Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Supra-national border guard system on EU radar

  • Frontex guards pose for media on the Greek-Turkish border (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission is looking into long-term plans to create an entirely new EU border guard service with an independent command and control centre.

While details are scant, a EU source said setting up such a supra-national border agency that goes beyond the remit of the current EU border agency Frontex would be twenty years in the making.

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“We are talking about 2030 or 2035 so this is really a long term development,” noted the contact.

A commission financed feasibility study completed over the summer has put forward a three-phase approach in creating the so-called European System of Border Guards.

Each successive phase is a step forward in centralising control and surveillance of the EU’s borders to an agency manned by EU personnel, which is independent from the respective national authorities.

Phase one calls for greater interaction between member states and the EU in terms of co-operation and decision-making on border control issues.

Phase two places emphasis on shifting decision-making to the EU level. An intermediary European border guard corps would be introduced at this stage.

The final phase is the most far-reaching.

Also known as “full integration at EU level”, it entails setting up an entirely new agency - the committee on Schengen border management (CSBM).

The new body would be composed of border guards under a EU-level command structure.

The study notes that all border guards, previously acting under the command and control of national authorities, would now form part of the European border guard corps.

The EU border agency Frontex, under this final model, would primarily be tasked to conduct intelligence gathering and manage resources like personnel and equipment.

“The agency [Frontex] would collect the relevant information for strategic analysis through surveillance tools and daily border control activities performed by the EBC [ European border corps],” notes the study.

It would be a complete departure from Frontex, which currently has to ask member states for border guards and equipment.

“The European border guard system is a completely different thing,” said a Frontex spokesperson.

The notion is not new and has been discussed on previous occasions.

Member states, in a June council meeting, had backed the idea of having an EU-wide border guard system to enhance border controls and surveillance.

The idea surfaced again earlier this week when EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke about creating a European System of Border Guards in a speech delivered at the European Security Forum 2014.

“Together with the relevant actors at the EU level, I will be exploring the creation of a European System of Border Guards,” he said on Monday (17 November).

The full implications of the study and the future of EU border control is temporarily on hold until an on-going review into Frontex has been finalised.

“The outcome of this evaluation, together with the results of the feasibility study on the creation of a EU System of border Guards, conducted on behalf of the Commission, will feed into the policy debate,” a commission official said in an email.

The evaluation is set for completion sometime mid-2015.

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