Saturday

16th Feb 2019

MEPs question EU border guard proposal

  • The EU'S border guard would have the right to intervene in member states in emergency situations (Photo: euoparl.europa.eu)

Leftist and Green MEPs have criticised proposals that would allow EU border guards greater powers to intervene in member states, arguing that it would not be clear who was responsible for protecting rights.

German Green MEP Ska Keller told the parliamentary committee reviewing the proposal on Monday (29 February) that it would give EU border agency Frontex “unprecedented levels” of power to intervene, without the necessary safeguards or public oversight.

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

“Who is the one in charge, who is responsible for example for fundamental rights violations? It is a problem when the competences of Frontex are mixed up with those of member states, when equipment is co-owned,” she said.

Under the European Commission proposal, a beefed-up Frontex would be able to intervene in a member state – even against that country’s will – if the passport-free Schengen area was deemed to be at risk.

The proposal is the latest attempt by the commission to control the bloc's external borders in the face of many thousands of migrants coming from the Middle East.

The Dutch presidency of the EU Council wants an agreement between member states and the European Parliament on the border guard proposal by the end of July, and the aim is to have the new agency operating in the summer.

Members of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee questioned Matthias Ruete, who heads the commission's migration and home affairs directorate, on the deadline and expressed the need for better protection of fundamental rights.

Keller highlighted that the commission had not carried out an impact assessment and questioned why the commission was in such a hurry.

Several other MEPs joined her in questioning the issue of legal responsibility in case of fundamental rights violations.

Ruete said the EU was facing an existential crisis, that is why the proposal needs to move as fast as possible.

“There is enormous pressure also from our citizens to see if we can move for a more collective management of external borders,” he said, adding that the proposal reflected the new political challenges of the EU.

He highlighted that the member state where the intervention would take place needed to agree to a joint operational plan, and there was no way the commission could force that country to cooperate.

“We can take the member state to court, that's all,” he added.

Reute stressed the intervention was based on a common decision.

The parliamentary committee is expected to vote on the proposal, for which Latvian MEP Artis Pabriks rapporteur is responsible, in May.

Pabrisk said the timetable was difficult, but manageable.

“If we succeed with this file, we can show to our electorate that the EU is serious, and efficient,” he told fellow MEPs.

EU imposes border demands on Greece

Ministers have ordered Greece to beef up its external borders with Turkey and better manage migration flows. Failure could lead to further restrictions on passport-free travel in the Schengen states.

Commission proposes common border guard

The European Commission on Tuesday proposed common management of the EU's external borders, financed jointly by all EU states, to clamp down on terrorism and illegal immigration. The Commission's paper on the integrated management of the EU's external borders states the long term objective to set up a European Corps of Border Guards. The Italian government will present on May 30 a study on the feasibility of setting up a European border control corps, tackling the political and economical aspects of this highly sensitive matter. The Commission's paper is unveiled amid debates sparked by recent success of far-right parties in Europe, who crusade against immigration and prone the closing of borders to ensure internal security.

MEPs fast-track EU border guard plan

EU parliament gives thumbs up to controversial plan for new border guard force that can be deployed to EU states even if they do not want it. Force could be operational by autumn.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us