Sunday

21st Apr 2019

New EU border force: 'right to intervene'

  • Greek border: Over 700,000 people walked through Greece so far this year (Photo: euoparl.europa.eu)

A new EU border control force, to be proposed next week by the European Commission, would have the “right to intervene” if member states fail to protect the bloc’s external boundary.

The draft proposal, seen by EUobserver, is to create a European Border and Coast Guard Agency, replacing Frontex, the EU’s current border control institute.

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

  • Frontex already works with Greek border guards on small scale (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

It could be posted to EU states in emergencies, where deficiencies persist in control of borders, and where national action is lacking.

“The commission will be able to adopt an implementing decision determining that the situation at a particular section of the external borders requires urgent action and entrusting the agency with the task of carrying out appropriate operational measures,” the proposal says.

“This will allow the agency to intervene immediately in crisis situations by deploying European Border and Coast Guard Teams at the external border.”

It adds: “In urgent situations, the agency must be able to step in to ensure that action is taken on the ground even where there is no request for assistance from the member state concerned or where that member state considers that there is no need for additional intervention.”

Under the protocol, the commission proposes deploying the EU border force to a given member state or states.

If the member state rejects the EU intervention, it must rally a “reverse qualified majority” in the EU Council, amounting to three quarters of votes, to veto deployment.

The new force would have a pool of at least 1,500 guards ready to go at three days’ notice.

The new agency is to cost €280 million a year - double Frontex’ current budget. It would have 1,000 normal staff, up from around 400 at Frontex.

It would have the right to work with non-EU countries, especially in the Western Balkans, the refugees’ main transit route to the EU.

It would also help with returns, sending people home if their asylum claim is rejected.

The text says the EU should create “a new European travel document,” to be assigned to returnees who don’t have passports. It says individual EU states already issue “substitute documents,” but “recognition” of the documents by non-EU countries is “unastsifactory.”

Schengen at risk

The full proposal is to be unveiled on Tuesday (15 December) in Strasbourg, where MEPs will debate the initiative.

The 10-page draft text says the refugee crisis has exposed the weaknesses of the current external border control system. It says there’s a need for uniform standards and for quick intervention in times of crisis.

“It has become increasingly clear that the challenges these movements represent cannot be adequately dealt with by individual member states acting in an uncoordinated manner,” it notes.

The proposal says the EU’s passport-free travel zone, the Schengen area, a jewel of EU integration, can only be maintained “if its external borders are effectively secured and protected.”

Political context

It notes the general public has lost confidence in the EU’s ability to manage the situation, a feeling which is being exploited by populist politicians.

It adds: “Security concerns following the terrorist attacks of this year, and the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, have only added to citizens' concerns.”

The proposal comes after more than 700,000 people walked through Greece in the first 11 months of the year, the vast majority of them unregistered.

The total number of “illegal” crossings of EU borders between January and November 2015 is said to be “almost 1.5 million.”

EU leaders have warned that if Schengen falls, the single market, and the euro could also be at risk, after Austria, Germany, and Sweden, among others, temporarily reimposed Schengen checks.

The last time the EU used a Council vote to impose migration policy, in September, on relocation quotas, it prompted an outcry on national sovereignty by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.

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.

Frontex to get budget hike after refugee failures

Frontex, the EU's external border agency, is being given a 54 percent budget rise next year as part of a new European Commission package of initiatives to tackle the continent's refugee and migrant crisis.

EU border control plan faces resistance

Ministers agree need to better protect external border, but Hungary and Poland critical of plans for EU border force with "right to intervene" even if states don't want it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us