Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

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.

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.

"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.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  2. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  3. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  4. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents
  5. Hahn: EU to back entry talks with Albania and Macedonia
  6. UEFA signs deal to promote 'European values' at EURO 2020
  7. Belgian PM to host 11 EU leaders ahead of summit
  8. Tusk all but rules out pan-EU candidates in 2019 elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  2. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  3. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  4. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  5. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  6. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  7. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  8. We are not (yet) one people

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission