The detections of illegal border-crossing along the external borders of EU Member States rose sharply from approximately 104 000 in 2009 and 2010 to nearly 141 000 in 2011 (+35%). The migrants crossing the borders illegally mainly came from Tunisia (20%), Afghanistan (16%) and Pakistan (11%).
This increase is mostly due to the fact that more than 64 000 detections were reported in the Central Mediterranean area, compared to only 5 000 in 2010. This surge was triggered by the change in the political regime in Tunisia and later sustained by the departure of many sub-Saharan migrants from Libya.
The second main area where illegal border-crossings were detected was the land border along the Eastern Mediterranean route, with over 55 000 detections, representing a 12% increase compared to last year. At this border section, the number of detections increased steadily throughout the year. In turn, migrants who illegally crossed the external border in Greece tended to transit through the Western Balkans, or travel directly from Greece to Italy.
While the land border between Greece and Albania used to be one of the main entry points of irregular migration, the detections of illegal border-crossing reported at this border section dropped considerably in 2011, from almost 35 300 to 5 270 (-85%). This decrease follows the introduction of a visa free regime for Albanians as of 21 December 2010. It coincides with an increase in refusals of entry to Albanians at the Greek land border with Albania, the Italian sea border, and at UK air borders. Thus, Albanians ranked first in terms of refusals of entry issued in the EU as a whole, surpassing the number of Ukrainians refused entry.
Irregular migration pressure on the Western Mediterranean route is now higher than it was in 2010, with slightly less than 8 500 detections in 2011, which represented only 6% of the EU total. On this route, most of the migrants came from Algeria and Morocco, and the number of migrants from sub-Saharan countries increased.
The use of forged documents to enter the EU illegally continued to be of particular concern. The high level expertise needed to falsify modern documents means that false documents are increasingly linked to organised crime. The number of detections of travel document forgery used to enter the EU was close to 9 500 in 2011, the highest level since systematic data collection began in Frontex in 2009. Apart from this increase, there are increased abuses of authentic documents by unauthorised users, known as imposters.
Within the EU, the total number of detections of illegal stay remained stable between 2010 and 2011 at approximately 350 000. As in the case of the reported number of detections of illegal border-crossing, illegally staying Afghans and Tunisians also ranked among the top nationalities.
Looking ahead, the border between Greece and Turkey is very likely to remain one of the areas with the highest number of detections of illegal border-crossing along the external border. More and more migrants are expected to take advantage of Turkish visa policies and the expansion of Turkish Airlines, carrying more passengers to more destinations, to transit through Turkish air borders and subsequently attempt to enter the EU illegally.
At the southern maritime borders large flows are most likely to develop on the Central Mediterranean route due to its proximity to Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, where political instability and the high unemployment rates are pushing people abroad and where there is evidence of facilitation networks also offering facilitation services to transiting migrants.
In response to increasingly sophisticated travel documents, there is an increase in the use of fraudulent supporting documents to obtain authentic travel documents. For example, facilitators are developing new techniques to circumvent biometric checks. This type of fraud not only enables illegal border-crossings but also affects internal security by allowing undocumented migrants to assume false identities. It is assumed that the number of detected document fraudsters increasingly under-represents the overall extent of the phenomenon, as the main focus at the national level is still on forged and counterfeit documents, rather than modi operandi involving false identities or impostors.
There is an increasing risk of political and humanitarian crises arising in third countries which may result in the displacement of large numbers of people in search of international protection towards the land and sea borders of the EU.The persistently large number of annual detections of illegal border-crossing along the external borders, oscillating between 100 000 and 150 000 since 2008, has created a market for criminal organisations facilitating the movement of illegal stayers within the EU. There is an increasing risk that these secondary movements are adding to the pull factors for illegal crossings of the EU external borders.
Various austerity measures introduced throughout Member States may result in increasing disparities between Member States in their capacity to perform border controls and hence enable facilitators to select those border types and sections that are perceived as weaker in detecting specific modi operandi. Budget cuts could also exacerbate the problem of corruption, thus increasing the vulnerability to illegal activities across the external borders.
The increase in the number of air and land passengers and rising global mobility will increase the number of border checks. Visa liberalisation and local border-traffic agreements are also being increasingly implemented or planned. As a result, the responsibilities and workloads of border-control authorities are increasing.As a corollary to strengthened surveillance and checks along the external borders, border-control authorities will be increasingly confronted with the detection of cross- border criminal activities, such as trafficking in human beings (THB), drug trafficking and the smuggling of excise goods, as well as cross-border crime committed on exit, such as the smuggling of stolen assets, particularly vehicles.