Responding to state-sponsored instrumentalisation of migrants at the EU external border

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Series Details JOIN (2021) 32
Publication Date 23/11/2021
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Joint Communication published by the European Commission and the High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, setting out an overview of existing and future actions aimed at addressing the instrumentalisation of migrants at the external borders of the European Union (EU).

Further information:

EU Member States witnessed the increasing threat of state-sponsored instrumentalisation of people for political ends. It became particularly visible as the regime led by Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus attempted such a crisis as part of a wider concerted effort to destabilise the European Union. Hybrid threats like this are a complex challenge facing the EU and its countries.

The EU - and particularly Latvia, Lithuania and Poland - experienced an unprecedented increase in irregular border crossings from Belarus. This was seen as a result of the initiative led by the Lukashenko regime to lure people to the border, with the cooperation with migrant smugglers and criminal networks. The instrumentalisation of vulnerable migrants and refugees was strongly condemned by the European Union. The issue was been identified and discussed by the European Council in June and October 2021 and by the European Commission during the State of the European Union (SOTEU) address. The lack of democratic legitimacy of Lukashenko's regime was also reaffirmed. Support was offered to the most affected Member States alongside diplomatic efforts with third countries to dismantle the initiative.

This Communication provides an overview of the actions already taken in response to the situation and of any forthcoming measures. It also looks ahead to how the existing framework can be adapted to provide a more permanent toolbox to address future attempts to destabilise the EU through the state-sponsored instrumentalisation of irregular migrants.

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Related Links
European Commission: Press Release, 23/11/2021: EU proposes blacklisting of transport operators involved in facilitating the smuggling or trafficking of people
European Commission: Questions and answers on proposals to blacklist transport operators involved in facilitating the smuggling or trafficking of people (23 November 2021)

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