European Union institutions agreed on June 22 2016 on setting up a European Border and Coast Guard, which the EU plans to have operational this summer.
A statement said that agreement on the establishment of the new agency, proposed by the European Commission, had been reached among the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission.
The European Border and Coast Guard will be composed of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the national authorities and coastguards responsible for border management.
The European Border and Coast Guard will combine a new reinforced agency, building on the foundations laid by Frontex, with the ability to draw on a reserve pool of people and equipment, the statement said.
“Member states will continue to keep their competence and sovereignty over their borders. They will continue to manage the external border day to day,” according to the statement.
“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.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had campaigned for strengthening Frontex significantly and developing it into a fully operational European Border and Coast Guard system, said: “As of now, Europe treats the protection of its borders as a common mission of solidarity.”
The European Border and Coast Guard will provide what the statement described as the missing link to strengthen Europe’s external borders, “so that people can continue to live and move freely within the European Union – helping live up to Europe’s commitment to get back to the normal functioning of the Schengen area and the lifting of temporary internal border controls by the end of the year, as set out in the Commission’s Back to Schengen Roadmap of March 4”.
The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard, as announced by Juncker in his State of the Union Speech on September 9 2015, is part of the measures under the European Agenda on Migration to reinforce the management and security of the EU’s external borders.
The statement said that the new body will help to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union, and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons.
The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard will ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders.
The announcement of the agreement comes as the EU is moving to step up its checks at external borders to cover not only non-EU citizens but also EU citizens.
The plan is for checks on all third-country nationals and EU citizens to be mandatory both when entering and when exiting the European Union. Currently, exit checks against databases are only mandatory for third-country nationals.
The European Commission is proposing a targeted modification to the Schengen Borders Code to make checks on EU citizens against all relevant databases – which are already possible – mandatory. Systematic checks of third country nationals are already and continue to be mandatory.
The checks will involve checking the person against Interpol’s database on lost and stolen travel documents, national databases of lost and stolen documents, and the Schengen Information System.
A European Commission factsheet said that it is estimated that 5000 EU citizens have travelled to conflict zones and joined terrorist groups like ISIS. When they have come back to Europe, some of these returning foreign fighters have been involved in recent terrorist attacks.
(Archive photo: Italian coast guard)