Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Report: EU border crackdown puts migrants in danger

  • EU governments have spent some €238 million in erecting fences (Photo: Vadim Ghirda)

Billions spent by the EU and member states to curb migration flows into Europe are forcing people to take increasingly dangerous and covert routes, according to a report.

Some 330,000 people seeking international protection are expected to arrive by the Mediterranean sea this year through "overt" routes. But around 900,000 are set to file for asylum.

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

The gap between the two figures suggests a massive shift towards covert routes and means, the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said in a report out Thursday (15 September).

"While on the surface, the number of people arriving in Europe has fallen, the rate of those taking hidden routes to Europe has not been affected and is likely to increase," said Marta Foresti, author of the report, in a statement.

Last year, some 35 percent of all arrivals came to the EU using covert means like false documents. In 2016, the number is set to increase to 60 percent.

Ouvert routes include travelling through Morocco to Spain or crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy, among others.

False documents, bribing border guard, hiding in vehicles, overstaying visas, fall under the covert route category.

Europol and migrant smuggling

The EU police agency Europol earlier this week issued similar findings.

It noted migrant smugglers have adapted to stricter border controls and "use new routes and modi operandi to evade law enforcement."

The agency had also found a 295 percent increase, when compared to last year, in the number of Turkish nationals that now ply the migrant smuggling trade.

More than 12,000 new migrant smuggling suspects were reported and identified by Europol in the first eight months of this year alone.

The EU, for its part, signed off a migrant swap deal with Turkey in March that has resulted in a sharp drop of people crossing the Aegean to the Greek islands.

Hidden costs

But the ODI report suggests the bilateral agreement with Turkey, among other efforts like trust funds in Syria and Africa, has had little overall affect on stopping people from seeking other ways to enter Europe.

"There is a significant chance that in the long term, border controls instituted by Europe could end up increasing flows," noted the report.

The researchers had also found little evidence to suggest that efforts to address the root causes slowed migration flows.

They suggested that the some €15.3 billion spent by the EU and member states since December 2014 do not demonstrate the intended results.

They also estimated that another €27.3 billion will need to be spent on the "reception, procedural and resettlement costs" of people who arrived in 2015 and those expected to arrive until the end of this year.

Those costs and hidden flows that help drive migrant smuggling can be curtailed by opening up more legal channels, say the researchers.

Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill

Two pro-transparency campaigners received a €23,700 bill from the EU's border agency Frontex after having lost a court case. Frontex's budget for 2020 is €460m. The campaigners refuse to pay, saying the agency doesn't need the money.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

Exclusive

Commission bins 'Dublin' asylum-reform proposal

The European Commission is to present its new pact on migration at the end of March. Margaritis Schinas, the commissioner in charge, says its 2016 Dublin-reform proposal will be "taken off and be repackaged, redrafted."

Opinion

Europe's migration system is broken: Renew has a plan

The failure of successful integration of migrants and refugees granted stay in Europe puts the entire asylum and migration policy at risk. Member states have to step up their integration policies.

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. WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'
  2. Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill
  3. Turkish jets keep violating Greek airspace
  4. 'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes
  5. EU development policy needs a fresh start
  6. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  7. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  8. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us