The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has recently made the decision to suspend its operations in Spain, making it the only European Union country not to renew its operations with Frontex for this year. The decision comes after a failure to reach an agreement for 2024, as reported by SchengenVisaInfo.com.
According to El Pais, Frontex has suspended its operations against irregular migration in the Mediterranean, the Alboran Sea, and the Canary Islands since January 24 after Madrid failed to agree to the agency’s 2024 plan. Spain does not want to accept the agency’s conditions, especially those on migrant data protection. The local media reports that the two parties had agreed on January 25 to give the matter a week in order to reach an agreement.
As a result, nearly 350 police officers alongside sea and air vessels used for patrolling the Spanish coast as well as the European Union’s southern border will be withdrawn from Spain. However, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told journalists that it is simply a technical issue that will be solved in the coming hours and not an operating matter.
This decision comes as Spain attempts to manage the increased number of irregular migrants who attempt to reach the country. The number of migrants who attempted to enter Spain in an irregular way increased by more than 80 per cent last year, with a record number heading to the Canary Islands, according to provisional interior ministry figures.
Last year, 56,852 migrants entered Spain in an unlawful way, accounting for an increase of 82.1 per cent compared to 2022 statistics and the most significant increase since 2018. Of the total, 39,910 arrived in the Canary Islands by boat, crossing from Africa, thus accounting for an increase of 154.5 per cent over last year and also exceeding the record number registered in 2006.
The figures from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency revealed that irregular border crossing attempts registered at the EU’s external borders last year reached 2016 levels, with a total of 380,000 detections registered. Additionally, the number of irregular border crossings last year was up by 17 per cent compared to 2022 statistics, indicating an increasing trend over the past three years. These developments could have significant implications for Spain’s border control and migrant management.
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