By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The president of the European Commission urged the EU to take “immediate action” Wednesday on migration, including the reinforcement of infrastructure at land border between Türkiye and Bulgaria.
Speaking at the European Parliament plenary session, Ursula von der Leyen said, “there are without any doubt increasing pressures” at the EU’s external borders.
She said the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) registered 330,000 irregular border crossings in 2022 which was up 64% from the previous year and the highest since 2016.
Von der Leyen stressed that “the majority of those who apply for asylum are not in need of protection” while return rates remain as low as 22%.
To make a “real difference on the ground,” the European Commission will propose “immediate action” in four areas to EU leaders at a special summit on migration on Feb. 9 - 10, she said.
“The most pressing issues right now are at the land border between Bulgaria and Türkiye” and the border management capabilities need to be strengthened, according to von der Leyen.
Under the Commission’s proposal, the EU could provide “infrastructure and equipment, like drones, radar and other means of surveillance” and increase FRONTEX’s presence, she said.
In addition, the EU should also address the growing migratory pressure in the Central Mediterranean and crack down on smuggling networks.
The bloc also has to ensure more and qiucker dignified returns of those whose asylum application was refused, as well as “solidarity and responsibility” between member states in managing applications, she said.
As the fourth point of action, the EU must find a “fair balance” in cooperation with neighboring countries and countries of origin.
“Talent partnerships, visa policy, trade, and investment play an important role here, as well as opportunities for safe and legal pathways as part of our overall comprehensive approach to migration management,” said von der Leyen.