Thursday

30th Mar 2017

EU agrees new border guard agency

  • Frontex is set to become bigger and much more powerful (Photo: Frontex)

The EU on Tuesday (21 June) reached a political agreement on a new EU border and coast agency but removed a controversial "right to intervene" feature.

The plan, first floated by the European Commission in December, would have allowed the new agency to deploy guards to an EU state without its consent.

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.

The latest iteration, hammered out late Tuesday evening between the EU institutions, now only allows EU states to impose internal border checks in the Schengen free travel area as a last resort.

The move signals broader fears over uncontrolled migration should an EU state fail to contain a sudden mass influx of people and then refuse help from the new border agency.

"As of now, Europe treats the protection of its borders as a common mission of solidarity," said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement.

The new system and agency was proposed after over 1 million people entered the EU last year, mostly through Greece, to seek international protection.

After six months of talks, the EU institutions reached a political agreement that will entitle member states, among other things, to temporarily shelve passport-free Schengen borders if another member state refuses to let border guards come in.

Such a move can only be triggered on an EU commission recommendation that says the Schengen area is under an existential threat. It then has to be voted through the Council, representing member states.

The European Parliament civil liberties (Libe) had opposed the internal control measures in May but negotiators capitulated following last minute talks on Tuesday.

The weakened clause is part of a new EU regulation to set up an EU border and coast guard agency that will replace the much weaker Warsaw-based Frontex.

The proposal will now go back to the Libe committee next week before a plenary session vote in early July in Strasbourg.

1,500 border guards

The new agency, which is formally a legal extension of Frontex, will have a pool of 1,500 guards at its disposal, and will remain based in Warsaw.

The plan is to have it operational by the end of summer or the start of autumn.

"This is not a silver bullet that can solve the current migration crisis or restore the Schengen area overnight, but it is a very much-needed first step," said the EU parliament's lead negotiator on the file, centre-right Latvian MEP Artis Pabriks.

Each EU state will have to contribute a set number of guards to reach the 1,500 target.

An annex in the regulation, once published, will outline exactly how many each EU state has to contribute.

Governments will also have to provide technical equipment and pay idle guards. But once deployed, the agency will pick up the border guard tab.

The EU commission had also wanted to empower the new agency with booting out rejected migrants in non-EU countries.

But the idea was rejected by the EU parliament and is no longer part of the final plan.

Instead, the agency will only be able to send people packing once confirmed by EU state national authorities.

New EU border agency to 'stress test' member states

Frontex, the EU border agency, is set to morph in a much more powerful European border and coast guard agency. EU states are set to come under its scrutiny before the end of the year.

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

EU stands aside as Hungary detains migrants

Commission is withholding action on Hungary's detention of asylum seekers, even as the Hungarian government tries to "stop Brussels" on immigration policy.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus