The two-day EU summit in Brussels was dominated by the appearance of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. In addition to Ukraine, immigration also played an important role. In 2022, the number of illegal EU border crossings was higher than it had been for years.
An EU summit has been taking place in Brussels since yesterday, to which Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky also traveled after stays in London and Paris. Ahead of the meeting with EU leaders, Zelensky gave a speech in the European Parliament, thanking MEPs for their support in this “all-out war”:
“I want to thank all of you who are helping Ukraine, supporting them with arms, with ammunition, with energy supplies, with fuel, with the thousands of things that we need in this all-out war that we cannot do without.”
Special thanks went to Zelensky Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, for her commitment to the European-Ukrainian lifestyle. Metsola is positive about possible fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine, which Zelensky is demanding:
“Now, as a next step, states must consider rapidly deploying long-range systems and aircraft.”
The EU summit confirmed several plans to support Ukraine in its war with Russia. So one is ready to further tighten the sanctions against Russia. It was also reaffirmed that Ukraine’s future lies in the EU. There is still no timetable. A further 500 million euros in military aid and the training of 30,000 soldiers have been earmarked for 2023.
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Illegal immigration to the EU
In addition to Ukraine and questions about the economic situation in the EU, the protection of the EU’s external borders was an issue. In a statement, the EU reiterated its determination to effectively control its external land and sea borders. However, for more effective control of the EU’s external borders, the EU must step up its measures.
The aim here is to prevent illegal entries, reduce the pressure on the borders, fight smugglers and carry out more deportations. One way to make deportations more effective would be to ensure that decisions made by one member state are equally valid in all others.
In addition, a uniform return and readmission policy is needed, under which more pressure must be exerted on the countries of origin to take back the deported persons.
On Friday morning, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced two pilot projects. The first envisages securing the border between EU country Bulgaria and Turkey with vehicles, cameras, roads and watchtowers. The second pilot project deals with the registration of migrants, a fast asylum procedure and returns at the external border.
The financing of border fences, which Austria and Greece are demanding, is rejected by the EU and member states such as Germany and Luxembourg with reference to their alleged ineffectiveness.
The example of Poland, which has erected a 187-kilometer fence on its border with Belarus, shows that border fortifications can be very effective. From January to November 2022, only 14,900 people crossed the border illegally. In 2021 it was almost 40,000.
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“Biggest refugee crisis since World War II”
In mid-December, Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs in Brussels, emphasized: “We have the biggest refugee crisis here since the Second World War.” In its risk analysis for the years up to 2032, the EU border authority Frontex expects migration pressure to continue to increase.
In 2022, the number of asylum applications rose by almost 50 percent to 924,000 compared to the previous year. There were also around four million Ukrainians who do not have to apply for asylum in the EU.
Frontex registered around 280,000 irregular entries last year, 77 percent more than in the previous year. The main countries of origin of the asylum seekers are Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt.
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