UK Politics

MPs warn over Turkey migrant risk to EU

UK Border Agency officials
Image caption The EU's border would be extended to Iran, Iraq and Syria if Turkey was allowed to join

Turkey must improve its border controls before it can join the European Union, a committee of MPs has said.

The Home Affairs Committee said thousands of migrants were entering the EU illegally through Turkey into Greece - many of them aiming for Britain.

It was also concerned about human trafficking and drug smuggling.

The UK Border Agency said it was working with other countries to help them strengthen their capacity to deal with illegal migration.

The EU's border would be extended to Iran, Iraq and Syria if Turkey was allowed to join.

'Share intelligence'

The committee said estimates for the number of Turkish migrants likely to enter the EU as a whole ranged from 500,000 and 4.4 million by 2030.

It called on the Home Office to carry out an urgent impact assessment of the numbers likely to come to the UK.

Keith Vaz, the committee's Labour chairman, said MPs were worried that people-smuggling from Afghanistan and Iran would become even easier once Turkey joined the EU.

"It was clear from our visits to Turkey and Greece that, despite the willingness of the authorities to tackle the problem of illegal migration into the EU through this region, much more needs to be done," Mr Vaz said.

"In particular, we require a collective commitment from Greece, Turkey and the European and international law enforcement agencies to share intelligence and work together to bring down the criminal gangs who are responsible for bringing thousands of migrants into the EU each month."

Drugs are also a concern, the committee said. Its report said that up to 80% of the heroin currently trafficked to Europe from Afghanistan comes through Turkey.

"The UK government and its EU partners must therefore do everything they can to assist Turkey in tightening its border controls," Mr Vaz added.

Awareness raising

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "There has been a significant drop in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to evade border controls over the past year, so the message is getting through - if you're not legal you're not welcome.

"We are working with other governments to increase their capacity to deal with illegal migration and to raise awareness among potential illegal migrants about how dangerous and unsuccessful these attempts are."

David Cameron has personally expressed his enthusiasm for Turkish accession to the EU.

But UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the prime minister should think again.

"Whilst the report raises concerns about border controls and organised crime, it ultimately says that there are more pros to Turkey joining the EU than cons. This is not the case," he said.

"If Turkey joins the EU than that's an estimated 75 million people who will be eligible to roam around the union and also come to the UK.

"Our country is already buckling under the strain of its existing population."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites