European States need to step up expulsions of undocumented foreigners or else “the migrant problem will not be resolved”, Fabrice Leggieri, head of the European border agency Frontex, said on Thursday in an interview with the Ebra media group. “Member States need to take more effective deportation decisions and to implement them better,” he told the French regional press group.
Even if illegal entries into Europe dropped from 1.2 million in 2015 to “about 75,000” this year, the number of migrants illegally residing on European soil “keeps increasing”, the Frontex head said, adding that last year there were “151,000 deportations for 204,700 irregular entries”.
“If we continue like this, we are sending an implicit message to potential migrants: try at all cost to come into Europe, because even if you are caught, you have every chance of remaining,” he argued, warning of a risk that “clandestine migrants might create a form of parallel society in certain neighbourhoods, functioning like a black market, like ‘bubbles’ where the law does not apply,” which “is intolerable in a State under the rule of law.”
Leggieri also urged States to “harmonise their rules and procedures” for explusions, suggesting that “a deportation decision take by a State in the Schengen space should be applicable in another State if the foreigner has gone in the meantime from one country to the other (…) otherwise we force ourselves to start over the entire procedure each time.”
With European Governments locked in a tussle over migrants following Italy’s refusal to allow ships to land, as in the case of the Aquarius in June, Leggieri recalled the “right to rescue of people” at sea.
However, “the real issue is: where to disembark them? Why systematically in Europe?”, he asked, repeating an argument developed in June. “The issue is to set up disembarcation platforms that respect the law, that allow people to have access to asylum,” he said, without mentioning countries that could be involved in this.