Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

European Commission wants 10,000 border guards

  • Frontex had 300 border guards in 2015. Under EU Commission plans, that could increase to 10,000 in less than ten years (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Some six years after Greece erected a 10km barb wired border fence along a stretch of the Evros river it shares with Turkey, the European Commission has announced plans to create a standing corps of 10,000 border guards.

On Wednesday (2 May), the EU executive proposed the idea as part of its aim to overhaul the EU budget for the years 2021-27.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The Evros River divides Greece and Turkey (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

The proposal reflects political priorities that were absent in 2012 when thousands of people had been crossing into Greece, some drowning in the Evros river, while others were lost in the tall reeds and marsh that span parts of the nature reserve and bird sanctuary.

Frontex, the EU border agency in Warsaw, had dispatched its very first rapid border deployment in an effort to stem the flows. Over time, fewer people opted for the land route, instead turning their sights onto the overcrowded Greek islands.

Earlier this year, in February, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri then announced the crossings from Turkey to Greece had dropped by 80 percent when compared to 2017.

"This eastern Mediterranean border is under control but of course there is still pressure," he had said.

Such discussions and fears are part of a broader trend throughout much of the EU when it comes to migration, border management, and security.

The Warsaw-based agency, also known as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has since its first rapid deployment in the Evros region seen its budget balloon. It also now has a border force of some 1,500 guards on loan from EU states at its disposal, up from around 300 in 2015.

European border guard force

But its evolution is set to go even further. The European Commission now wants the standing corps of 10,000 border guards up and running by 2027.

Details are sparse and won't be revealed until mid next month. But clues in the terminology 'standing corps' would suggest that the plan is to create European border guard force within Frontex.

Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for budget, told MEPs in Brussels that the proposal for 10,000 people is "a very clear signal of the power of the EU to act."

"Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus, Poland, a number of countries are being challenged, even over burdened by migration in these countries but it is an issue for the whole of the EU," he said.

Manfred Weber, a German who leads the centre-right EPP political group in the parliament, made similar comments.

Those comments come on the heels of a massive European Union budget overhaul, proposed by Oettinger on Wednesday, which aims to pour large amounts of the EU purse into border management and migration.

It means boosting the overall EU budget on external borders, migration and refugee flows from the current €13 billion to over €34 billion for the period 2021 to 2027.

Frontex is set to receive, should the plan go through, the biggest spending increase when compared to all the other big policies under the same budget line.

It currently gets around €300 million per year. Around half of that goes into operational costs. The Oettinger plan would see its budget increase substantially.

"The question is are we going to be doing things the old way or we are already moving into doing things in the new way," said Frontex spokeswoman Ewa Moncure.

She told this website on Wednesday that the plan to create a standing corps of 10,000 guards is reflection of political priorities.

"The money is being put where everybody says the important things are but in terms of what it means on the ground next week, I think it is a bit too early," she said.

She noted that Frontex is also now testing new ways to keep an EU state naval boat on lease for a much longer period of time and with crews made up of different nationalities.

Current rules restrict Frontex from deploying the boats outside the specific agreements and operations. They want that changed so they can use the boat for whatever operation and whereever they deem necessary at a moment's notice.

"There are a lot of things happening and it is only 2018," she said.

Investigation

Fortress Europe: a Greek wall close up

A 12.5km fence rolled with barbwire along the Greek Turkish border is part of a larger initiative to secure Europe from migrants seeking a better life.

Investigation

Land border sealed, Greek police chief says

A chief of police in north-eastern Greece says irregular migrants no longer cross into the country from Turkey. Land mines from World War II are among the deterrents.

Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund

The European Commission wants to triple the amount of money for migration in the next EU budget. Earlier this week, EU agencies, NGOs, and the mayor of Athens gave their views at a European parliament public hearing.

News in Brief

  1. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  2. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'
  3. EU values not negotiable, German FM tells Poland
  4. Audit warns 840 French bridges at risk of collapse
  5. Fashion king pours money into campaign for second Brexit vote
  6. Germany could aid Turkey, SPD leader hints
  7. UK government set to publish no-deal Brexit advice
  8. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  2. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  3. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  4. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  5. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  6. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  7. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  8. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us