EU nations demand tougher borders to prevent ‘migration crisis’

Eight EU nations called on Brussels to significantly toughen the bloc's borders to "prevent another large-scale migration crisis," according to a letter seen by AFP ahead of a key summit.

EU nations demand tougher borders to prevent 'migration crisis'
A policeman stands guard in the new closed migrant camp in the Greek island of Kos on November 27, 2021. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)

The overall tone on migration has hardened in Europe since 2015-2016, when it took in over a million asylum-seekers, most of them Syrians fleeing the war in their country.

Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia sent the letter dated Monday to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.

They said it was “high time” for a “comprehensive European… approach for all relevant migratory routes” to tackle irregular migration.

The letter called for “additional financial support” within the existing budget to enhance “relevant operational and technical measures for effective border control”.

It also urged “significantly increasing swift returns of third country nationals” and concluding new partnerships and safe third country arrangements.   

Some member states are facing “levels of arrivals and applications equivalent to, or higher than, those seen during the migration crisis in 2015 and 2016,” the letter added.

At the end of January, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said she was confident that asylum reform — under discussion since September 2020 — would be adopted before the European elections in 2024.

The EU has earmarked six billion euros to protect its borders for the 2021-2027 period.

Several countries, including Austria, have called for EU funding to strengthen fences along the bloc’s external borders to reduce the flow of asylum-seekers.

But the commission has so far been reluctant, saying that “building walls and barbed wire” is not the right solution.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last month that member states could sign up to a pilot scheme over the first half of this year to speed up screening and asylum procedures for eligible migrants — and “immediate return” for those not deemed to qualify.

Von der Leyen said she wanted the EU to draw up a list of “safe countries of origin”, and for the bloc to strengthen border monitoring on the Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes migrants use to get to Europe.

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Sweden raises work permit salary threshold by over a thousand kronor

Statistics Sweden has released fresh median salary figures, effectively pushing up the work permit salary threshold for all new applicants.

Sweden raises work permit salary threshold by over a thousand kronor

On November 1st last year the minimum salary that applicants need to earn in order to be eligible for a Swedish work permit was raised to 80 percent of Sweden’s median salary. At the time the median salary was 34,200 kronor a month, giving a salary threshold of 27,360 kronor.

But in an update on June 18th, the median salary was pushed up to 35,600 kronor. 

This means work permit applicants (including both first-time applications and extensions) applying on this date or later will need to earn a total of 28,480 kronor a month in order to qualify for a work permit.

The median salary is announced in Statistics Sweden’s yearly updates, so it changes every year.

Salaries also need to be in line with industry standards or collective bargaining agreements to qualify for a work permit.

It’s the most recently published median salary at the time of your application (not the time of a decision) that will determine how much you need to earn in order to be eligible for a work permit, so the new figure will not affect work permit applications which are already in process, but it will affect any new applications or renewals submitted on or after June 18th, 2024.

Are there any plans to raise the salary threshold further?

Yes. The government plans to raise the work permit threshold for new permits to 100 percent of the median salary at the time of application, with exemptions for some categories of workers. 

This is currently going through the consultation stage (remiss) of the legislative process, which means it is not yet a firm proposal. If it does go ahead, the proposed starting date is June 1st, 2025.

There would be a one-year grace period for work permit renewals: the current rule (80 percent of the median salary) would continue to apply for any applications for extensions submitted to the Migration Agency by June 1st 2026 at the latest.

Do you have any questions for The Local about Sweden’s work permit salary threshold? Please comment below and we’ll try to help.