On 15 December, Commission First Vice-President Timmermans presented in Strasbourg the EC´s newest proposal relating to the migration crisis – the establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard. This body would consist of member states´ agencies, plus a European Border and Coast Guard Agency – a revamped and strengthened Frontex. This agency would have a permanent staff of 1000 experts, plus a pool of 1500 national experts at its disposal to be deployed where needed within 3 days. The Agency would coordinate the protection of Schengen´s borders, monitor and assess risks, as well as advise national authorities. In case of a crisis such as the current one, the Agency would be ready to deploy field officers to protect Schengen´s borders. The most controversial point is that such deployment could be ordered directly by the Commission, via an implementing decision, possibly without the consent of the member state. The Agency would also have a strong role in the returns policy and would be allowed to create operative partnerships with third countries to stem migratory flows.
Many member states called for the revision of Frontex and its transformation into a true border guard force. However, notably Greece, Hungary and Poland voiced strong criticism with regard to the deployment without the state´s consent. They say this is the most sensitive point of national sovereignty. Also Sweden, overwhelmed by asylum claims at the moment, voiced concerns. However, Germany and France back the proposal, as is Italy – at least in principle.
The EC also proposes mandatory ID checks at external Schengen borders also for EU citizens – when entering, as well as when leaving Schengen. Travel documents would be screened through all relevant security databases at a hit/no-hit basis – meaning that a citizen whose information does not match any input in the databases would not be screened further.
26th February 2018
9th March 2018