Thursday

21st Feb 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.

News in Brief

  1. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  2. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  3. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  4. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels
  5. Swedish MEP calls for discussion on Orban in EPP
  6. EU countries back copyright reform
  7. Germany keeps EU commission in dark on Dieselgate
  8. New details emerge on Slovak journalist murder

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  2. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  3. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  4. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  5. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  6. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  7. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  8. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us