The protection of maritime borders and the fight against illegal activities of migrant smugglers was addressed by the leaders of the Member States in the European Council of 28-29 June 2018. The meeting felt the need for more rules to establish well traffickers’ activities from Libya or from other countries, warning all ships operating in the Mediterranean not only to comply with the laws provided but also not to interfere with the operations of the Libyan coastguard.
There are currently four EU operations in the Mediterranean: the Poseidon, Themis, and Minerva – Indalo missions of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex, operations with Greece, Italy and Spain. The European Naval Force in the central-southern Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR Med – operation SOPHIA, is the first European maritime security military operation operating in the central Mediterranean. The operation, conducted by Italy, has as its main purpose the fight against illicit trafficking in human beings and the commitment aimed at ensuring, according to a comprehensive and integrated approach, the return of stability and security is part of the wider commitment in Libya. Operation SOPHIA is the first example of high integration of the European military and civilian (police forces) components, integrated in a complex international scenario made up of numerous military and civilian operators, governmental and non-governmental.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) was established with Regulation (EC) no. 2007/2004 (with the original name of the European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the Member States of the European Union), and lastly reformed with Regulation (EU) 2016/1624, supported the European countries i countries associated with the Schengen zone in the management of their external borders.
The Agency ensures harmonization of border controls across the EU and facilitates collaboration between the border authorities of individual countries. The user provides technical assistance and know-how; the Agency can coordinate the dispatch of additional technical equipment and border personnel, and operations at external sea and land borders. Frontex’s areas of expertise include: risk analysis; joint operations; quick answer; Research; Training; joint returns; exchange of information.
Presented by the European Commission in September 2018, the proposal for a regulation COM (2018) 631 aims to strengthen the European Border and Coast Guard system, inter alia, by providing Frontex with a permanent body of 10,000 operating units authorized to carry out tasks involving executive competences. The regulation also strengthens the Agency’s mandate by providing for its greater involvement in supporting the return procedure of the Member States and cooperation with the third countries concerned.
On 20 February 2019, the Council adopted its negotiating position on the Commission proposal and, on the basis of the mandate, a political agreement was reached with the European Parliament on 28 March 2019. On April 1, 2019, the agreement was confirmed in the Council.
With regard to Italy, together with Spain and Slovenia, it voted against the proposal, considering the measure of the permanent body too burdensome (quantified in about 11 billion euros, according to the Commission; the proposal would therefore subtract national resources required from Member States for the management of their respective borders; however, it would not be effective as regards return policy.
Based on the inter-institutional law of March 2019, on 17 April 2019, the European Parliament approved the first reading position on the reform, which is still awaiting formal assumption by the Council.
The Themis operation, active in the central Mediterranean, assists Italy with the flows from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Albania. The operation continues to deal with the search and rescue of migrants at sea but also focuses on fighting crime, in particular on intelligence activity and other actions aimed at detecting foreign fighters and other terrorist threats at external borders EU, supported by customs officials from Frontex in the registration of migrants. All Assets Assigned The assumption of operational activity under the command of the Ministry of the area.
The most important change in the replacement of the mission concerns the fact that the rescued migrants must be landed in the port closest to the point where the rescue was guaranteed at sea.
The mandate of the military naval mission EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, starting from June 2015, consists in identifying, stopping and eliminating boats and vehicles used or suspected of being used by the networks of irregular trafficking in migrants and human trafficking in the central and southern Mediterranean. Further support tasks were progressively assigned to the operation: training the Libyan coastguard and navy; contribute to the implementation of the UN embargo on arms on the high seas off the Libyan coast; carry out surveillance and collection of information on the illicit trafficking of oil exports from Libya.
The Italian government has repeatedly called for a revision of the operational plan of EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, in the part in which (by referring to the rules of engagement of the no longer in force Frontex Triton mission) it is expected that the landing of any rescued migrants must take place in Italian ports.
On 29 March 2019, the Council of the EU extended the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA until 30 September 2019. The EU Council has specified that the operation commander has received instructions to temporarily suspend, for operational reasons, the deployment of the naval forces of the operation for the duration of this extension, and that EU Member States will continue to work , in the appropriate fora, to a solution to the problem of landings in the context of the follow-up to be given to the conclusions of the June 2018 European Council. Finally, the Council announced that the operation will continue to properly implement its mandate, increasing surveillance by air and by strengthening support for the Libyan coastguard and navy in law enforcement duties at sea through enhanced monitoring, including on land, and continuing training.
EU resources on migration and border management – the funds allocated to Italy
As part of the long-term EU budget 2014-2020 for home affairs, of around € 10.5 billion, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) amounts to € 3.1 billion, while the Fund internal security (ISF) stands at 3.8 billion, of which approximately 2.8 are employed in the Borders and Visa tool.
According to data provided by the Commission, from 2015 to May 2019, the EU supported Italy in the management of migration and borders through the allocation of € 515.9 million from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) , to which are added 434.9 million euros deriving from the Internal Security Fund (ISF).
The European Commission specifies that the total amount of these resources is divided into 724.4 million euros (of which 230.5 million actually disbursed) for national programs (long-term loans) and 226.4 million euros (of which paid 188.4) assigned in emergency assistance.
Long-term funding constitutes the majority of the European funds allocated to the national authorities of the Member States at the beginning of each long-term EU budget; these authorities manage resources through national programs agreed with the European Commission.
The resources assigned to Italy in this way, starting from 2015, amount to 394.2 million as regards the AMIF Fund, and 330.2 million euros as regards the ISF Fund.
Emergency assistance (short – term funding) can be granted to national authorities or international organizations and agencies at the request of a Member State. In this context, in the aforementioned period, approximately 1 million euros was allocated to international organizations, while 120, 7 and 104 million euros were allocated to the Italian authorities, deriving respectively from the AMIF and ISF Funds.
For the next long-term EU budget (MFF 2021-2027), still under consideration by the European legislative institutions, the European Commission proposes to almost triple the overall funding for migration and border management, bringing it to 34.9 billion euros, compared to 13 billion in the previous period.
In particular, the Commission proposes to allocate € 21.3 billion for border management in general, creating a new Integrated Border Management Fund – IBMF for a value of over 9.3 billion euro (the fund includes the Financial Support Instrument for Border and Visa Management and the Financial Support Instrument for Customs Control Equipment), and strengthening the EU’s border management agencies by allocating more than 12 billion euro to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and to EU LISA.
IBMF’s resources are divided into: € 4.8 billion earmarked for long-term financing to support states border and visa members 3.2 billion for targeted support in emergencies; 1.3 billion to improve equipment for border customs control. The proposal provides for a fixed quota of € 5 million per country and the remaining parts distributed between Member States, according to their respective workloads at the external borders and in the consular offices.
The European Parliament approved the two instruments mentioned under the Integrated Border Management Fund on 13 March and 16 April 2019 respectively. On the instrument relating to the financing of border and visa management, the EU Council reached a partial orientation on June 7, 2019.
The proposal for the renewed Asylum and Migration Fund – AMF stands at € 10.4 billion, aimed at supporting Member States’ efforts in three key sectors: asylum, legal migration and integration, fight against migration illegal and repatriation.
In particular, the Commission intends to allocate € 6.3 billion to long-term financing for the support of the Member States, establishing a fixed sum of € 5 million for each country, and allocating the rest on the basis of an assessment of the pressures. migration and taking into account proportions in the area of asylum, legal migration and repatriation. 4.2 billion euros are instead intended for targeted support, for specific projects such as resettlement or for funding for emergency situations. finally, the Fund foresees about one billion for the strengthening of EASO.
On 13 March 2019, the European Parliament adopted its first reading position on the MFA fund, substantially confirming its overall budget. On the Commission proposal, the Council of the EU reached a partial approach on 7 June 2019.
The external dimension of the EU migration policy focuses on some issues which, in principle, have in common the general objective of reducing the root causes of migration, with particular regard to irregular flows from the African continent.
This policy relates to the support to States of origin and transit to eliminate the main factors of economic, social and political instability, to the deepening of EU cooperation with third States regarding the control of their borders, the fight against traffic networks of migrants and trafficking in human beings, as well as to the return policies of migrants irregularly present in the EU. EU support also relates to the strengthening of international protection systems outside the territory of the Union, inter alia, with reference to the situation of refugees inside or from outside areas
In this context, the European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, set up in November 2015 on the occasion of the Valletta EU – Africa Summit, which reached (as at 26 August 2019) is considered ) a volume of resources of 4.5 billion euros, of which 4 billion from the European Development Fund and other EU financial instruments, while the Member States and other donor countries (Switzerland and Norway) contribute 514 million ( 506 have been paid so far). The main contributing Member States to the Fund are Germany and Italy with a commitment of € 182.5 million and € 123 million respectively.
As part of the fund, at 26 July 2019, 209 programs were approved for a value of approximately € 4.007 billion (of which approximately 650 for North African countries only).
It should be noted that the EU Foreign Affairs Council of 15 July 2019, when discussing the external aspects of migration, stressed the need to increase financial resources, in particular with regard to the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
The allocation of the Fund’s resources is divided into three macro-regions: Sahel and Lake Chad (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal), Corno d ‘ Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda), and North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt).
Thanks to the Fund, programs are aimed at: creation of economic development and employment; support of basic services for local populations (food and nutrition security, health, education); strengthening stability and governance, in particular by promoting conflict prevention and combating human rights violations, and the rule of law principle; prevention of irregular migration flows and contrasting migrant smuggling networks.
The approach followed with the Valletta agreement, and the Trust fund, is also at the basis of the new EU partnership framework, which has resulted in agreements (Migration Compact) with priority third countries (Niger, Mali, Nigeria , Senegal and Ethiopia), and at the start of the so-called external investment plan. The latter financial instrument, starting from 2017, stimulates investments in Africa and the EU neighborhood through grants, loans, guarantees, and risk-sharing tools. The EU contribution stands at around € 4.5 billion, which according to the Commission should lead to leverage capable of mobilizing up to € 44 billion of private investment for sustainable development. The European Commission has asked the Member States for a contribution of the same amount in order to achieve an investment volume of almost ninety billion euros.