EU executive commission unveils border guard proposal

European Commission’s proposed new border and coast guard to be used to combat refugee crisis without member countries’ permission

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Greek police officers guard the perimeter where hundreds of refugees are gathered in tents after a police operation near the village of Idomeni, Greece, December 9, 2015

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, unveiled a border and coast guard proposal on Tuesday as a precaution against the refugee crisis.

The new 1,500 strong agency will have the right to send guards, ships, planes or other assets without the consent of a state in question as is currently required.

"This is a safety net which, like all safety nets, we hope will never need to be used. But it is essential to restore the credibility of our border management system," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said. 

"In urgent situations, the Agency must be able to step in to ensure that action is taken on the ground even where there is no request for assistance from the Member State concerned or where that Member State considers that there is no need for additional intervention," a draft proposal said, according to Agence Ffrance Presse.

Some member states of the 28 nation union dislike the proposal as it is perceived that it will grant Brussels sovereignty over their own land.

The European Commission has said it is "confident" that the new border plan will be adopted by EU leaders.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that Frontex, the current European border protection agency, was limited to supporting member states with border security, but the new agency would go "beyond" that.

"The border package we are presenting today will increase security for our citizens and ensure high standards of border management," Avramopoulos said.

However, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Monday that the replacement of Frontex "by a structure that is independent of member states is shocking."

Temporary border controls reintroduced by Germany and other countries in the past weeks have created a fear of a possible collapse of the Schengen zone.

Opposing that fear, Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn, defending the proposed EU border force, said on Tuesday that "I would even say countries with no external borders should be a lot more strongly involved."

The proposal is expected to be discussed later in the week, when EU leaders will meet in Brussels for a summit. 

TRTWorld and agencies