Thursday

15th Nov 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.

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.

Xenophobia on the rise in Germany, study finds

Germans, in particular those living in the east, are demonstrating higher levels of xeonphobia and backlash against religious minorities than when compared to five years ago, according to a new study.

News in Brief

  1. German AfD funding scandal widens
  2. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published
  3. UK cabinet agrees Brexit deal after marathon session
  4. Czechs join other EU states in rejecting UN migration pact
  5. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  6. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  7. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  8. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine

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

Latest News

  1. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  2. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  3. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  4. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  5. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  6. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  7. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  8. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us