Brussels (EFE).- The European Union (EU) agreed on Thursday to take measures to speed up the returns of irregular migrants -today only 21% of expulsion orders are executed- and allocate more funds to protect the external borders.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stressed at a press conference at the end of the meeting the need for countries to remain “united” to achieve results.
He also explained the two lines that the EU is going to work on: on the one hand, advancing towards the European Migration and Asylum Pact, which has been negotiated for two and a half years, and on the other, with operational measures “that can be adopted now.”
Migration was put on the summit’s agenda coinciding with the increase in migratory flows through the Western Balkans and Central Mediterranean routes.
Added to this increase in arrivals is the extreme situation in which the reception systems of many Member States find themselves, such as Belgium or the Netherlands, after the EU received more than four million refugees from Ukraine in just one year.
Another worrying factor, especially for Eastern countries, is that the instrumentalization of migrants like the one that occurred in 2021, when Belarus facilitated the transfer of thousands of Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi citizens to the European borders to try to destabilize the EU.
For these reasons, the EU leaders approved some conclusions that encourage the adoption of operational measures to advance on the most urgent issues, while the European Migration and Asylum Pact continues to be negotiated, which is to be closed by 2024.
The conclusions affect the so-called “external dimension” of migration, the aspect where there is the most consensus at the European level, which involves the protection of external borders, the return of those who do not have the right to request international protection and cooperation with the countries of origin.
Among other elements, they ask the Commission to “finance measures by Member States that contribute directly to the control of the Union’s external borders, such as border management pilot projects, as well as the improvement of border control in key countries in transit routes to the EU’.
They also urge Brussels to “immediately” mobilize funds and means to “help Member States strengthen border protection capabilities and infrastructure, surveillance means, including aerial surveillance, and equipment.”
Von der Leyen said that two pilot projects will be launched at the external borders to speed up returns.
The EU wants to involve Frontex more in protecting the external borders and combating people smuggling. Therefore, he called today to conclude new agreements to deploy Frontex agents also in third countries.
Finally, to combat attempts to instrumentalize migration, the Twenty-seven call for progress on a series of tools, including possible measures against transport operators that participate in or facilitate human trafficking or the smuggling of migrants.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, does not agree that the best solution to the problem of illegal immigration is the idea put forward by several European countries to install fences on the external borders of the EU financed with Community funds.
EU leaders urge to accelerate its green industry before the US plan
The Heads of State and Government of the European Union also urged this Thursday to implement a plan to promote European clean industries, facilitating public aid and accelerating permits for new projects, in order to deal with massive subsidies that the United States or China offer the sector.
The Twenty-seven disagree on the extent to which state aid rules are made more flexible, something that will be specified when there is a definitive proposal from Brussels, and they leave the debate on whether it will be necessary to create a common fund to finance this effort for later.
The leaders debated the Green Deal Industrial Plan proposed last week by the Commission in response to Washington’s law and its $370 billion in subsidies for US-produced green technologies, which threaten to push some European companies away. Atlantic side.
Although negotiations with the United States continue so that European firms receive favorable treatment, the EU has chosen to adopt its own strategy to regain competitiveness also against China, Japan or India, which foresee massive investments in the “green” industry.
They support the proposal to relax the rules on public aid to make it easier for governments to give subsidies, including tax breaks, but insist that the support must be “specific, temporary and proportionate” and target strategic sectors affected by foreign subsidies or high energy prices.
Several States fear that the measure will lead to a race for subsidies, not only with third parties but within the European market itself, and will give a disproportionate advantage to countries with more fiscal leeway, especially after having verified that Germany and France accounted for more than two thirds of the public aid guaranteed by Brussels in the pandemic.
Paris and Berlin are the main defenders of easing, while the Netherlands and the Nordics are the most reluctant to a measure that Spain supports as long as it is temporary and limited to some sectors, according to government sources.
Spain believes that there is a risk of fragmentation of the single market, but also that companies “go to the United States”, which is why it is even open to allowing States to equalize subsidies from non-EU countries when there is a danger that a company will abandon the continent, something on which there is currently no consensus.
To compensate for this flexibility and balance conditions in the Twenty-seven, the leaders call for the use of European financing from instruments already in place, such as the European Investment Bank.