June 10. 2023. 1:06

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EU Commission wants to tighten controls at external borders

The European Commission is committed to tightening controls at the EU’s external borders to make them more effective against irregular migration, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a letter to member states on Tuesday (20 March), seen by EURACTIV.

Migration is high on the EU agenda as illegal border crossings soared by 77% in 2022 compared to the previous year, putting pressure on the executive to act.

“Effective external borders, working with partners to prevent irregular departures and breaking the business model of the smuggling networks, supporting those in need of international protection, offering safe alternative legal pathways, and returning those with no right to stay” are the priorities von der Leyen outlined in the letter, sent ahead of the upcoming EU Council (23-24 March).

More money for controls

In the letter, von der Leyen cites a wide range of Commission investments to modernise and enlarge border control procedures and increase reception capacities and returns. Some are already in place, while others are set to be negotiated.

She highlighted that €600 million has been made available to “support member states with border control and technological equipment” that will be firstly used at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.

An additional €220 million has been allocated to Turkey “to prevent irregular migration flows at the Eastern borders”.

Another more broad investment in the EU border, totalling €200 million, “will target help on reception addressing key concerns such as the reception of unaccompanied minors, increasing capacities close to external borders and meeting needs of specific member states”.

New deliveries of vessels to Libya for search and rescue (SAR) operations are expected soon, the Commission president wrote in the letter, following the announcement of EU funds for these boats in late January.

On Monday, the Commission told journalists that the executive is ready to re-start training the controversial Libyan Coastguard “whenever the Libyan side is ready” under the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI, the EU military operation in the central Mediterranean.

EU to train Libyan coast guard ‘whenever Libyan side is ready’

The EU is ready to re-start training the so-called Libyan coast guard whenever the Libyan side is ready under the mandate of the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, EU Commission spokesperson Peter Stano told the press on Monday (20 March).


The ‘Dubliners’

The Commission pointed out the importance of effectively applying the Dublin regulation, which states that when a person arrives in the EU, they must apply for asylum in the member state of arrival.

In addition, von der Leyen said she supports the work to “reduce incentives for secondary movements” after an individual is registered.

The European institutions tried to reform the Dublin regulation under the Jean Claude Junker administration between 2014 and 2019 without success.

The reform, approved by the European Parliament at the time, proposed to cancel the constraints of application at the member state of arrival, however, it was not agreed on in the trilogue stage with the Commission and Council.

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