypothesis. “There is not enough money in the budget,” said Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

On the domestic front, von der Leyen responds to the complaints of Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands who denounce a poor application of the Dublin regulation and consequently a green light for secondary movements. “There is a need to address secondary movements and ensure effective solidarity.

Focus on the implementation of Dublin roadmap it will help reduce incentives for secondary movements by enabling Member States to work together better. Furthermore, support to the most exposed Member States should be stepped up, including through effective relocation through the voluntary solidarity mechanism, which should act as a precursor to a permanent mechanism,” he explained in his letter.

The openness to greater solidarity comes in response to Italian requests which have always claimed to place responsibility (ie the rigid implementation of Dublin) on the same level as solidarity. Instead, everyone seems to be involved in the need to increase repatriation and make it more efficient. “We need to face the reality that delays and shortcomings in border and return procedures carry a real cost to the effectiveness of these policies. We can already consider how to speed up border procedures, applying more systematically with third countries and using EU cooperation to support national efforts to promote returns, including by recognizing each other’s return decisions,” wrote von der Leyen.

Finally the external dimension, “in our external financing, we are significantly surpassing the 10% target for migration-related spending. Border management and anti-smuggling projects in North Africa and the Western Balkans will exceed half a billion euros this year. Bringing together the various aspects of EU relations will allow us to leverage progress on migration as a central part of broader relations with key partners”. For the immediate future, von der Leyen calls on states to also cooperate with NGOs regarding search and rescue at sea, urging you to comply with applicable rules and standards.


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