European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for “immediate action” to be taken on migration by the European Union (EU). During a European Parliament session, she highlighted the increasing pressures at the EU’s external borders, as indicated by the 330,000 irregular border crossings recorded by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) in 2022, a 64% increase from the previous year.
The President emphasized that a vast majority of asylum seekers do not require protection, yet return rates remain low at 22%. To address these pressing issues, the European Commission will present “immediate action” in four areas to EU leaders at a migration summit on February 9-10.
One of the most critical areas is the land border between Bulgaria and Turkey, where von der Leyen stressed that border management capabilities must be strengthened. This could be done through the provision of infrastructure and equipment such as drones and radar, as well as increasing FRONTEX’s presence.
The EU must also tackle the growing migratory pressures in the Central Mediterranean and crack down on smuggling networks. The bloc should strive for quicker and more dignified returns for asylum seekers whose applications were denied, and promote solidarity and responsibility between member states in managing applications.
Finally, the EU must find a fair balance in cooperation with neighboring countries and countries of origin through measures such as talent partnerships, visa policy, trade, and investment, as well as offering safe and legal pathways as part of a comprehensive approach to migration management.
Von der Leyen stated that these actions are necessary to make a real difference on the ground and manage migration effectively.
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