Migrants wait aboard a wooden boat during a rescue operation in partnership with Doctors Without Borders off the coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean sea on May 3. Photo: MOAS/Jason Florio/Scanpix
A Danish military aircraft will carry out surveillance over the Mediterranean as part of its promise to step up contributions to the Triton maritime frontier mission.
“I am pleased that Denmark can contribute to the EU’s broad spectrum efforts in relation to the refugee influx in the Mediterranean. Watching over the EU’s southern borders in the Mediterranean is a very important assignment that the Danish Challenger plane will now contribute to,” Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen said in a press release after meeting with his counterparts in Brussels.
PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt foreshadowed Denmark’s contribution to the Triton mission last month when she met with EU leaders to discuss the migrant crisis.
“I expect that today [the EU] will increase contributions to the Triton operation so we can save more lives, and Denmark will also contribute to that,” Thorning-Schmidt said on April 23.
Denmark’s opt-out on Justice and Home Affairs keeps it from being a part of the EU’s proposed refugee redistribution plan and its defence opt-out precludes participation in the EU’s plan to undertake a military operation aimed at human smugglers operating in the Mediterranean.
The Defence Ministry stated that the defence opt-out does not affect Denmark’s ability to contribute to Frontex, the EU agency that secures the union’s external borders and includes missions such as Triton.
The EU-run Triton operation has been used to partially replace an Italian navy search-and-rescue operation known as Mare Nostrum which was suspended at the end of last year.
Denmark has also vowed to contribute 22 people to Frontex operations.
More than 1,800 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean since the start of the year.