EU Reports Fewer Border Crossings, Changes in Migration Routes

EU Reports Fewer Border Crossings, Changes in Migration Routes

Preliminary data from Frontex shows a 23% decrease in illegal border crossings into the European Union from January to May 2024 compared to the same period last year.

The total number of crossings detected was nearly 80,000.

Mediterranean, Balkan routes see fewer migrants

According to Frontex data, the Central Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes had the largest decreases in illegal border crossings, with 58% and 71% fewer detections, respectively.

In May, the Central Mediterranean route had nearly 5,100 arrivals, which is a 37% decrease from the previous year.

On the other hand, the Western African route saw a 303% increase in illegal migrants reaching the Canary Islands, with nearly 18,000 detections in the first five months of 2024. 

This is the highest number for this period since Frontex began collecting data in 2011.

Eastern Mediterranean route most active

The Eastern Mediterranean route became the most active migratory path, with detections more than doubling to over 21,200 from January to May.

The top three nationalities on all routes this year were from Syria, Mali, and Afghanistan.

Irregular border crossings at the Eastern Land Borders nearly doubled to 4,450 compared to the same period last year.

Although this is still the least active route, recent trends show increased activity, especially at the border with Belarus.

On the Channel route, detections increased by 38% to 21,820 in the first five months of 2024.

Frontex guards EU borders, risks remain

Frontex continues to protect European Union (EU) borders with 2,800 officers and staff working in different operations.

However, sea crossings are still dangerous for illegal migrants, with 923 people reported missing in the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Migration patterns impact travel

The changing patterns of illegal migration might affect future travel to the EU, especially with the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in mid-2025.

The ETIAS will check travelers from countries that do not need Schengen visas before they enter the Schengen Area to improve security.

While ETIAS mainly focuses on short-term visitors, the changing migration situation could also impact long-term travelers, like families, investors, digital nomads, and students.

As EU countries adjust their immigration policies, potential immigrants should stay informed about any possible effects on their plans.

Irregular migration routes shift in 2024

The first five months of 2024 have shown significant changes in illegal migration routes into the EU.

While overall numbers have gone down, some routes, like the Western African and Eastern Mediterranean, have seen a lot more activity.

As Frontex continues to protect EU borders, the safety of illegal migrants is still a major concern, especially on the dangerous Central Mediterranean route.

These changing migration patterns show the need for ongoing monitoring and flexibility in handling the challenges of illegal migration.