The European Union, the European Council and the European Parliament agreed on a new border and coast guard to better manage migrant arrivals after more than a million people came to the EU since last year. The official aim of the Border and Coast Guard is to strengthen its external borders and re-install the Schengen visa-free travel, as several members states suspended it due to migrant flows. However, we all know that some members suspended the Schengen movement also due to terror attacks in France and Belgium.
The EU border and coast guard will be built up on the foundations laid by Frontex, with the ability to draw on a reserve pool of people and equipment. The new corps will have a more active role in sending migrants back to their country of origin.
Bit it will also monitor and supervise countries especially those with external borders (Greece, Italy) and will have the right to intervene, if a member state is unable or unwilling to take the necessary measures.
“Member States will continue to keep their competence and sovereignty over their borders. They will continue to manage the external border day to day. But crucially, the European Border and Coast Guard will provide support to all Member States and be able to identify and intervene to address weaknesses in advance, and not when it’s too late,” the European Union said in a statement.
On December 15th 2015, the EU made a legislative proposal for the Border & Coast Guard that provides:
A rapid reserve pool of border guards and technical equipment: The Agency will be able to draw on at least 1,500 experts that can be deployed in under 3 days. The new Agency’s human resources will more than double that of Frontex, to reach 1,000 permanent staff, including field operatives, by 2020.
A monitoring and supervisory role: A monitoring and risk analysis centre will be established to monitor migratory flows towards and within the European Union and to carry out risk analysis and mandatory vulnerability assessments to identify and address weak spots. Liaison officers will be seconded to Member States to ensure presence on the ground where the borders are at risk.
The right to intervene: Member States can request joint operations and rapid border interventions, and deployment of the European Border and Coast Guard Teams to support these.Where deficiencies persist or where a Member State is under significant migratory pressure putting in peril the Schengen area and national action is not forthcoming or not enough, the Commission will be able to adopt an implementing decision determining that the situation at a particular section of the external borders requires urgent action at European level.This will allow the Agency to step in and deploy European Border and Coast Guard Teams to ensure that action is taken on the ground even when a Member State is unable or unwilling to take the necessary measures.
Coast Guard surveillance: National coastguards will be part of the European Border and Coast Guard to the extent that they carry out border control tasks. The mandates of the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency will be aligned to the new European Border and Coast Guard. The three Agencies will be able to launch joint surveillance operations, for instance by jointly operating Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones) in the Mediterranean Sea.
A mandate to work in third countries: The Agency will have a new mandate to send liaison officers to and launch joint operations with neighboring third countries, including operating on their territory.
A stronger role in returns: A European Return Office will be established within the Agency to allow for the deployment of European Return Intervention Teams composed of escorts, monitors and return specialists who will work to effectively return illegally staying third country nationals. A standard European travel document for return will ensure a wider acceptance of returnees by third countries.
Guaranteeing Internal Security: The Agency will include cross-border crime and terrorism in its risk analysis and cooperate with other Union agencies and international organisations on the prevention of terrorism, in full respect of fundamental rights.
Systematic checks of EU citizens at external borders: To increase security within the Schengen area, the Commission is proposing a targeted modification of the Schengen Borders Code to introduce mandatory systematic checks of EU citizens at external land, sea, and air borders.
The Netherlands that currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency has chaperoned the border guard plan through.
Dutch Migration Minister Klaas Dijkhoff said Wednesday that with the move “we have more control over migration streams and we enlarge the safety of our citizens.”
According to Euobeserver, this controversial “right to intervene” feature was removed from the new legislation.
“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.”
I suppose, President Juncker would fire the media team as the EU statement about the agreement was linking to the December 2015 legislation proposal, where the “right to intervention” still stands.
PS “and more control over our external borders and our member-states,” I would add. I can understand some Britons voting for Brexit today.