Members of European Parliament have approved the proposal to assign to the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027 to strengthen the security in Mediterranean.
Europe’s external borders have seen an unprecedented rise in the numbers of illegal migrants and refugees wishing to enter the EU in recent years. The plans,adopted by MEPs during April Plenary will see the EU agency equipped with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027. The standing corps will consist of staff members employed by the agency as well as staff seconded on a mandatory basis by EU countries.
“You have to be fair with those who deserve protection, harsh with those prey on the vulnerable and firm with those who seek to break the rules” the rapporteur Roberta Metsola (pictured above), the rapporteur said.
The critics of the measure say the measure is superficial and does not address the problem of the illegal migration in a meaningful way. Often articulated promises to apply different approach to people who have right for asylum, and those who don’t are largely exclusionary, because it is impossible to trace their identities in principle.
African population is largely following verbal traditions, and has no custom to issue documents at birth. According World Bank 500 million Africans have no birth certificate and have no information on date of their birth, including day, month, year. This phenomena became notorious in Europe, when young men were successfully claiming to be minors, but there were no legal mechanism to establish their age. Subsequently in absence of population register in Sub–Saharan Africa the promises to make difference between different categories of illegal migrants crossing Mediterranean, are totally illusory.
The opponents of Roberta Metsola insist that at present shape the Coast Guard Agency is designed to accommodate illegal migrants plans to enter Europe safely, however it does not serve the interest of the European nations, some of which, like Italy, were overwhelmed by the influx of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.
“My comment on the role of NGOs is unambiguous. […] I have never questioned the sincerity of NGOs”, said French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner in a video posted on his Twitter micro blog, while ensuring that his statements, concerning NGOs were based on “facts“.
“It is documented that in some cases there have been de facto interactions between smugglers and some NGOs,” he said, citing “two Frontex reports in November and December 2016“.
On April 12, while ensuring that NGOs “play a vital role in providing assistance to migrants” in the Mediterranean, Christophe Castaner had considered that they “could be accomplices” smugglers and had called them to “have a responsible attitude“. The SOS Mediterranean Association sent him a letter denouncing “serious accusations“, assuring that none of these allegations “has ever been proven or substantiated by the slightest evidence” and that “none of the judicial proceedings initiated did not succeed“.
“Our enemies, our real enemies, our only enemies, are the smugglers. The smugglers, and nobody else“, also underlined Christophe Castaner, who denounced the reactions of indignation coming from the NGOs.
New measures strengthening the European Border and Coast Guard to secure the EU’s borders were agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on March 28. The provisionally agreed changes to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) aim to respond to the present needs in security and migration.
A new standing corps of 10 000 staff to be set up by 2027.
“The European Border and Coast Guard law will overhaul Europe’s border management. It will mean an additional 10 000 border and coast guards for Europe; more efficient returns; more tools to fight crime and will serve to allay security and crime concerns and aid in our migration strategy. Europe’s citizens were looking to us to deliver and we have, in record time. This is a win for Europe” rapporteur Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT) said.
The negotiators agreed on setting up a new standing corps to support EU countries on the ground. The new corps could, at the request of a member state, carry out border control and return tasks as well as fight cross-border crime. It would also include a rapid reaction pool for rapid border interventions.
Starting with 5 000 operational staff in 2021, the standing corps would be fully operational by 2027 with 10 000 staff. Currently, the Agency relies solely on member states’ contributions.
The updated Agency would be able to support return procedures in member states, for example by identifying irregularly staying non-EU nationals and assisting national authorities in obtaining travel documents. The new rules would also strengthen the cooperation with the EU Asylum Agency.
EP and Council negotiators agreed that cooperation with non-EU countries needs to be strengthened. MEPs managed to introduce several safeguards to ensure respect for fundamental rights and protection of personal data is included in such cooperation.
To ensure effective scrutiny by the EP of the Agency and by the national parliaments of national authorities, the agreement introduces greater inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Agency’s management will be required also to attend joint meetings of the European and national parliaments.
Home affairs ministers discussed a Commission proposal on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG). They expressed their general wish to strengthen the mandate of the EBCG, in particular on returns and cooperation with third countries. They also shared their views on the size, composition, tasks and powers of the EBCG standing corps, as well as on the timeframe needed to fully establish the corps.
On the basis of this discussion, work will continue at technical level.
There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex (pictured), including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency.
“There was a general agreement at the meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that the supporting role of Frontex, including on returns and cooperation with third countries, needs to be further strengthened. Today we have made good progress on our way to get there by discussing a number of practical aspects, in particular the future mandate of Frontex, member states’ responsibility and the resources of the agency” Herbert Kickl, Minister for Interior of Austria.
Ministers discussed a Commission proposal reforming the return directive. They focused, in particular, on one of the new elements introduced by the proposal: the border procedure for returns, including its links with the asylum border procedure.
On the basis of political guidance provided by ministers, work will continue at technical level.
IMAGE above Marina Militare: Frontex vessel transporting illegal migrants to Italy
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz suggested European border guards Frontex should be deployed in transit countries in Africa to prevent illegal migrants from undertaking crossings in the Mediterranean Sea in dinky boats, risking their lives.
During an interview with Sunday’s edition of German newspaper Welt am Sonntag Kurz shared his vision of the EU border protection agency Frontex mission. He proposed a format of a mandate, that should allow the monitoring of the transit countries of Maghreb, with the purpose to “act in third countries, with the permission of their governments, to end smugglers’ dirty business model and prevent smugglers’ boats setting off on the dangerous route across the Mediterranean.”
Austrian concept of illegal migration crisis solution has an extra weight because the country will preside in the European Union from July next six month. Chancellor’s governing coalition took office in December last year, following an intense election campaign marked by a paramount attention given to migrant crisis by all political forces.
The European Union’s Mediterranean countries will remain under increasing pressure from African migrants attempting to reach Europe, the head of the EU’s border agency Frontex said on Tuesday (20/02/2017).
The EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos reminded about the EU efforts to protect Mediterranean borders in his tweet.
However Commissioner’s efforts have not convinced critics of migrant crisis resolution, MEP Diane James is not short of words about flaws of EU deals with African governments.
25.07 2017. Brussels. The Council extended the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The operation has two supporting tasks: training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017).
The Council also amended the operation’s mandate to:
- set up a monitoring mechanism of trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard;
- conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017);
- enhance the possibilities for sharing information on human trafficking with member states’ law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL.
“Two years ago, the European Union’s member states decided unanimously to tackle together one of the most despicable crimes of our times – the trafficking of human beings – by establishing EUNAVFOR Med – Operation Sophia. Many suspected smugglers have been apprehended and many lives saved in the Mediterranean Sea, and since last year our women and men serving under the European flag have been also training the Libyan Coastguard and enforcing the arms embargo on the high seas off the coasts of Libya. Today, I’m particularly proud to announce that the mandate of Operation Sophia has been unanimously renewed and again with additional tasks”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.
“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan Coastguard and Navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states”, she added.
The operation Sophia has been under criticism suggesting it encourages the migrants to attempt the dangerous journey to Europe by the Mediterranean Sea in hope they would be picked by the EU vessels, and brought to Italian shores. The law of the sea is imperative about saving any human being in peril – the activity Sophia has been carrying out with rigor, saving lives of all migrants in dinky boats.