Posted on February 9, 2024

EU Border Agency Says Stopping Migration Is Impossible

Gabriela Baczynska, Reuters, February 7, 2024

Irregular immigration to the EU from Western Africa rose more than ten times on the year in January, according to the bloc’s Frontex border agency, which expects overall arrivals to grow in 2024 and says halting the movement of people completely is impossible.

Frontex head Hans Leijtens spoke in his Warsaw office ahead of a trip by the EU chief executive and Spanish prime minister on Thursday to Mauritania, which has recently become a major point of departure for Europe.

Asked about a June EU-wide parliamentary election, in which migration is a top issue, the former Dutch border guard told Reuters that stopping irregular arrivals completely was not realistic.

“Migration is a global phenomenon. We need to manage migration because we can’t cope with unmanaged migration to Europe,” he said. “But a full stop – for me that seems very difficult, not to say impossible.”

Leijtens said orderly management of the bloc’s external borders was an important part of a broader “European portfolio” needed to face the challenge and stressed the need for EU development and other aid to foreign countries.

Last year, Frontex recorded 380,000 irregular border crossings, the highest since 2016. That marked another consecutive year of growth since the 2020 COVID pandemic lows, a trend Leijtens saw holding in 2024.

“I don’t think there will be a new trend in terms of the numbers going down,” he said, expecting more people from sub-Saharan Africa to seek to get to Europe, while the situation of Palestinians fleeing Gaza was uncertain.

“I don’t want to sound very alarmist but I think it’s an assumption that can be proven right.”

Those fleeing wars have the right to asylum in the EU {snip} Africans are mostly seen as labour migrants and the bloc wants to keep a tight lid on such arrivals.