EU plans bigger and stronger border agency

16 Dec 15

A European border and coastguard agency will be established to police the region’s external borders in a bid to better manage the refugee crisis, the European Commission has announced.

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Refugees at the Slovenian border

Refugees at the Slovenian border

 

The commission said the new force will replace the current European border agency Frontex, and scale up and integrate operations at the EU’s external border, increasing security and migration management within the Schengen area in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the refugee crisis.

“The current migration and security challenges know no borders, and require a truly European approach,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.

“What we are creating today is more Europe: to manage our external borders, to step up returns of irregular migrants, to allow our asylum system to function properly and to strengthen checks at the external borders of the EU.”

The Schengen rules will also be modified to introduce mandatory systematic checks on EU citizens both entering and exiting the EU, which will include cross referencing the information of EU citizens arriving at the border with systems such as Interpol’s stolen and lost documents database.

Manning the border will be a new agency built from Frontex and member states’ staff. It will more than double Frontex’s numbers and be able to draw on reserves of staff and equipment within three days, eliminating the possibility of shortages, the commission said.

It will monitor for risks and weaknesses and oversee member states’ own operations and capacity and have the power to intervene when it deems this inadequate.

The agency will also have a mandate to work within countries neighbouring the EU and operate within their territory, and cooperate with countries of origin. It will scale up efforts to return migrants to their home countries and issue a standard European travel document for return to increase their acceptance.

European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans said managing Europe’s external borders “must be a shared responsibility” and that “it is now time to move to a truly integrated system of border management”.

The new package will see a gradual increase in Frontex’s budget, from the €143m originally planned for 2015 up to €322m in 2020 by which time all additional staff will have been recruited. 

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