EU Proposes Stronger Border Agency, Mandatory Checks to Stem Migrant Influx

World » EU | December 15, 2015, Tuesday // 21:02
Bulgaria: EU Proposes Stronger Border Agency, Mandatory Checks to Stem Migrant Influx A group of refugees and migrants are towed in a dinghy by a coast guard patrol boat, following a successful rescue operation, on the Greek island of Lesbos (Lesvos), Greece, 15 December 2015, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. EPA/BGNES

The European Commission adopted on Tuesday new measures for managing the European Union's external borders more efficiently and preserving the security of the bloc's Schengen area of passport-free travel.

“At the heart of today’s package is the creation of an European Border and Coast Guard and a targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code to allow for systematic security checks at the EU’s external borders,” the Commission said in a statement. 

The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard aims to ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders. The new body will bring together the European border agency Frontex and the member states’ authorities responsible for border management, who will continue to exercise the day-to-day management of the external border.

The new European Border and Coast Guard will have the right to intervene – under a decision of the Commission - by deploying its teams in cases “where deficiencies persist or where a Member State is under significant migratory pressure putting in peril the Schengen area and national action is not forthcoming or not enough”.

To boost security for European citizens, the Commission is also proposing to introduce mandatory systematic checks of EU citizens against relevant databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database and relevant national systems at external land, sea, and air borders.

The proposed checks will apply to all people entering or exiting the Schengen area of passport-free travel in order to verify that persons arriving do not represent a threat to public order and internal security. Checks will now also be mandatory when exiting the European Union. The change is widely seen as a response to last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which revealed that some of the attackers were European Union citizens who had re-entered the bloc through its external borders.

“The system we propose will allow for an identification of any weaknesses in real time so that they can be remedied quickly, also improving our collective ability to deal effectively with crisis situations where a section of the external border is placed under strong pressure," European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans commented.

Between January and November 2015 an estimated 1.5 million persons have crossed the EU external borders illegally – an all-time high. From July to September, 413 800 persons applied for international protection in the Member States, twice as many as in the second quarter of 2015, the Commission said.

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Tags: EU, migrants, refugees, FRONTEX, European Border and Coast Guard, Schengen, attacks, Paris, external border
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