Irregular migration represents a small proportion of the total movement of persons across the borders, three quarters of which are EU nationals. Over 100 nationalities require a visa to enter the EU, accounting for more than 80% of the non-EU population, while about 1 billion nationals from 37 countries do not require a visa. As yet, there are no precise statistics available on passenger flows for 2010, but it is widely regarded to have recovered somewhat from the decline of 2009.
Regarding irregular migration, the sharp decreasing trend reported in 2009 stabilised in 2010; Member States and Schengen Associated Countries reported 104 049 detections of illegal border-crossing at the sea and land external borders, a total almost identical to 2009.
Irregular migration through western African, western Mediterranean and central Mediterranean routes continued to decrease, thus reducing the overall detection of irregular migration of West Africans who, in the past, used to be the most commonly detected migrants on those routes. By contrast, there was an abrupt increase in detections of illegal border-crossing at the land border between Turkey and Greece. Consequently, in 2010 the eastern Mediterranean route became the main channel of irregular migration into the EU, and Turkey – the main transit country for irregular migrants.
The sudden increase in detections of illegal border-crossings along a small section of the Greek-Turkish land border in October 2010 was due to facilitators exploiting variations in the vulnerability of the external border. This development triggered the first deployment of the Rapid Border Intervention Team (RABIT) in November 2010.
At EU level, refusals of entry decreased marginally in 2010; however, trends differed extensively between nationalities. Ukrainians continued to be the main nationality refused entry at EU Member States’ external borders in 2010, mostly at the Ukrainian border with Poland which is one of the busiest border sections along the EU’s external borders. Furthermore, Serbians became the second most frequently refused nationality at the external land borders, with more than an 80% increase, following the visa liberalisation process in the Western Balkans. At the external air borders, Brazilians continued to be the nationality most often refused despite the fact that these refusals declined by more than 20% compared to 2009.
At the end of 2010, the detection of false documents at entry points to the EU reached their highest level since data collection began in early 2009. Apart from this increase, there are reports of widespread abuse of authentic documents by unauthorised users known as impostors.
Looking ahead, regular passenger flows across the external borders will increase due to rising global mobility, possible visa-liberalisation procedures for the EU’s eastern European partners and new local border-traffic agreements along the eastern borders. These developments will increase the workload of border-control authorities in preventing the use of legal channels for overstaying. In addition, Europe will host two major sporting events - the Olympic Games in London and the UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine.
Consistent with the increasing flow of passengers, the growing number of registered traveller programmes (RTP) should further facilitate bona fide passenger flows and will put additional emphasis on risk analysis-driven border checks in order to ensure the smooth flow of legitimate passengers.
There might be changes in the external Schengen and EU borders in 2011 or 2012, with the possible entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area and Croatia’s possible accession to the EU.
The most likely high-pressure points for illegal border-crossings in 2012 will be along the Mediterranean coast and the land border with Turkey. Migrants with relatively easy access to Turkey or North Africa will continue to typify the flow.