European border guards: EU countries review their projects down

To deal with irregular migrations, the European Commission had proposed the following: in September a considerable strengthening the 2020 horizon of the European Border Guard Agency ...

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Portuguese coastguards of Frontex agency escort migrants and refugees near the Greek island of Lesbos, 18 October 2015. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF

To deal with irregular migration, the European Commission proposed in September a considerable strengthening by 2020 of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (the new official name of Frontex). But European countries, meeting this Thursday in Brussels, have slowed the ardor of Brussels believing that the goal of 10,000 border guards is not feasible.

The ambition of the EU executive "actually exceeds the realm of what is achievable, " Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl told a meeting with his counterparts from the European Union.

" I think this figure of 10,000 is a good figure, but the question is how soon and how do we get these 10,000 people together, " said the minister, saying he was working on a compromise with other countries to change the project schedule.

" We must not make utopian promises ," warned Thursday the German Minister Horst Seehofer, which supports the Commission's project like France, but challenging the pace deemed unrealistic growth in numbers. " 2025 would be an achievable horizon in my opinion to reach the 10,000, " added the German Minister, while Austria for its part proposed the date of 2027.

An expanded mandate

Frontex will have a very broad mandate, which will enable it to participate in the referral of irregular migrants to their countries of origin and to intervene in non-European countries, including African ones.

The German minister warned that the border controls reinstated in the Schengen area, notably by France and Germany, " can not be abandoned " as long as the EU's external borders are not better protected.

Border sovereignty questioned

In addition to staffing restrictions, the Brussels projects also worry countries on the borders of the EU, such as Italy, Spain, Greece or Hungary, which fear being deprived of sovereignty over their borders. in case of intervention by the European agency.

European border guard operations should always be under the control of the national authorities. But a controversial provision of the draft would give the Commission the power to decide to intervene in a country deemed to be failing in the protection of external borders, even if it does not request it.

The European Commission on Tuesday urged member states and the European Parliament to adopt the new border guard legislation before the European elections next May.

(With AFP)