Ireland is considering contributing personnel to help cope with the mammoth task of sorting and relocating asylum-seekers from camps in Greece and Italy to other member states.
The reinforcing of Frontex, the EU’s border agency, measures to ensure countries expel refugees not qualifying for asylum and that they register all third-country nationals that cross into the EU were agreed by justice ministers yesterday.
They defended their approach with Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg justice minister, who chaired the meeting, saying strengthening borders and returning those who were not entitled to asylum was part of the fight against illegal migration.
The EU could not have a permanent system to redistribute asylum seekers from frontline countries unless the borders were properly managed.
“If we cannot manage our external border there is a very great risk that Schengen will not survive,” he said, referring to the border-free travel area of which Ireland and Britain are not a part.
While Ireland has opted-out of the EU Directive on Returns introduced in 2008, it has joined with other countries and Frontex in sharing flights to return refugees whose request to remain in the country has been rejected.
The Department of Justice said there would be no change in the arrangement, and said it would be “examining the request over the next few days” on providing personnel to help with ‘hotspots’ in Greece and Italy.
Each country on the EU’s periphery is responsible for its own border but the agreement, expected to be approved also by EU leaders at their summit next week, will put much more emphasis on joint efforts.
Shared systems already in place such as the Schengen Information System and Smart Borders that hold records of third-country nationals entering the EU are to be used more comprehensively by member states.
Just about 40%, or 200,000, of the half a million people refused permission to stay in the EU each year actually leave, according to the European Commission.
A system to establish Frontex Rapid Return Intervention Teams is to be produced by the Commission by December, while the Returns Directive that allows detention for up to 18 months of people to be returned, is to be beefed up.
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