Increasing numbers of mainly male refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019. From there they headed for Croatia and Slovenia in order to illegally enter the European Union. Austrian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Georg Mayer considered that a “refugee crisis is looming which threatens to reach 2015 levels” and raised the issue with the European Commission.
In November 2019, Austrian MEP Georg Mayer of the Identity and Democracy Group (ID) asked the Commission for its assessment of the situation of refugee arrivals in Europe and requested details on the additional precautions that “have been taken since 2015 to effectively protect the EU’s external borders?”
MEP Mayer also enquired “are there contingency plans which can be implemented at short notice and where needed in order to provide extra support for Member States which are badly affected by illegal mass immigration into the EU?” and “what precise shape do these plans take?”
In April 2020, Home Affairs Commissioner ,Ylva Johansson, responded that “the Commission is aware of the situation at the external borders with the Western Balkans” and “the current situation, however, is not comparable to the situation in 2015”.
Commissioner Johansson explained that “the European Agenda on Migration set out the different steps the European Union should take to build up a coherent and comprehensive approach to migration, notably to strengthen the protection of the external borders’ and that “the Commission has regularly reported on the implementation of the measures of the Agenda on Migration”.
The Commissioner went on to emphasize that “as announced in President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines and the Commission Work Programme 2020, the Commission will soon present a new comprehensive Pact on Asylum and Migration covering all aspects of migration, also addressing border management and ensuring more coherence between our internal and external policies”.
Ms Johansson highlighted that “the Commission provides operational, technical and financial support to the Member States and to the Western Balkans countries to ensure effective migration management, including capacity building to deal with contingencies”. She added that “the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) was reinforced through a new legal framework in 2019, which included the setting up of a standing corps of 10 000 operational staff to be built up gradually” and that “first deployments will start on 1 January 2021”. She also added that “the Agency can deploy teams and equipment for rapid border intervention at the external border, upon request of the Member States affected by irregular migration”.
“The Commission, together with the relevant Union agencies (Frontex, European Asylum Support Office, Europol), can also mobilise migration management support teams to assist the Member States affected by mixed migration flows,’ concluded the Commissioner Johansson.
Despite Commissioner Johansson’s response, irregular migration, particularly from countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains a complex challenge for the European Union which still has to be addressed.
Photo Credit : https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2019-year-refugees-urged-return-191223141843815.html