Thursday

28th Jan 2021

MEPs approve EU border surveillance system

  • The UN says over 30,000 migrants attempted to enter Italy by sea in 2013 (Photo: Paul Keller)

MEPs on Thursday (10 October) gave the green light to a new European Border Surveillance system, Eurosur, due to go live early in December.

The system is meant to co-ordinate border surveillance among member states through so-called national co-ordination centres.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Each contact point would feed near-live data streams directly to the EU border agency, Frontex.

Frontex in turn would then issue alerts when necessary.

The European Commission says the system is needed to better inform national border control authorities of attempts by people to cross the Mediterranean.

Thousands are estimated to have died in recent years as they seek to come to Europe. Last year alone, over 1,500 are known to have perished or gone missing, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Last week, around 300 died a kilometre off the Italian island of Lampedusa when their boat caught fire and sunk.

Critics say the real purpose behind EU border surveillance plans is to stop the flow of irregular migrants and asylum seekers from ever reaching the coastlines in the first place. And that saving lives is secondary.

The current Eurosur text puts emphasis on preventing irregular migration but adds that it also should "contribute" to the protection and saving of lives at sea.

The Greens, who campaigned for a stronger emphasis on saving lives, say this is not enough.

“The clear purpose of Eurosur is fighting irregular migration,” German Green Ska Keller told this website on Wednesday (9 October).

She pointed out that the regulation says member states can obtain additional "capacities" to fight irregular migration but not to save lives.

“Co-operation only happens for fighting irregular migration, not for saving lives at sea,” she said.

The policy provides no requirement for member states to take proactive steps to improve the rescue of shipwrecked refugees.

She noted that the Mediterranean already ranks amongst the world’s most watched seas.

Keller says the EU needs to allow people to enter legally with a humanitarian visa in order to stop the trafficking and deaths.

“It’s astonishing that Europe still doesn’t have any legal ways for normal immigration, you only have the blue card for the highly qualified,” she noted.

The parliament’s lead negotiation on Eurosur, Dutch liberal Jan Mulder, called the Green’s amendments "superfluous."

“Nobody is against it [saving lives]. It is in several places in the text,” he told reporters in Strasbourg.

A clause added in the text will also allow non-Schengen members UK and Ireland to participate.

He noted that it would still be up to member states to carry out the rescue operations.

Other EU agencies like the European Maritime Safety Agency would also feed Frontex data on any suspicious activities, he said.

Such agencies, Frontex told EUobserver, already provide them with data feeds as a sort of moral obligation. A border control plane that spots a boat dumping oil into the sea, for instance, is not mandated to alert it but will.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland will start using Eurosur on 2 December 2013.

Other member states will follow suit on 1 December 2014.

MEPs: Portugal 'risks undermining' trust in EU prosecutor

Portuguese justice minister Francisca Van Dunem, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, argued that the Lisbon government was only following the advice of the country's magistrates when pushing for its candidate.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

News in Brief

  1. Putin holds out olive branch to Europe
  2. US snatched Russian anti-air system from Libya warlord
  3. UK to extradite alleged trafficker to EU despite Brexit
  4. EU puts trust in Boeing 737s after post-crash ban
  5. EU animal-export trade under harsh spotlight
  6. City of London wants to set rules for EU
  7. MEPs want 2030 targets to reduce consumption footprint
  8. Coronavirus cases worldwide pass 100m

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Poland imposes anti-abortion law amid EU concern
  2. The EU's vaccine strategy - the key points
  3. EU-AstraZeneca row flares up after vaccines shortfall
  4. First Covid, now McKinsey - how austerity hit EU healthcare
  5. Frontex suspends operations in Hungary
  6. Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office
  7. MEPs: Portugal 'risks undermining' trust in EU prosecutor
  8. EU to control vaccine exports in row over delays

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us