The Netherlands deploys naval vessels for border control in the Mediterranean

This summer, the Netherlands will deploy two Dutch minesweepers during the INDALO operation of Frontex, the EU external borders agency, in the Mediterranean. This was announced by Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin and Minister of Defence Van Middelkoop, also on behalf of their colleague of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, in a letter to the Lower House.

It concerns two minesweepers that will contribute to the earliest possible detection of vessels that may be attempting to transport illegal immigrants to Spain. In addition to the Netherlands, other Member States, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Luxemburg, Slovakia and Belgium are also participating in this Frontex operation. The deployment of the minesweepers implements a motion of the Lower House.

The naval vessels will be deployed in the open sea between Spain and Morocco and Algeria between 7 June and 1 July. The Dutch minesweepers detect and follow vessels that may have illegal immigrants aboard. They do not carry out interceptions, but rather report these vessels to the Spanish authorities. These can proceed with the actual interception of the vessel and, if necessary, take aboard immigrants that are attempting to reach Spain illegally, or escort the vessel to a Spanish port.

The Dutch naval vessels will be under the command of the Commander of the Armed Forces. The international obligations imposed on captains as regards the detection and rescue of drowning persons will be observed. Spain will be responsible for any procedures under aliens law if the Dutch naval vessels have to take persons, such as drowning persons, aboard.

The Netherlands regularly participates in joint operations of the EU external border agency Frontex, inter alia by means of the deployment of border control officials. This is the first time that the Netherlands is making a contribution in this form.