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EU: Police chiefs: nine-point programme on keeping the 'Balkan Route' closed
12 July 2016
The declaration was adopted following a meeting on 30 June in Vienna of police chiefs from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. It was circulated on 5 July by the Austrian delegation to the Council of the EU to other Member States' representatives.
See: Joint Declaration on Managing Migration Flows - Police Chiefs Meeting in Vienna on 30 June 2016
(10933/16, 5 July 2016, pdf)
It calls for the "effective implementation" of the EU-Turkey deal, the "hotspot" approach and cooperation amongst EU agencies such as Frontex, Europol and the European Asylum Support Office.
It goes on to say:
"2. However, a number of migrants stranded along t he Western Balkans route is trying to reach Western and Central Europe. Joint measures of cooperation among the countries of the Western Balkans route as w ell as those coordinat ed by FRONTEX have proven to be successful and should be continued with the support of the Pol ice Chiefs. Taking into account the FRONTEX reinforced joint operations and act ions of preparedness the Police Chiefs stress the need to remain vigilant about potential developments regarding other routes and are ready to take the necessary measures in order to prevent a similar
situation as in 2015.
3. The Police Chiefs agree that the deployment of foreign police officers along borders which are strongly affected by irregular migration conveys a strong message that the countries concerned are resolute in jointly coping with the migration crisis.
4. The Police Chiefs agree that effect ive measures against secondary migration require strict border checks and surveillance at all border sections involved, as well as a coordinated approach and close cooperation regarding the refusal of entry and readmission. While those under strong pressure need the support of the others, they also need to fully assume their own responsibilities in correctly and extensively implementing all necessary measures to ensure a high level of control at external borders. The Police Chiefs stress the importance of the implementation of readmission agreements due to its critical importance for the effective prevention of illegal migration.
5. As migration routes may change quickly, and the pressure on the region as a whole is very high, and as a common policy of readmission and refusal of entry is needed, the Police Chiefs agree to increase coordination of actions and adjustment of measures according to the developments. The Police Chiefs stress the need for a regular mutual exchange of information, including with FRONTEX and Europol, on current migration flows affecting their countries and related national measures."
A further four points concern "the fight against human smuggling and human trafficking in connection with migration flows"; "the need for joint patrols, common action and monitoring at authorized border crossing points"; and the need for the support of Frontex in implementing the actions and raising awareness amongst other Member States.
Vienna played host to the police chiefs meeting and is also home to a new 'Joint Operational Office Against Human Smuggling Networks'. See: International investigative bureau in Vienna to combat “migrant smuggling”
(Matthias Monroy, link)
This is far from the first time that European police chiefs have intervened in debates on migration and refugees. See: Police chiefs want non-EU countries to "prevent irregular migration from happening"
(Statewatch News Online, January 2015)