Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Europol: Schengen enlargement will boost irregular migration

Allowing Bulgaria and Romania to join the border-free Schengen zone is likely to spur irregular migration through Turkey and the Black Sea, an analyst from EU's police agency Europol said on Tuesday (14 June) in Sofia.

"The accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen zone has a potential to raise the pressure on the Turkish-Greek border and lead to increased targeting of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast by illegal immigrants," Jean-Dominique Nollet, head of Europol's Analysis and Information Department said during a conference in the Bulgarian capital.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Romania and Bulgaria would bring Schengen borders to the edge of the Black Sea (Photo: Wikipedia)

Even if the entry of the two countries would not "change the face of the earth," he stressed the need for risk assessments and other appropriate measures to be taken, especially since the Balkan region has seen the biggest increase in smuggling and human and drug trafficking in Europe in recent years.

His comments will add fuel to the debate whether Bulgaria and Romania should be given an entry date this year, after EU interior ministers postponed a decision on the move until after the summer break, awaiting more progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime.

Both countries had hoped to join the border-free area of 26 countries in 2012, but opposition from the Netherlands, France, Germany and a handful of other states with mounting domestic debates about immigration have hampered these plans.

A crackdown on corrupt border officials in Romania took place earlier this year in a bid to increase trust in its capacity to secure the Schengen frontier. Border police last week also arrested the wife of a diplomat from Congo after finding more than 18,000 cigarette packs hidden in her car.

"Using diplomatic immunity, the smugglers were bringing cigarettes to Romania at least twice a week," organised crime prosecutor Mircea Andres said during a press conference.

Meanwhile, in the Nordic countries - once a safe haven for refugees and irregular migrants - the anti-immigrant debate is heating up. The Finnish capital of Helsinki on Tuesday evacuated several Roma camps, following a decision by the city counci - a move similar to the French crackdown last summer.

Denmark, where the government had to give in to demands from the anti-immigrant People's Party when securing a vote on the pension reform - is also going ahead with increased customs controls on its borders.

Danish foreign minister Lene Espersen on Wednesday is expected to travel to Berlin in a bid to smooth over tensions with its southern neighbour over this controversial move. Meetings with the Swedish and the Polish foreign ministers are also scheduled in the coming days.

According to a statement on the Danish justice ministry's website: "The agreement implies a strengthening of policing in order to enable the Danish police to act upon specific requests from customs officers. However, this does not mean that the Danish police will be permanently present at the border."

Neither will passport controls be re-instated or individual checks of every single person crossing the border, the ministry says.

New customs control buildings will be built on the borders and "spot checks" will be carried out, however. Number plates will also be registered using video surveillance.

UK grants highest number of EU citizenships

Over 810,000 people were given EU citizenship in 2010, with the UK topping the list in numbers and Luxembourg agreeing the highest amount in relation to its size.

'No decision expected' for EU decision on unanimous decisions

Swedish minister for European affairs Hans Dahlgren told EUobserver no decision can be expected on majority vote next year. Mikuláš Bek, the Czech minister for European affairs, said enlargement and changes to the decision-making are politically interlinked.

'Cosmetic changes' not enough on EU funds, Hungary warned

Critics point out that Hungary will continue to receive substantial inflows of EU funds since the proposed suspension applies only to around 22 percent of total EU subsidies earmarked for Hungary in the bloc's current budget for 2021-2027.

EU Commission proposes freezing 65% of funds to Hungary

The freezing, the first time in the EU's history using the conditionality mechanism linking EU subsidies to the respect of the rule of law, would suspend money from the bloc's cohesion funds under the 2021-27 long-term budget.

New EU media bill seeks to curtail government meddling

The proposal for a so-called European Media Freedom Act announced on Friday by the European Commission is part of wider efforts to tackle the erosion of rule of law in EU states like Poland and Hungary.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us