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Parliamentary questions
6 March 2018
E-006341/2017
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission

1. The July 2017 Commission Action Plan aiming at supporting Italy(1) and reducing migratory pressure along the Central Mediterranean route, includes a series of measures with the objective of making the Italian asylum and return systems more resilient and effective, allowing for swift identification of those in need of protection while taking actions to facilitate the return of irregular migrants.

In November 2017, a workshop on return procedures took place in Rome to look into further efficiency gains in making returns. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) is already supporting Italy on pre-return activities including by financing and organising return operations; this support will be further developed. In 2017 alone, Italy organised, with the support of EBCGA, 56 return operations to Tunisia, for a total of 1,667 Tunisian nationals.(2)

2. Europol has been carrying out secondary security checks(3) through experts seconded by Member States and deployed to the Italian hotspots since February 2017, with a view to detecting potential terrorist threats. So far, the controls have not shown any systematic links between migration flows and terrorists. An evaluation of the scheme recently concluded that the scheme is indispensable to carry out real time secondary security checks and thus enhance security at the EU borders.

3. The EU support to Italian authorities in preventing irregular arrivals from Tunisia, already provided through the Triton operation coordinated by the EBCGA, will continue after 1 February 2018 being provided by the same agency through the new joint operation called Themis.

Furthermore, under the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, a programme was approved for Tunisia, aiming at tackling the root causes of irregular migration, through the promotion of socioeconomic opportunities for Tunisian youth prone to migration.

(1)SEC(2017) 339
(2)Data provided by EBCGA
(3)In line with Council Conclusions issued on 20 November 2015, doc No 14382/15.

Last updated: 6 March 2018Legal notice