In the third quarter of 2016, the indicator of illegal border-crossings at the EU’s external borders did not exceed the level to which it had dropped in March 2016, when the closure of the Western Balkan route and the EU-Turkey statement ended the unhindered migratory flow into the EU and Schengen area. On the one hand, the number of related detections decreased by 87% compared with one year before. On the other hand, the reported level of irregular migration was substantially higher than in any third quarter between 2008 and 2013.
At the EU’s external borders with Turkey, the migratory pressure generally remained at a level consistent with the second quarter of 2016, when an agreement between the EU and Turkey substantially reduced the number of illegal border-crossings on this route.
On the route through the Western Balkans, where most of the migrants re-entered the EU after arriving on the Eastern Aegean Islands, irregular migration declined to the lowest level since 2011. In the third quarter, the number of illegal border-crossings, primarily from Serbia to Croatia and Hungary, represented 12% of what was reported in the previous quarter, and only 0.6% of the migration level in Q3 2015.
As a result of the decline in irregular migration on the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes, the number of irregular migrants reported from the Central Mediterranean route in Q3 2016 was again higher than on any other route. As usual during this season, the number of boats departing from North African shores was rising as the maritime weather conditions improved. Similar to the situation in Q3 2015, around 60 000 migrants tried to reach Italy by boat. Compared with one year before, a higher number of migrants departed from Egypt; however, Libya remained the most common departure country of migrant boats.
In Q3 2016, the number of detections of illegal border-crossing reported by Spain on the Western Mediterranean route increased to the highest level since 2011. As many as 95% of all detections were made at the sea border, with Algerians representing the largest group.The FRAN indicator with the highest relative increase was related to refusals of entry issued at the external EU/Schengen borders, which increased by 126% compared with the previous quarter, to the highest number ever recorded since FRAN data collection began. This increase was mainly caused by more Russian nationals refused at Polish land borders.