12 EU states call for toughening EU border protection

Joint letter asks EU financial support for physical barriers, refuses 'instrumentalization of illegal migration'.

12 EU states call for toughening EU border protection

Twelve EU member states asked the European Commission to strengthen measures against irregular migration and financially support physical barriers at the bloc’s external borders.

The interior ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, the Greek Cypriot administration, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia addressed the European Commission and the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU in a joint letter ahead of the meeting of home affairs ministers later on Friday.

The letter, titled Adaption of the EU legal framework to new realities, called for an update on the Schengen Border Code, the EU legislation on external and internal borders of the bloc to ensure that all outside frontiers would be “protected with maximum level of security.”

The signatories also called for an “abuse-resistant” EU migration and asylum policy that offers “swift and concrete solutions and strong response to counter the instrumentalization of illegal migration and other hybrid threats.”

“No third country should be able to make use of our asylum system for the purposes of exerting political pressure and blackmailing the EU and its Member States, or exploit the present situation in Afghanistan," they stressed.

The twelve countries also noted that border surveillance systems are not sufficient “to prevent illegal border crossings” and asked for adequate EU funding for setting up physical barriers because “they appear to be an effective border protection measure that serves the interest of the whole EU, not just member states of first arrival.”

The letter resonates with the bloc’s dispute with the Belarussian government.

According to the EU, President Alexander Lukashenko had invited tourists from countries that are the main sources of migration to the EU in order to revenge EU sanctions against his regime.

“This year, we have already seen more than 6,000 irregular arrivals coming across Belarus-EU border compared to barely 150 last year,” EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson told EU lawmakers on Tuesday.

But the letter’s suggestion on setting up physical barriers on the bloc’s external borders and toughening protection measures, in reality, legalizes pushbacks according to human rights organizations since it deprives asylum-seekers of the chance to officially present their claim which is against international law.

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Hüseyin Demir

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