23rd Feb 2020

EU border agency 'overwhelmed' by offers of equipment

  • Triton is set for launch on 1 November (Photo: Frontex)

The EU’s border agency has received more offers of equipment than its needs as it approaches the end-of-week start date for its migrant surveillance operation in the Mediterranean.

“We launched a call for participation, we received an overwhelming response, far more equipment than we could use,” said Frontex spokesperson Izabella Cooper.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Triton, as the operation is called, now has two open sea patrol vessels, which can remain out at sea for days. It also has two coastal patrol vessels, two coastal patrol boats, two aircraft, one helicopter as well as five debriefing teams.

It will operate within Italian territorial waters and partly in Italian and Maltese search and rescue operation zones.

However the UK refused to contribute to the mission, which will be on the watch for the thousands of migrants that cross the sea looking for a better life in the EU.

“We do not support the planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean," said Baroness Joyce Anelay, a Foreign Office minister.

"We believe that they create an unintended ‘pull factor’… thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths."

She said that the UK would instead focus on tackling smugglers instead.

Meanwhile Italy’s own search and rescue operation, despite some contradicting signals, is set to continue in parallel.

“At the moment, no one has told us to stop the mission,” squadron admiral Filippo Maria Foffi told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday (28 October).

“I am not sure when and if we will stop,” he added.

The Italian admiral is urging member states to consider conducting joint-operations further out in international waters where most rescues take place and where criminals are more active.

He also dismisses the idea that Mare Nostrum has created a pull factor.

“If someone is talking about pull factors, he simply doesn’t know what he is speaking about,” he said, noting that many people are forced to get onto unsafe boats.

Last month, some 450 people perished off the coast of Malta when smugglers deliberately rammed their boat after the migrants refused to board a smaller vessel.

Under Foffi’s command, the Italian navy along with the assistance of one Slovenian naval vessel, have in the past 12 months rescued some 153,000 people in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean from the North African coast. A large percentage is Syrian and Eritrean nationals.

Launched one year ago, Mare Nostrum’s operational life span was only supposed to be a few weeks but kept getting extended. Around 700 smugglers have been apprehended.

The solution to the migratory misery is two-fold, according to the admiral - members states should take in more refugees as well as do more to help the war-torn or poverty-stricken countries they are coming from.

“I have all my sympathy for them [migrants seeking to cross]," he said.


How big is Germany's far-right problem?

The Hanau shooting was a national wake-up call to the scale of far-right extremism in Germany, from violent individuals to political hate speech.


Balkan spies 'feed' EU's police database via Czechs

Western Balkan secret services have handed over more the 250 alerts on suspected foreign terrorist fighters since last summer - fed into the EU's police database by the Czech Republic, according to a confidential document seen by EUobserver.

New EU public prosecutor has four staff for 3,000 cases

Laura Kovesi who heads the new European Public Prosecutor's Office, tasked to tackle fraud linked to VAT, money laundering, and corruption across the EU, warned she is dangerously understaffed and underfunded.

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us