BRUSSELS – The European Commission said on Friday it was following the rise in irregular migrant arrivals in Spain over the last year and was willing to send more border agents if needed.
Speaking during the daily press briefing, Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst said the EC was closely monitoring all migratory flows and the European Union’s external borders.
“As in all cases, the Commission and the EU agencies, of course, stand ready to provide additional support as needed,” she said.
According to Ernst, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, had 200 deployed officers that were aiding Spain, primarily assisting with surveillance, search and rescue and crime detection, particularly smuggling and trafficking.
The officers are supported by ships and airplanes.
When asked if she believed there was a new route opening in the western Mediterranean, she said the route had been used by irregular migrants for a very long time but acknowledged that in the past year they had noticed an increase in arrivals.
“The European Coast Guard and Border Agency has been active on this route for the past four years in support of the Spanish authorities,” she said.
The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration recently signaled that Spain could this year overtake Greece in the number of irregular migrant and refugee arrivals.
According to IOM data released Wednesday, some 8,383 migrants and refugees had arrived in Spain through the Mediterranean route so far this year, while only 2,476 had arrived throughout the first six months of 2016.
Data from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) shows that 12,440 migrants had arrived in Greece so far throughout 2017.
Meanwhile, Italy leads by an astronomical amount, having received at least 96,000 migrants and refugees this year.