The EU’s border agency Frontex will spend around €100m this year to return unwanted and rejected asylum seekers.
This is reported by EUobserver.
In 2021, the agency returned about 18,300 people. According to Uku Särekanno, the agency’s deputy director, this figure increased last year. He also noted that the agency also intends to launch anti-smuggling operations in ports such as Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The EU says that of the 330,000 illegal border crossings recorded and reported last year, more than a third were in the Western Balkans.
Last year, almost a million people applied for asylum. According to the European Commission, about 60% of them will receive a negative asylum decision.
“We have seen a lot of Moroccans, Egyptians, Tunisians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Turks, Cubans, Indians, and of course effective return is very important,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ilva Johansson said last week.
The EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, reports that of the 342,100 people ordered to leave the country in 2021, only 24 percent returned.
“Certainly, for this year you will see a very significant increase of return operations and also hopefully the number of people who will be returned,” Särekanno said.
EU member states have been fighting for years to return people who they believe have no right to stay in the country.
Political discussions and proposed solutions have also been going on for years, including during the work of the previous commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker.
But some states in Africa and other regions do not consider this a priority, preferring legal pathways for work and education.
In the past, the African Union has also criticized EU efforts to provide travel tickets to unwanted migrants who do not have proper identity documents.
But as Frontex has gained more capacity to return people to their countries, the EU has also increased pressure on foreign states to start accepting their citizens back.
“The EU should use all available policies, tools, and instruments including development trade and visas as leverage to increase the effectiveness of the EU’s return policy,” said Maria Malmer Stenergard, Sweden’s minister of migration, on behalf of the rotating EU presidency.