Monday

5th Dec 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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.

News in Brief

  1. Idea of road transport agency gains momentum among MEPs
  2. EU dismisses euro crisis risk after Italian referendum
  3. Italy result poses no risk to the EU, Sapin says
  4. EU asked to clarify links to Iran executions
  5. Italian economy minister tipped as caretaker PM
  6. EU tells US tech giants to act faster against hate speech
  7. Iceland's Pirates in bid to form government
  8. Danes are the happiest workers, study says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICESI Congress Focuses on Future of Work, Public Services and Digitalisation
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)