EU lawmakers endorse new border and coast guard agency

European Union lawmakers endorsed plans to bring together the EU’s Frontex border agency and national border management authorities, to help manage the flow of thousands of migrants trying to find a better life in Europe.

Under the plans, national authorities will continue to manage their borders on a day-to-day basis, but if their EU external borders come under pressure, they will be able to request assistance from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG).

EU countries will establish a pool of 1,500 officers and technical equipment that the agency could rapidly deploy to deal with extraordinary migration flows.

The EBCG regulation will ensure that EU external borders are safer and better managed, said Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur Artis Pabriks of Latvia.

“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 [passport free] area, but it is a very much needed first step,” he said.

The European Parliament approved the plans at Wednesday’s plenary session by a vote of 483 to 181, with 48 abstentions.

The vote means the agency could be operational within about two months.