Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

Leaders impose June deadline for EU border force

  • Asylum seekers on Greek coast in October (Photo: CAFOD Photo Library)

A plan to create an European border and coast guard system was backed by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday (17 December).

Despite outstanding issues over national sovereignty, leaders agreed to have the Council, representing member states, adopt its legislative position before the end of June next year.

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

"Above all, we are failing to protect our external borders. That is why leaders have decided to speed up on all these issues," the EU Council chief Donald Tusk told reporters.

First announced by the European Commission earlier this week, the proposal is part of a larger border package designed to curb the inflow of people seeking asylum in the EU.

Some 1.2 million asylum seekers arrived in the EU since the start of the year, representing a 90 percent increase compared to 2014.

Most landed on the Greek islands in the Aegean after disembarking from Turkey. From there, they head to Macedonia and onward to mainland EU.

Bad weather has helped stem the flow of refugees since the start of November.

The new border agency would be able to draw from a pool of 1,500 guards. The European commission would be entitled to dispatch the guards without the consent of the nation state if required.

The measure, described by one EU official as "the invasion clause," is unlikely to garner broad support among the 28 capitals.

But leaders on Thursday wanted to send a strong political signal, noting that regaining control over external borders is indispensable in safeguarding the "integrity" of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel said there is now an awareness that preserving Schengen and controlling migratory flows are interlinked.

Germany, in mid-September, had introduced internal border checks amid large numbers of asylum seekers transiting through Austria. Similar moves were made by the Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, and Slovakia.

Fears are mounting that more internal border controls would eventually lead to Schengen's collapse unless the external borders are better managed.

Turkey is seen as a key component.

In late November, the EU and Turkey agreed a €3 billion deal in an effort improve refugee camp conditions in Turkey and help with integration efforts of Syrians in Turkish society.

The hope among EU leaders is that Syrians and others in Turkey would have less incentive to apply for international protection in the EU.

Turkey, for its part, wants the EU states to pay up, hasten visa free liberalisation for Turks, resume EU membership talks, and start resettling UN designated refugees from Turkey to EU states.

But resettlement of refugees is a tricky issue in the EU.

A similar scheme had been launched by the European Commission over the summer to resettle some 20,000 over two years on a voluntary basis but they are few takers. Only around 600 have so far been resettled.

The commission then asked member states earlier this week to also to take in refugees from Turkey on the condition that the flow of people into Europe from Turkey is reduced.

Asked by reporters if the latest resettlement plan with Turkey is feasible, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said "it will be done".

Tusk responded in kind: "It will be done for sure."

EU leaders also remain unclear if the bulk of the €3 billion will come from the EU budget or national coffers.

A meeting of EU ambassadors has been asked to "rapidly conclude its work on how to mobilise the €3 billion."

Greece, for its, part wants Turkey to apply bilateral readmission agreements for the return of non-refugees from places like Pakistan, Iran, and Morocco.

Opinion

Central EU border security is necessary evil

If the EU gets a grip of its borders, it will help not just Europe, but also those refugees in dire need who would receive better help in a more structured environment.

Video

Rivera joins Liberals for EU pre-summit meeting

Before any EU summit in Brussels, political families come together to prepare talks. This time round Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, Spain, joined the Liberals.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

EU dismisses UN call to stop migrant returns to Libya

As the death toll of the Tajoura detention centre airstrike reached 53, including six children, the UN called for a halt to returning people to Libya. The EU - which is helping fund the Libyan coastguard - said no.

Libya: EU first sends migrants back, then deplores deaths

Some 40 died following an attack at a Libyan prison, where people hoping to reach Europe are locked up. The EU commission wants an investigation but remains silent on how it trains Libyans to return rescued migrants to the country.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. European Commission has first ever woman president
  2. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  3. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  4. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  5. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  6. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  7. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  8. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us