Thursday

9th Dec 2021

EU states should control new border force, MEPs say

  • The new EU border guard is set to be operational by the summer (Photo: Frontex)

Deployment of the EU's new border force should be controlled by member states, not by the European Commission, an MEP's report discussed in parliament on Monday (11 April) has concluded.

Artis Pabriks, rapporteur on the European Border and Coast Guard proposal, said in his report that the right to intervene should be decided by the Council, which represents member states, “to further emphasise the sovereignty”.

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

The European Commission had initially proposed last December that it should control interventions by the new border force.

EU leaders hope that the new border force will be operational by the summer, and will eventually replace the current Warsaw-based border agency, Frontex.

It would have the right to intervene in emergencies if a member state persistently failed to protect the bloc’s external boundaries, if national action is lacking and if there is a threat to the Schengen area as a whole.

In a controversial aspect of the proposal, the border force could also be deployed even if the member state concerned rejected intervention.

Pabriks, a Latvian centre-right MEP, sided with member states in his draft report.

“Given the sensitivity of the matter, which is clearly linked to the sovereignty of the EU member states, it should be the council and not the commission which takes such a decision,” his report said.

If the member state does not comply with the council’s decision, reintroducing border controls in neighbouring member states “might be necessary” to protect the Schengen area.

The draft report says: “The Council may as a last resort, to protect the common interests within the area without internal border control and taking into account the principles of proportionality and necessity, recommend that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or specific parts of their internal borders for a period of up to six months.”

That period may be extended no more than three times.

MEPs in the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee generally welcomed his ideas, but emphasised the need for clear areas of responsibility and accountability between the new EU border agency and the member state concerned when European border guards “intervene”.

Peter Niedermuller, the shadow rapporteur for the socialist group in the EU assembly, said: “Liability and accountability for the action of the agency together with member state are blurred in many areas, like the cases of return, fundamental rights, data protection, relation with third countries.”

“Further clarification is needed,” he added, saying the commission's proposal is not at all clear on who is responsible, for what, when and where.

Some MEPs also criticised the idea of a European “return” office within the new agency that would be tasked with sending back illegal migrants. They said the border agency’s role as guardian of the external borders should not be mixed up with asylum policy.

A vote is planned in the committee on 24 May. Negotiations among member states and the EU parliament will then begin.

New EU border force: 'right to intervene'

New EU border force, to be proposed Tuesday, would have “right to intervene” if member states fail to protect external boundaries, a draft text, seen by EUobserver, says.

Frontex resource limitations put agency in straitjacket

The EU border agency has the potential to police Europe's borders, save lives and reduce human trafficking, but lack of means and political will reduces it to a resource-poor coordinating agency, says a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

MEPs question EU border guard proposal

Leftist and Green MEPs criticise proposals that would allow EU border guards greater powers to intervene in member states, questioning legal responsibility for rights violations.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

News in Brief

  1. No US troops going to Ukraine, Biden said
  2. UK's Johnson apologises in Christmas party scandal
  3. Kaczyński harming LGBTI people's mental health
  4. Scholz sworn in as new German chancellor
  5. Corporate due diligence delay 'unacceptable,' NGOs say
  6. Triple shot of BioNTech, Pfizer 'effective' against Omicron
  7. 80% of products sold online 'breach chemicals laws'
  8. Saudi man released over Khashoggi killing

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.

Latest News

  1. 'Agriculture as sovereignty' under the French EU presidency
  2. EU leaders to raise alarm on eastern 'destabilisation'
  3. Commission plan allows police to shoot suspects in other EU states
  4. Caruana Galizia family urges EU not to fund 'corrupt' gas pipeline
  5. EU banks finance destructive Chinese dam builder in Congo
  6. EU plans new trade defence tool to deter economic coercion
  7. EU to announce new mandatory rules on child sexual content
  8. WHO warns mandatory vaccination 'absolute last resort'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us