EU representatives have reached an informal agreement on streamlining coordination between immigration liaison officers working in non-EU countries.
The European Parliament and EU presidency have agreed on a proposed regulation to improve the EU’s current network of almost 500 liaison officers, who are deployed to third countries to build communication with authorities on issued pertaining to migration. The measures agreed upon by negotiators include:
- The establishment of an EU-level steering board to manage and coordinate the immigration liaison officer network as a whole, ensure clear lines of communication and allocate funds;
- Increased powers for liaison officers working to combat the smuggling of migrants;
- Officers to collect data on migration flows and patterns to facilitate the prevention of irregular migration and support Member States’ management of their external borders; and
- Officers to be given the power to assist Member States in returning irregular non-EU nationals to their home countries.
Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Daniela Dan said: “Coordination between member states in cooperation with third countries is essential to make sure the EU’s response to migration is as strong as possible. These new rules will allow us to make the most of the activities of our liaison officers on the ground, including in areas such as returns and fighting migrant smuggling.”
Meanwhile the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has approved a measure which increases the EU’s budget for border reinforcement and issues of asylum and migration. The 2021-2027 Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund will see a 51 per cent increase to €9.2 billion, aimed at:
- Boosting Member States’ common asylum policy;
- Aligning legal migration with the social and economic needs of host countries;
- Addressing problems of irregular migration; and
- Facilitating the return of irregular migrants to their home nations.
MEPs noted the distribution of the fund must guarantee “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states, in particular towards those most affected by migration challenges, including through practical cooperation”.