Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus have called on their European Union partners to help combat a growing wave of illegal immigrants.
They cite UN data: ‘more than 67,000 people crossed the Mediterranean Sea to seek asylum in Europe in 2008 — half of them arrived in Italy and Malta’. At a meeting of EU interior ministers in Prague, the countries saying they are under most pressure regionally asked to reinforce the EU border agency Frontex and firm up agreements with illegal immigrants’ countries of origin, to make it more possible to expel them. Overcoming costly delays to the SIS II giant data base linking information gathered by police in 25 nations, the Schengen Information System II, was also discussed. The EU has approved the issuing of biometric passports by all its members, from this June – with some flexibility for the UK. Some states already have biometric passports.