24th Oct 2016

EU states to undergo border stress tests

  • The tests will be "about anticipating potential difficulties and preparing measures in order to deploy more equipment, more operations, if needed," the border agency chief said. (Photo:

Finland, Germany, and Slovenia will undergo border checks before similar stress tests are carried out for all EU states by the new European Border and Coast Agency.

"Six member states volunteered and we've selected three of those," the agency's chief Farbrice Leggeri told MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Wednesday (12 October).

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 Warsaw-based agency launched last week with plans to have a rapid response pool of 1,500 border guards at its disposal before the end of the year.

The agency, an evolution of Frontex, has been mandated to assess border weakness in an effort to avoid a repeat of last year's large migratory and refugee inflows.

Leggeri, who described the so-called vulnerability tests as a "kind of performance audit", said the methodology behind the future probes will most likely be adopted next week.

The three EU states will be used to set up a baseline in order to create a benchmark for the upcoming controls.

Should the agency detect a problem, then it can launch more targeted tests.

"It is about anticipating potential difficulties and preparing measures in order to deploy more equipment, more operations, if needed," he said.

Such tests are not limited to sudden large migration flows. They may also assess, for instance, whether an EU state is able to detect fraudulent documents.

If the EU state fails to plug the gap assessed by the agency, then the Council of the EU, representing member states, could reintroduce internal border controls for up to six months.

Leggeri told MEPs the tests complement but do not replace the so-called Schengen evaluation mechanism, which also monitors external border management in the Schengen free-travel zone, which covers 22 EU states and Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

Schengen mechanism

An European Commission official said that Schengen evaluation is different because it is designed to see if member states comply with the zone’s border-free rules.

Last year, the commission carried out 21 visits to EU states on Schengen compliance. Some 16 have been held so far this year, with a team sent to Austria unannounced this week.

"It comes really as a surprise and I'm very sure for Austria that it also came as a very much as a surprise," the official said.

An announced visit to France is also underway this week. Results will be kept confidential.

Portuguese centre-right MEP Carlos Coelho, who has had access to the results, said there was no reason to keep them hidden from the public.

"Ninety or 95 percent of the content doesn't justify to be classified," he told the committee on Wednesday.

Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are allowed to maintain temporary border controls until mid-November due to the migration crisis.

But the commission aims to lift the controls before the end of year as part of a “back to Schengen” plan.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity