I want to send more migrants away as irregular arrivals increase

I want to send more migrants away as irregular arrivals increase
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  • EU border agency says 2022 irregular arrivals highest since 2016
  • Ministers discuss increasing returns to states, including Iraq
  • hard migration ideas come to the fore
  • There is no money for “walls and fences”, says the EU’s top migration official

STOCKHOLM, Jan 26 (Reuters) – European Union ministers on Thursday looked for ways to curb illegal immigration and let more people out as arrivals rise from pandemic levels, reviving controversial ideas about border fences and asylum centers outside Europe.

EU border agency Frontex reported nearly 330,000 unauthorized arrivals last year, the highest since 2016, with a sharp increase on the Western Balkans route.

“We have a huge increase in illegal arrivals of migrants,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in talks with the EU’s 27 migration ministers. “We have a very low rate of return, and I see that we can make significant progress here.”

Denmark, the Netherlands and Latvia were among those calling for more pressure, through visas and development aid, on around 20 countries the EU deemed uncooperative in taking back their citizens who do not have the right to remain in Europe, including Iraq and Senegal. .

According to the bloc’s executive representative, only a fifth of such people sit back, with insufficient resources and coordination on the EU side being another obstacle.

The negotiations of the ministers are going to the beginning of February. US leaders who will seek more returns at the 9-10 summit, according to a draft joint resolution seen by Reuters.

“The general economic malaise is forcing countries like Tunisia to transform from a transit country to a country where the local population also wants to go,” said an EU official. “It changes everything. But it’s still very manageable, especially if the EU gets its act together.”


However, this is easier said than done in the bloc, where immigration is a highly sensitive political issue and member states are sharply divided over how to share the responsibility of caring for Europe’s arrivals.

The issue turned toxic after more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean in chaotic and deadly scenes in 2015, discrediting the bloc and fueling anti-immigration sentiment.

The EU has since tightened its external borders and asylum laws. As people move back into action after the COVID pandemic, the debate is resurfacing, as are some proposals that were previously dismissed as unacceptable.

Denmark He held talks with Rwanda on the case of asylum seekers in East Africa, while others demanded EU funds to build a border fence between Bulgaria and Turkey – both ideas hitherto considered taboo.

“We are still working to make this happen, preferably with other European countries, but as a last resort we will only do it in cooperation between Denmark and, for example, Rwanda,” Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad said on Thursday.

Dutch minister Erik van der Burgh said he was open to EU funding for border barriers.

“EU member states continue to make access to international protection as difficult as possible,” said the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO, in its report on the systematic return of people at the bloc’s external borders and violations of their rights. to request asylum.

Although EU countries object to illegal immigration, usually consisting of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa, Germany at the same time, it is trying to open its job market to workers in dire need from outside the block.

“We want to conclude migration agreements with countries, especially North African countries, that allow a legal route to Germany, but also include functional returns,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in Stockholm.

Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Bart Meiejer, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Bernadette Baum

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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