Europol agents on the Greek islands
Till the end of June , up to 50 ‘guest officers’ will be deployed by Europol on rotation at key points on the external border of the EU to strengthen the security checks on the inward flows of migrants, in order to identify suspected terrorists and criminals, a EUROPOL press release announced.
They will help reinforce security at the external borders of the EU by
- supporting the secondary security check process,
- by cross-checking data against data held in specialist counter-terrorist and other databases at Europol, and
- by facilitating rapid and secure information exchange between Member States.
This will not include first line border control, although the officers will work closely with those from Frontex involved in such a task. The officers will work under the responsibility and legal framework of the country of deployment.
Europol’s Management Board approved the recruitment of up to 200 counter-terrorist and other investigators for deployment to migration hotspots in Greece and other countries, EUROPOL press release said, adding that . Europol will form this pool of law enforcement officers through their secondment from national services in EU Member States.
Undercover agents already arrived
On previous weeks, the Slovenian director of Europol’s newly-established European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) Robert Crepinko, had told on an interview that 10 undercover officers had already been stationed on the islands of Chios, Samos, Lesvos and Leros where refugee registration centers are in operation, as well as in Piraeus Port, doing secondary security checks to assess the possibly dangerous migrants before they would enter the EU
Crepinko added that the Europol agents would also offer aid to the Greek authorities, in the effort to locate and stop migrant smugglers operating in Greece.
New trafficking migration routes in Europe
The Slovenian official said that “We are looking into possible new routes that the migrant smuggling networks would use and we already have some developments in the new routes that have been used by organized crime,” , citing information that migrant traffickers are exploring options through Albania and Bulgaria.
Arrivals drop in Greece , rise in Italy
“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic.” Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said on Friday , presenting the data of 90 percent drop on the number of migrants arriving in the Greek islands in April, compared to the previous month.
But for the first time in a year, the latest UN figures present more migrants arriving in Italy than Greece, trying to make their way into Europe
9,149 migrants arrived to the shores of Italy in April, while Greece received 3,462 people, figures of the UN’s refugee agency show.
Fewer than 2,700 people had entered in April.the European Union’s border agency Frontex said Friday, putting the drop down to the effect of the EU’s migrant agreement with Turkey and tight border controls at the Greek -FYROM border.
In March, before the EU-Turkey deal came into force, under which Ankara pledged to take back migrants from Greece, 26,971 people arrived to Greece, while 9,676 arrived to Italy.
Different countries of origin
But migrants arriving in Italy are not coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three major groups trying their luck through Greece.
Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations.
Concerns that migrants will increasingly take the Italian route have prompted fears of another mass influx, leading Austria to plan to restrict access through the its Brenner border crossing with Italy, the eurobserver wrote.
The EU Commission has expressed concern over the effect this could have on the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone.
Transport and tourism harmed say MEPs
Several MEPs at the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.on Wednesday May 11, demanded, addressing to the European Commissioner on Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the lift of “intermediate steps of Schengen roadmap”, and warned the Commissioner that the internal border checks could seriously harm both transport and tourism in Europe.
Avramopoulos : there is no Plan B
Rumors that move EU – Turkey agreement focus form Turkey to Greece as a “plan b”, are not real
the European Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos answered to the European Parliament and underled that there is only one plan based on solidarity and tackling of traffickers on EU – Turkey deal implementations. Avramopoulos stressed that “rumours can do only harm” .
“till the end of the year”
These border checks are “exceptional and temporary” European Commissioner said, assuring the MEPs that the aim is to lift them by the end of the year, at the latest
This happened on parallel, on the same day that President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation
Martin Schultz: I stopped Visa process
“The Turkish Parliament has not yet fulfilled and I stopped the process”, said Martin Schulz, explaining why the Commission sent to the European Parliament the 72 visa liberalisation benchmarks of which seven , he said are not yet met .“This is a point of disagreement, we should not hide it,” Martin Schulz added talking to the reporters on a press conference with the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs.This happened on parallel, on the same day that President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation
Martin Schulz said that
the scope of Turkey’s anti-terror laws were “so far reaching that we think that some of the measures are touching not directly the fight against terrorism but, for example, the freedom of expression and of media.”
The EU-Turkey deal in dangerous moments
“We are trying to save the package,” Volkan Bozkır, the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator told the reporters .
Volkan Bozkır described as parts of the package the opening of chapters, the €3 billion plus €3 billion, energy platforms, economy and customs union and also EU – Turkey readmission agreement
The deal between the EU and Turkey to end the migrant crisis is facing “a very dangerous moment” Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said, heightening more tension between the two sides in honoring the deal, whie Europe is seeing the recent encouraging results