Tuesday

10th Dec 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. Orban wants bill to tighten grip over theatres
  2. Dutch reduce terror threat level for first time since 2013
  3. Russia banned from Olympics over doping scandal
  4. EU agrees future human rights sanctions
  5. Greens demand Zahradil conflict of interest probe
  6. EU commission to 'correct mistake' on enlargement
  7. Luxembourg pushes EU to recognise Palestine
  8. Minister: 'All Brussels kids should be trilingual at 18'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us