European Union and Anti-Irregular Migration Activities

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Irregular migration has been a concern for the European Union (EU) and the world for years. In recent years, it is seen that the migration movements that started especially as of the period described as the Arab Spring have progressed from North African and Middle Eastern countries to the West. All these developments are among the issues experienced by various EU countries that have received immigration from abroad in the past in line with the recruitment of workers. For this reason, the EU has taken and continues to take various steps to minimize the impact of the irregular migration wave.

Especially after the civil war that broke out in Syria in 2011, millions of Syrians began to leave their country and migrate to various neighboring countries or Europe. In order to prevent this migration, the EU has signed diplomatic agreements with various countries and aimed to reduce the intensity of migration. In this context, the EU wanted to ensure its own security by limiting migration. The Covid-19 outbreak, which started in 2019, reduced irregular migration movements for a while, but did not provide complete protection. For this reason, the EU is carrying out various studies on the repatriation of migrants. In this context, the association has taken 340,500 new decisions in 2021. However, only 21% of these decisions were implemented by the EU.

On the other hand, the union has public support on its way to securing its own citizens. Recently, it has been seen that far-right activities are on an upward trend in Europe and the world. Therefore, in European countries, far-right governments and leaders who come to office with the promise of removing refugees from the country come to the forefront. The most striking name in this regard was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

In addition, Meloni mentioned in many of her speeches that she would send migrants out of the country. In this way, she was able to get the votes of the Italian people. This proves that far-right incidents are on the rise in Europe.  Meloni, who has been criticized by other states since the day she took office, is cautious and tries to divert attention.

Greece, on the other hand, has recently engaged in the construction of a wall on its borders, thus trying to cut off the flow of irregular migrants. Greece propagandizes that it is protecting the EU border thanks to its policy. Because the closest country to the war that is included in the EU is Greece. This can be interpreted as an effort by Italy and Greece to protect the borders of the EU.  At the same time, Greece is often on the agenda with the sinking of boats and the abandonment of illegal immigrants to die at sea.

However, the European Commission has suggested a 50% increase in the demand for asylum in developed European countries. In this context, the commission stated that the number of asylum applications made to European countries in 2022 was 924,000.[1] The EU has also announced a package of sanctions against countries that do not comply with inspections, regulations, and cooperation on irregular migrants.[2]

As it will be remembered, only 21% of irregular migrants to Europe could be sent to their home countries.[3] As can be understood, the EU aims to control the activities of the refugees it wants to deport in terms of ensuring their return to their own countries.  In this context, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, stated that they should intensify the extraditions and announced that they wanted to make various return agreements with the countries of origin (Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Tunisia, etc.).[4]

In addition to all these, it is possible to say that the EU population is aging and the need for labor force in the union is increasing. Hence, some of the irregular migrants can be integrated into various business lines. Accordingly, Catherine Woollard, Director of the European Council for Refugees and Exile, suggested that there are various pathways for economic migrants and that activities can be developed to increase the intake of economic migrants, which has been in decline for 20 years.[5] This indicates that the EU is uncomfortable with the unqualified section of irregular migrants.

As a result, EU member states are implementing relatively successful crisis management on irregular migration based on their past experiences. This means that countries aim for a much more limited and qualified migration compared to the states they have signed agreements and turned into buffer zones on an annual basis or other actors bordering the Arab Spring. Despite this, in addition to returning incoming migrants, the EU is also making attempts to prevent new immigration purchases and trying to sign cooperation agreements with countries of origin.  From this point of view, it can be argued that in line with the support of the European public opinion, the EU members will shape their approach to the issue of migration with the influence of the rising far right.

[1] Isabel da Silva, “Brussels Unveils Plan to Boost Returns of Irregular Migrants”, Euronews,, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2022).

[2] “Not Acceptable: EU Vows to Punish ‘Uncooperative’ Countries Over Migration”, Euronews,, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2022).

[3] Silva, a.g.m.

[4] “Not Acceptable: EU Vows to Punish ‘Uncooperative’ Countries Over Migration”, Euronews,, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2022).

[5] Silva, a.g.m.