Brussels proposes expediting returns and reinforcing the presence of Frontex, after the number of entries has tripled
With the migration crisis in the Central Mediterranean still recent, the European Union (EU) is now turning its gaze to the Western Balkans. The entries through this route, one of the most dangerous on the way into Europe, have tripled in the last year. And, in the absence of a European migration pact that has not yet arrived, Brussels on Monday proposed twenty emergency measures -as a patch-, to deal with the migratory pressure. The proposal is based on the reinforcement of European borders -with the deployment of personnel from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in the region- and greater cooperation to expedite returns to the countries of origin.
“Migration is a common challenge and we must face it together, without leaving any member state alone, nor the allies of the Balkans,” said the vice-president of the Promotion of the European Lifestyle, Margaritis Schinas, on Monday. The Community Executive has been working on proposals for migration management for some time and has become a priority after the diplomatic crisis between France and Italy due to the landing of humanitarian ships, with more than 200 rescued on board, in their ports. The Twenty-seven will discuss these measures within the framework of the Western Balkans summit, which is being held this Tuesday in Tirana.
The hazards en route through this region have been increasing in recent years. Migrants run the risk of drowning and stepping on one of the thousands of land mines that are still in the area today. In addition, the EU warns of the “increase in violence by mafias and the use of firearms.”
Faced with this situation, Brussels is committed to reinforcing border management. The bloc has already concluded agreements with Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia, which will allow Frontex to deploy troops in the region. Also “it is possible that Frontex support will be increased to member states at the EU’s external borders”, which bear much of this migratory pressure, he warns.
The European Commission proposes, in the same way, an improvement in the asylum capacities of its partners in the region. The objective would be none other than to reinforce their resources to ensure good attendance conditions, especially in the face of winter.
Fight against the mafias
The fight against the mafias that traffic migrants constitutes another of the pillars of the European plan. To this end, the EU proposes to establish a Europol task force, with the participation of all the Balkan countries, to carry out actions along the route. At the same time, it encourages reaching agreements with the co-legislators to “sanction transport operators involved in migrant smuggling.”
The EU also wants to alleviate migratory pressure in the region by expediting deportations, through Frontex, of people who cannot benefit from European protection and reception regimes. It also warns the Balkan countries that “it is crucial” that they align their visa policy with that of the community bloc for the proper functioning of the visa-free regime.
Some of the measures proposed this Monday for the Balkans have already been raised in the community action plan to deal with the crisis in the Central Mediterranean. On that occasion, Commissioner Schinas assured that the migration pact is “the best instrument” to deal with future conflicts and encouraged unblocking it. «We cannot continue working crisis by crisis, we need a comprehensive migration and asylum policy. It’s ironic that we have everything we need within our reach, but we can’t reach it. It’s like having a parachute and choosing to jump out of the plane without it,” he said.
European Union (EU), Brussels, Europe, France, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Tirana, Irregular Immigration, Migrants, Refugees
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