New European Border and Coast Guard to be Established
Although some foresee a difficult future for the European Union following the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote, the EU continues to develop its institutions as the creation of an EU border control system received a first green light from European Parliament and Council negotiators.
The cornerstone of the program is to upgrade the current Frontex border agency, which, together with national border management authorities, will form a new European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG). It is now up to member states and the European Parliament as a whole to endorse the agreement.
If approved, the regulation would enable extra border guard teams to be rapidly deployed to EU countries whose external borders are under pressure. National authorities would still manage their borders day to day, but could seek help from the new agency in a crisis.
“With this regulation we have made the European Border and Coast Guard Agency more effective, more efficient and more accountable,” said Parliament’s lead negotiator on the regulation, Artis Pabriks, a member of the European People’s Party from Latvia. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so we introduced the concept that the security of EU external borders is a responsibility shared among all EU member states.”
The EBCG is designed to provide assistance to EU member states that are faced with disproportionate migratory pressure or any other challenges at its external borders. There will be an obligatory pool of 1,500 border guards and a pool of technical equipment available for the agency to deploy at any time. “The European Border and Coast Guard Regulation will ensure that the EU external borders are safer and better managed,” said Pabriks. “This is not a silver bullet that can solve the migration crisis that the EU is facing today or fully restore trust in the Schengen area, but it is very much needed first step.”
The agency will have a greater role in returning migrants to their country of origin, but only when it comes to executing decisions which have already been taken by national authorities. If a member state opposes a Council decision to provide assistance, the other EU countries may temporarily reintroduce internal border checks.
Liaison officers will monitor all EU member states with external borders. Each liaison officer may cover up to four geographically close countries, to ensure greater cooperation between the agency and the member state concerned.
The European Parliament will be kept informed through regular reporting and access to information for MEPs. Also Parliament’s role has been strengthened in the procedure for selecting the Agency’s Executive Director.
The legislation is expected to be voted on by Parliament in July.