Monday

24th Sep 2018

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.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  2. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  3. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  4. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  5. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  6. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  7. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  8. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us