EU Leaders Claim They Will Tighten Borders Amid Migration Surge

Workers repair the barbed wire wall border fence on the Bulgaria-Turkey border near the vi

European Union leaders claim they will increase security on the bloc’s common external border after illegal arrivals topped 330,000 last year, the highest number since the 2015-16 migrant crisis.

Several leaders of European Union member-states have expressed great concern over the surging number of illegal arrivals — even Irish taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who has hirthero pursued a relatively open borders approach to migration.

“European countries are experiencing a big increase in the number of people who are coming from outside Europe on an irregular basis,” Varadkar admitted.

“It’s important that we, as Europeans decide who enters our countries, not the human traffickers… Those who gain refugee status have the right to remain but others don’t, and they should be returned,” he added, according to an Ekathimerini report.

Ireland has seen a surge of illegal migrant arrivals in recent months and the growing migrant crisis in the country has become a key election issue, according to polling released last month.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer, whose country also saw a surge of arrivals via the Balkan migration route last year, stated: “We need to ‘pull the brake’ on illegal migration in the EU.”

“We need the money for it, no matter if you call it a fence or border infrastructure. Bulgaria needs help when it comes to border surveillance and personnel, with technical equipment, every fence is only as good as there is effective surveillance,” he added.

But while countries like Austria, Hungary and others want to see more border barriers and walls to help stem the tide of illegals, Xavier Bettel, the prime minister for the tiny but influential European Union power base of Luxembourg, spoke out against the policy.

Other countries have suggested further measures, however, including a Dutch proposal to restrict visas to countries that refuse to take back their nationals after they have been deported.

Swedish migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard commented on the proposal last month, saying: “Should intensified political and diplomatic efforts not produce the desired results, member-states call on the [European] Commission to come back to the [European] Council with proposals on visa restrictions.”

Italy, which saw over 100,000 illegal arrivals in 2022, has also put forward its own proposals, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni — considering a migration hawk prior to her election — retreading old proposals to increase funding to countries in Africa in order to stimulate their local economies, in the hope that this will deter people from making the dangerous journey to Europe.

The exact number of deaths of migrants trying to reach Europe by dangerous sea and land routes last year is not known, but a Spanish NGO, Caminando Fronteras, has claimed this week that at least 464 people either died or went missing last year while trying to reach Spain from Algeria alone.

Some have estimated that, since 2014, over 29,000 people have been led to their deaths by unscrupulous people-smugglers who profit from facilitating illegal immigration and outright human trafficking.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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