Saturday

18th Nov 2017

EU plans fully-fledged external border force

  • Frontex's search and rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea (Photo: Frontex)

The European Union is considering a plan to introduce a permanent external border control force that could be deployed if it deems that a member state is in need of help to police its frontiers even without the EU country’s consent, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Friday (11 December).

The migration crisis has exposed the bloc’s leaky external border control, and the Paris attacks, where two suspects entered the EU posing as refugees, added to the anxieties about external border checks.

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.

There have been repeated calls by EU leaders to step up efforts to police external borders as almost a million people looking for refuge enter the bloc, according to figures by the UN’s refugee agency.

However, handing over a core sovereign power from member states to the EU, with the commission, the bloc’s executive, deciding to deploy the new border force, might be a tough sell.

It will have to be agreed by the EU member states, and in the process the proposal might be watered down.

Just last week Greece accepted the EU’s help in foreign border guards patrolling the Aegean islands, but only after much foot-dragging, and following threats that they might be pushed out of the Schengen passport-free zone.

The EU Commission is to set out the proposal, pushed by Germany and France next week (15 December), ahead of the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

Frontex, the EU’s current border control agency based in Warsaw, can only co-ordinate border protection, not enforce it. The proposed beefed-up border force would have its own border guards and equipment, and would not need to rely on member states’ contributions.

The new force would be a permanent border and coast guard with a pool of 2,000 staff that could be deployed within days.

It would not need an invitation from the member state it is set to be deployed to, ultimately the EU Commission would decide on their mobilisation after consulting member states.

The new border guard force would operate in countries that are part of the border-free travel zone, Schengen. It includes non-EU Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, but does not include the UK and Ireland.

Weak external border controls have prompted questions about the Schengen area’s viability, a prized achievement of the bloc, as migrants and refugees manage to travel freely once they enter the EU.

Some have argued that only a commonly managed external border control system can save the Schengen passport-free travel zone.

Brussels to tighten EU external borders

The European Commission is working on a new set of measures aimed at strengthening the EU's external borders, including a system that would track all non-EU nationals entering and leaving the bloc. It is also looking into a "constant surveillance" system for Europe's land and sea borders.

New EU border force: 'right to intervene'

New EU border force, to be proposed Tuesday, would have “right to intervene” if member states fail to protect external boundaries, a draft text, seen by EUobserver, says.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse