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News | Wednesday, 10 March 2010 Issue. 154

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Frontex: more Med patrols despite drop in crossings

Malta will be one of several priority locations in the 2010 work programme for Frontex, the EU’s external borders agency, which was recently presented to the European council of justice ministers.
Operational cooperation will focus on the southern maritime areas where large number of irregular migrants are usually detected near the Canary Islands, the Spanish south-eastern Mediterranean coast, Lampedusa, Malta, Sardinia, and the Greek islands close to the Turkish coasts (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Patmos, Leros and Kos).
“Even though decreased detections of illegal border crossing have been reported during the first semester 2009 on the West African and Central Mediterranean routes, operational cooperation should continue to include these areas, on the one hand because the decrease might only be temporary, and on the other because Frontex coordinated Joint Operations in these areas as one factor have contributed to the decrease,” Frontex said.
Europe’s home affairs and justice ministers also adopted conclusions on 29 measures for reinforcing the protection of the external borders and combating illegal immigration.
The ministers called for “systematic exchange of relevant information” between its law enforcement agencies, namely Europol, Eurojust and Frontex, and called on Member States to improve the sharing of information concerning the new modus operandi of trafficking networks and falsification of documents.
The ministers also looked forward to improving dialogue on migration with Libya, and asked the European Commission to explore a cooperation agenda between the EU and Libya on maritime cooperation, border management, international protection, effective return and readmission of irregular migrants and issues of mobility of persons.
On Frontex, the ministers called on member states to ensure more resources are pooled in for joint operations.
Referring to the creation of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will have its headquarters in Malta, the ministers said they wanted to further develop methods that better identify those who are in need of international protection in mixed flows.

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