Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

EU to fortify external borders to stem migrant flow

  • Tusk: 'It is clear that the greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come' (Photo: The European Union)

The EU is forging ahead with plans to restore control of its external borders amid a refugee crisis unlike anything seen in recent history.

Among the ideas announced in the early morning of Thursday (24 September), is the establishment of EU-run quarantine centres for new asylum arrivals by the end of November and a proposal for an EU border and coast guard system by December.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Orban: 'If they don't like the fence, then we can let the migrants though to Austria and Germany'. (Photo: Freedom House)

The gathering in Brussels followed weeks of bickering between member states and tit-for-tat border and rail closures amid a massive influx of asylum seekers and refugees.

Thursday's plan is part of a larger ambition to deport people with no right to international protection after ministers earlier in the week had agreed to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

"We cannot continue like we did before. Without changing the current paradigm, the Schengen area will only exist in theory", EU council chief Donald Tusk told reporters.

The summit ended with a short statement and bullet-point document on actions, described by Judith Sunderland at Human Rights Watch as anti-refugee.

"Almost everything in the document is about reinforcing borders, stopping people from reaching the borders, and sending people back if they do", she said in a statement.

The document said the EU would reinforce cooperation with Turkey to stem migratory flows and that more efforts will be made to assist the Western Balkan countries.

But it also proposed providing an additional €1 billion to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the cash-strapped World Food Programme.

Tusk warned that millions of Syrians are still likely to make the journey to the EU in search of refuge.

"It is clear that greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come", he said.

The quarantine centres – also known as hotspots – will separate legitimate asylum seekers from others not entitled to international protection. People will be finger printed and registered. Rejected applicants will be returned back to their home countries.

The centres are being set up in Greece and Italy with support from the EU border agency Frontex, the European asylum support office (EASO), and the EU police agency, Europol.

But the zones have been hit with administrative and logistical delays. Frontex still needs to deploy staff to help with fingerprinting in Italy. EASO experts have also yet to be sent.

Greece has still not set up a first reception centre on the Greek island of Kos, where most asylum seekers first disembark.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the summit that Bulgaria also wants a hotspot scheme.

Merkel said that setting up fences between member states is not the solution to the problem. She added that it needs to be made clear to economic migrants that they will not get the protection they are counting on.

"We are all committed to offer sanctuary, those who are fleeing can't have a choice,” Merkel said in regard to refugees who insist on seeking asylum in Germany.

Her comments were directed towards Hungary's decision to erect a razor-wire fence on the Serb border. But Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban shot back.

"If they don't like the fence, then we can let the migrants though to Austria and Germany", he said.

Beefed up border controls

Clamping down on the EU frontier may also include shifting border controls to the EU level. Plans are in the works for the European Commission to propose in December a so-called European border and coast guard system.

This includes expanding Frontex with more personal and more money. The Commission wants 60 more posts at the Warsaw-based agency.

Tusk said EU leaders had shown little enthusiasm for the idea but had agreed to continue talks about a "possible common European policy when it comes to external borders."

The EU is also discussing €1 billion fund for Turkey for 2015 to 2016 to help with refugees. The money would go towards infrastructure support to health services and education.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be meeting with Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on 5 October.

Tusk is also set to meet Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu in New York.

Agenda

Putin steals the show This WEEK

Prospects of an EU-US-Russia alliance against Islamic State (IS) and a peace deal on Ukraine take centre stage this week.

Opinion

To help refugees, EU should tackle climate

EU leaders would do well to emulate their citizens, many of whom have welcomed refugees into Europe, as well as take stock of climate and trade policies which are push factors in the first place.

EU plans fully-fledged external border force

The EU Commission will propose a reinforced border and coast guard next week to strengthen the bloc's external border controls. It could be deployed to a member state without invitation.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights