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EU migration agenda highlights its shortcomings
- This can mean the application of more broad policy leverage. In this respect, the revised EU Visa Code, in force from February 2020, will be one important additional tool, providing the EU the possibility to adopt restrictive visa measures for third countries which do not cooperate sufficiently on readmission.
25.10.19

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The European Commission has published a: Progress report on the Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration (COM 481-19, pdf) and a: Press release (pdf).

SITUATION ALONG THE MAIN MIGRATION ROUTES

"Overall, the migratory situation across all routes has returned to pre-crisis levels with the arrivals in September 2019 around 90% lower than in September 2015. But the situation remains volatile. In the first eight months of 2019, around 70,800 irregular border crossings were detected at the EU’s external borders. Moreover, as of 7 October 2019 almost 1,100 migrants have been reported dead or missing while crossing the Mediterranean." [emphasis added throughout]

Eastern Mediterranean route

Recently, there has been a significant increase in arrivals to the Greek islands. From the beginning of 2019 to 6 October, more than 47,500 arrivals were recorded in Greece (by sea and by land), a 29% increase on the same period in 2018. Most of this increase has come through arrivals to the Aegean Islands, with an acceleration since the month of June; arrivals via the land border in 2019 are 27% lower than in the same period of 2018. The months of July, August and September 2019 had the highest monthly levels of arrivals recorded since the EU-Turkey Statement came into effect. The result has been a further deterioration of conditions on the Aegean Islands, where the situations increasingly challenging, with as of 6 October more than 31,000 people present in hotspots designed for a maximum of around 8,000. (...)

the number of people returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement has fallen to its lowest level since 2016."

Central Mediterranean route

"Overall, irregular arrivals remain low on the Central Mediterranean route, despite a significant increase of arrivals to Malta, which has seen more than 2,800 arrivals in 2019 up to 6 October, an almost threefold increase on the same period of 2018."

Western Mediterranean/Atlantic route

"While Spain saw the largest number of irregular arrivals to the EU in 2018, with almost 64,300 arrivals, since February 2019 monthly arrivals have been significantly reduced compared to 2018. The total number of arrivals to Spain by the beginning of October 2019 was around 23,600, a 47% decrease compared to the same period in 2018."

The EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016

"Turkey is today facing increasing migration pressure, as instability in the wider region remains. The number of irregular migrants apprehended by the Turkish authorities in 2019 so far is close to 270,000. In particular, there has been a rise in the number of Afghan nationals arriving irregularly and being apprehended in Turkey. Turkey announced in May 2019 that it intended to return around 100,000 Afghan nationals to their home country until the end of the year."

"Returns of all new irregular migrants from Greece to Turkey under the Statement is a continuous challenge. Greece has managed to return only 1,908 migrants under the Statement, with the pace slowing and around 100 returns this year. This is a major obstacle to progress, also linked to the lengthy asylum procedures currently in place in Greece."

Return and Readmission

"According to data reported to Eurostat, 478,155 persons illegally staying in the EU were ordered to leave in 2018, and 170,380 were effectively returned to a third country. This resulted in a return rate of 36% for 2018, a slight reduction from 2017 (return rate of 37%) (...)

More work needed on return and readmission

The 23 readmission agreements and arrangements in force - supported by EU-funded case management tools, capacity building projects for third countries and exchanges of liaison officers – bring benefits in terms of a better level of cooperation and more effective operational flows, and further agreements and arrangements are being explored as part of developing relations with partners. However, results remain disappointing in terms of the number of persons returned. (...)

Both the negotiation and implementation of readmission instruments rely on a strong and consistent message that the EU and its Member States have the expectation of cooperation by the third county concerned. This can mean the application of more broad policy leverage. In this respect, the revised EU Visa Code, in force from February 2020, will be one important additional tool, providing the EU the possibility to adopt restrictive visa measures for third countries which do not cooperate sufficiently on readmission. Additional incentives and leverages should be sought also in other policy areas, on a case by case approach."

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