Monday

28th May 2018

Hard and virtual borders await migrants to EU

  • Fences of all kinds are becoming more common (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Both EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and EU council chief Donald Tusk on Wednesday (14 September) issued broad political statements about clamping down on border security.

"Bratislava will have to be a turning point terms of protecting the Union's external borders," said Tusk in a letter ahead of meeting with the 27 EU heads of state in the Slovak capital on Friday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Juncker in a speech delivered at the EU parliament in Strasbourg had also announced 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles to be deployed at the Bulgarian border.

"We will defend our borders, as well, with strict controls, adopted by the end of the year, on everyone crossing them," he told euro-deputies.

His pledge coincided with a tour of a high wire fence along the Bulgaria Turkey border by Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban and his Bulgarian counterpart, Boyko Borissov.

"The future of Europe is decided not in Brussels, but where we stand," said Orban, reported Bulgarian media outlet novinite.com.

Last year's large inflow of people seeking international migration unnerved policy and lawmakers and triggered a raft of new legislation that aims to prevent others from making the same journey.

The migratory flows into the EU had, in part, exposed wide differences in responses by member states, posing larger questions on the role of the European Union in terms of security and foreign policy.

Orban, for his part, has been among the most vocal critic of migration and announced plans in late August to erect a second fence along Hungary's border with Serbia.

Meanwhile, the Juncker and Tusk statements followed the adoption of a new European Border and Coast Guard agency that is set to launch stress tests on five EU states in the coming weeks.

The tests will expose, if any, faults and weaknesses in their capacity to handle a sudden inflow of people demanding asylum.

A pool of some 1,500 border guards will also be at the agency's disposal before the end of the year to be deployed at a moments notice, if necessary.

Agency liaison officers are also set to be dispatched to each EU state to help coordinate with national authorities.

The plan also includes stepping up returns by helping authorities to swiftly secure travel documents to origin countries.

Virtual frontiers

The border reinforcement also comes with separate plans to verify every person who enters and leaves the EU.

Last December, the EU commission proposed to grant police access to databases on all persons, including EU citizens and their families, in an effort "to screen for threats to public order and internal security".

In November, it plans to roll out a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

Based on a similar system in the United States, ETIAS will screen people travelling to the EU before they even arrive.

The system checks future travellers, who don't need a visa, against border management and police databases. It may also link up to controversial passenger name records (PNR) systems that collect and retain large amounts of data on people flying with commercial airlines.

A new so-called Entry/Exit system is also set to be adopted before the end of the year but won't be fully operational until years later.

The system, which collects biometric data like face scans and fingerprints, applies to all non-EU nationals in an effort to crackdown on those who overstay their visas.

Both national law enforcement and the EU's police agency, Europol, will have access. But discussions are also under to possibly grant access to intelligence agencies.

An expert group, which provides advice on policy areas where the EU commission lacks expertise, discussed the intelligence access idea when they met in June.

Juncker: EU 'not at risk' of disintegration

The EU Commission chief warned Europe is more divided than ever before, but that Brexit does not mean it is falling apart. He also promised free wifi, an EU army of sorts, and more investments.

New EU border agency to 'stress test' member states

Frontex, the EU border agency, is set to morph in a much more powerful European border and coast guard agency. EU states are set to come under its scrutiny before the end of the year.

EU agrees new border guard agency

A new EU border and coast agency should become operational by the end of summer or start of autumn. It will need a country's consen to deploy guards.

IT security system threatens EU rights

EU commission wants to link up all information systems on security, border, and migration, drawing a rebuke from own rights agency.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations