Exclusive: How EU’s porous borders are fuelling UK’s boat migrants crisis

This report has been co-published with our affiliated organisation, Brexit Facts4EU.Org.  We are most grateful for their original research into the raw data which backs what follows.

EU’s soaring illegal immigration problem – up 83% last year
How many are headed for the French coast and on to the UK?

Our research of EU figures reveals how UK’s boat migrant problems could rocket

Exclusive: We have been able to gain access to the database of the EU’s border and coastguard agency (Frontex) to reveal the extent of the EU’s rapidly escalating crisis in managing its borders. The number of illegal migrant detections in 2021 was up 83% on 2020, and even up 61% on the pre-Covid year of 2019.

Our analysis of official EU border agency and EU Commission data shows why the UK needs to act immediately

These huge increases matter to the UK, because a significant proportion of illegal migrants entering the EU end up on the northern French coast seeking passage to the UK via people traffickers, using dinghies headed for the English coast.

These are only illegal migrant detections – actual entrants are much higher

The EU’s Frontex border agency only records illegal migrant detections. It does not record the actual number of immigrants who make it into the EU. We have therefore also looked at the EU Commission’s data for the migrants the EU knows of, as a result of asylum applications.

Both sets of figures are damning and should be very worrying for Priti Patel and her Home Office team.

This report focuses on Frontex’s figures for illegal migrant detections.


Illegal migrant detections by EU border agency Frontex, 2019-202

  • 2019 : 141,741
  • 2020 : 125,110
  • 2021 : 228,561

– Comparing 2021 to 2020, the numbers rose by 82.7%
– Comparing 2021 to 2019 (pre-Covid) the rise was 61.3%


Along some EU borders the increase has been more than 1000%

The overall average increase from 2019 to 2021 of 61.3% masks some truly extraordinary increases along some of the EU’s borders. Below we show some of these.

  • Eastern Land Borders : +1214%
  • Western African route : +924%
  • Central Mediterranean : +423%
  • Western Balkans : +385%


We asked Migration Watch UK for their comments


“This is an excellent piece of research which highlights what I have always felt is a major part of the root causes of illegal Channel crossings.

“The EU’s porous external borders, the Schengen arrangements and reluctance to return those without authority to be in the EU attracts increasing numbers from Africa, the Balkans and elsewhere. Many of those who end up crossing to the UK have already been denied asylum in the EU.

“This problem will only grow unless the EU takes decisive action at its external borders and removes many more of those who shouldn’t be in the EU. The Commission and Member States could start by ditching the woefully out-of-date Schengen arrangements, taking tougher action at the external borders and working with the UK to deal with what is an issue of major concern to the whole of Europe.”

– Alp Mehmet CVO, Chairman, Migration Watch UK, Mon 02 May 2022

More than 9 out of 10 illegal entries were male

To quote Frontex: “Just as in 2020, women continued to make up fewer than one in ten arrivals in 2021.” As regards other groups of vulnerable people, Frontex says “the reported share of minors was largely unchanged, as was that of unaccompanied minors” – but Frontex does not provide the data.

It is important to note that once detected, the vast majority of these illegal migrants are not returned.

In 2021, Frontex says Syrians remained the most frequently claimed nationality of the people detected when crossing the border without permission, followed by Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians and Afghans.

Frontex’s last press release on this entire matter was in January and is out of date. Facts4EU.Org was able to access the main database, which was last updated on 05 April. Our figures are therefore far more accurate than Frontex’s last press release.

Frontex – a foreign, uniformed corps on the sovereign soil of nation states


For the first time in its history, the European Union has its own uniformed service – the EU Border and Coast Guard standing corps.

In total, by 2027 the EU Border and Coast Guard will comprise 10,000 people, among them 3,000 Frontex staff. The other 7,000 officers will be seconded from EU Member States in a typical sleight of hand by the EU Commission to keep them off the EU budget.

In effect all EU member countries with an external border now have an EU-uniformed foreign corps on their sovereign territories, controlling their borders on a day-to-day basis.


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About CIBUK: The Campaign for an Independent Britain (CIBUK) is a non-party political campaigning organisation of people from all walks of life. It is the UK’s longest-running membership organisation for freedom, democracy and independence.

Founded in 1969, for over 50 years the CIBUK has made a significant contribution in campaigning on issues important to the majority of our population and in securing our exit from the European Union. Now it’s time for the next chapter.