In May 2015, the European Commission introduced the Hotspot Approach. This effort, also known as the EU Hotspot System, is part of an emergency response plan aimed at assisting EU member countries suffering extreme migration demand at the EU’s external frontiers.
The European Commission (EC) originally announced the European Agenda on Migration in April 2015, with the goal of tackling urgent migratory concerns and equipping member states with the tools they need to deal with irregular migration. The Hotspot System is one of the measures aimed at ensuring responsible and equitable migration management in the medium and long term.
The situation at the EU’s external border varies per member country, with some, such as Italy and Greece, confronting considerably more migratory abundance than the rest of Europe – and so requiring different responses.
WHAT IS THE EU’S HOTSPOT APPROACH OR HOTSPOT SYSTEM?
To understanding the EU’s Hotspot System, one must first understand what a hotspot is.
Under normal conditions, member states can control their external EU borders effectively. Nonetheless, some nations confront far greater issues that need further assistance from EU authorities. Hotspots are areas along these countries’ borders that have much higher migration pressure.
The EU Regional Task Force (EURTF) implements border control reinforcement in European hotspots, and the Hotspot Approach is the system used by these agencies to address migratory difficulties.
Europol and Eurojust, which aid investigations aimed at dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks, are two other agencies that assist EU member states with specific border control tasks in hotspots.
HOW DOES THE HOTSPOT SYSTEM WORK?
Member states are required by EU legislation to take the following procedures with regard to arriving migrants:
The Hotspot Approach attempts to offer the operational assistance required for these activities to be handled as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Hotspot System focuses on asylum seeker debriefing and return operations.
The following European agencies have been dispatched to hotspots to assist each member state’s authorities with the appropriate tasks:
- European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
- European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)
People claiming asylum are immediately routed through the Hotspot System into appropriate asylum procedures.
Following that, support teams from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) assist with the processing of asylum applications. This is accomplished by providing information on procedures and relocation, as well as matching asylum seekers with the appropriate EU member country for relocation.
Furthermore, the Hotspot System adds to the EC’s temporary relocation schemes.
Migrants who do not require protection are led in a different direction. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) is in charge of managing these illegal migrants’ repatriation efforts.
FRONTEX also assists EU member countries with registration and identification procedures by sending Joint Screening Teams.
When an irregular migrant is denied asylum or declared to have no right to remain in the European Union, Frontex assists national authorities in organising the person’s repatriation.
Currently, the eu-LISA agency is in charge of the development of ETIAS as well as the operational administration of the Eurodac system. The eu-LISA also offers ICT skills for fingerprinting asylum applicants.
EU MEMBER STATES USING THE HOTSPOT APPROACH
Greece and Italy have already used the Hotspot Approach. Other EU member states may, however, request help through the mechanism if it is considered essential. Following a joint evaluation by Frontex and EASO, more support may be granted.
The Hotspot System is also in charge of assisting with the execution of emergency relocation methods approved by the European Union Council. Member countries arranged for the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU countries.
The purpose of these relocation systems is to strengthen European solidarity by distributing responsibility for asylum-seekers across all member countries, so relieving some of the strain on hotspots.
While the majority of European Union member states have met their relocation obligations, others have not. As a result, infringement proceedings were initiated against the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
Migration is one of the European Union’s most pressing issues. Hotspot management is a critical component of the EU’s assistance to Greece and Italy as they deal with the humanitarian and border control crises.
Nonetheless, the conditions in which vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers are received at European Union borders continue to be a source of concern in terms of:
- Conditions of camp facilities
- Living conditions
As a result, the European Parliament has reaffirmed its call for member states to take steps to guarantee that the basic rights of asylum seekers and migrants are not abused.
HOTSPOT REGIONS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
When unprecedented numbers of refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants came to the EU’s external frontiers, hotspot locations were initially discovered. Currently, only two EU member countries have these first receiving facilities: Greece and Italy.
HOTSPOTS IN ITALY
Italian authorities have currently established five hotspots, which can be found in the following locations:
HOTSPOTS IN GREECE
The Greek government has additionally established five hotspots on the following islands:
ETIAS’ ROLE IN FACING DISPROPORTIONATE MIGRATORY PRESSURES
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System was authorised for the first time in 2016 and has been under development since then. ETIAS, which is expected to debut in November 2023, intends to address and reduce migration anomalies in the Schengen Area.
The European Union will prohibit those who may pose a risk from entering Europe lawfully by forcing visa-exempt travellers to register online for an ETIAS before to departure.
ETIAS will become a requirement for travellers with passports from qualified nations. A simple online form with the visitor’s personal, passport, contact, and travel information will be used to get the European travel authorization.
The IT system will next cross-check the applicants’ data against different security databases to verify that the traveller does not endanger the well-being and safety of EU member countries.
The majority of applicants’ travel documents will be granted within the first 24 hours. However, if their data generates a hit in the system, discovering that they have previously broken Europe’s migration regulations may result in their ETIAS being refused.