Top MEP warns of ‘huge challenge’ to EU
The EU must take decisive steps to stop illegal migration and consider putting up fences at the bloc’s external borders, Manfred Weber, the president of the European People’s Party (EPP), has stated.
Speaking on Sunday to Funke media group newspapers, Weber pointed to an increase in the number of illegal border crossings into the EU. He warned that the bloc’s members could “sleepwalk into a new migration crisis if they don’t act now.”
“This huge challenge must finally be taken seriously,” the president of the largest party in the European parliament said.
Weber suggested that “if necessary, fences must also be built, for example in the south-east of the EU” in order to control the migrant influx, urging the bloc to support funding for the constructions, and calling for efforts to boost patrol activities at the external borders.
The MEP has expressed similar concerns about migration in the past, claiming that Berlin was not doing anything to address the looming challenges, and warning that the situation could become even worse due to the Ukraine conflict.
Last week, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the EU must help Romania and Bulgaria to handle border security, adding that it is time to break the “fence taboo” by putting up fences at the border between Bulgaria and Türkiye.
According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), more than 308,000 “irregular entries” into the EU were registered in the first 11 months of 2022. The figure is an increase of 68% compared to the same period last year. The data also indicates that most illegal border crossings take place in the western Balkans, as well as the central and eastern Mediterranean.
The refugee situation could be exacerbated by the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Europe, warned last month that 2 to 3 million Ukrainians could leave their homes and migrate to other locations. As things currently stand, more than 4.8 million Ukrainian refugees are registered under various protection schemes across the EU, according to UN data.