Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

EU agrees rapid reaction anti-immigration units

  • Thousands are dying each year trying to get into Europe from Africa (Photo: AFM)

In an effort to cut the numbers of illegal migrants arriving to Europe by sea, EU interior ministers have given the green light to setting up a rapidly deployable force of border guards which would assist countries facing an immigration emergency.

"It is the best ever example of European solidarity," EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini said after the deal on the so-called rapid border intervention teams was struck on Friday (20 April).

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 rapid border intervention teams – operational under the EU's external borders agency, Frontex - are foreseen as a pool of some 450 national experts, made available at short notice of up to five working days to any member state whose borders are under "urgent and exceptional" strain by illegal migration.

Under the deal, all 27 capitals will be required to contribute to the EU teams.

The prime goal is to combat illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastal area, after last year saw an unprecedented amount of Africans taking the perilous trip, crammed together in small fishing boats, in search of a better life in Europe.

More than 31,000 illegal immigrants reached Spanish territory in 2006 - six times more than in 2005 – while Italy and Malta were also heavily targeted. Thousands are feared to have been lost at sea.

The idea of special EU teams already received the backing from the European Parliament's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs on 11 April. The parliament is expected to give its final blessing during this week's plenary session in Strasbourg.

In addition, Frontex is to set in motion a permanent coast patrols network for the EU's southern sea borders amid fears that favourable weather could make 2007 another record year in terms of sea-borne migration.

The patrols will begin work in late May to define and monitor flashpoint areas for illegal attempts to enter Europe.

"We have succeeded in making another important step to protect the common external sea frontiers in the south," German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble said in response to the announcement, adding "this mechanism is a vital measure to counter illegal migration at the external sea borders jointly and in a coordinated manner."

According to EU commissioner Frattini, Frontex - created in 2005 to co-ordinate EU border security – now has at its disposal over 20 air planes, almost 30 helicopters and far more than 100 vessels as well as a variety of other equipment.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

Orban rejects Weber's plea to stop anti-EU posters

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has pledged to put up new anti-migrant posters - despite hopes in his centre-right EU family that he might "apologise and put an end" to the campaign.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us