European Border and Coast Guard Launched
The European Commission proposed to establish a new agency last December to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the European Union, both as regards migration and internal security.
The European Border and Coast Guard was agreed to by the European Parliament and the European Council in a record time of nine months and will became operational as of October 6, 2016 at the Bulgarian external border with Turkey.
The new agency will ensure EU standards for border management are implemented at all external borders; carry out periodic risk analyses and mandatory vulnerability assessments to identify and address weak spots; be able to draw on a rapid reserve pool of at least 1,500 border guards and a technical equipment pool; and play an enhanced role in return operations.
President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission has stressed the need for the EU institutions and the member states to work very closely together to quickly set up the new agency. A full capacity for rapid reaction of the European Border and Coast Guard is scheduled for before the end of the year.
The strengthening of the protection of the EU’s external border is designed also to create the confidence needed to restore the full functioning of the Schengen area—the internal EU open-borders territory.
“The Schengen area without internal borders is only sustainable if the external borders are effectively secured and protected,” an EC statement said.
“We will defend our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard, which is now being put in place,” said Juncker, during his State of the Union address earlier this year. “Frontex [the current EU border agency] already has over 600 agents on the ground at the borders with Turkey in Greece and over 100 in Bulgaria. Now, the EU institutions and the member states should work very closely together to quickly help set up the new agency. I want to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October.”
The limitations of Frontex have hindered its ability to effectively address and remedy the situation created by the refugee crisis. It is not able to purchase its own resources, it does not have its
own operational staff and relies on member state contributions and it is unable to carry out its own return or border management operations without the prior request of a member state. The new agency will be strengthened and reinforced to address all these issues.
The flood of refugees into Europe, primarily from Syria, has not only compromised the integrity of the EU border and caused social upheaval but has also impeded cargo movements.