EU leaders to ‘speed up’ new border force

EU leaders in Brussels agree to fast-track new border measures to control refugee influx, including new border and coast guard force

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) talks with European Council President Donald Tusk during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 18, 2015.

Updated Jan 19, 2016

European Union leaders agreed to establish a fast-track EU border and coast guard force and some other measures on Friday in a meeting aimed at trying to find ways to control the refugee influx across the Mediterranean.

Leaders of European countries, including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, agreed on a proposal that gives power to Brussels to send in EU border guards without a country’s consent.

After a three-hour discussion European President Donald Tusk said that the agreement would protect Europe’s Schengen open-border area.

"Tonight, we can be a bit more optimistic, because all leaders have agreed to protect Schengen," said Tusk. "In this context, we agreed to rapidly examine the European Commission’s proposal of strengthening the EU’s external borders, including the European border guard idea."

"Over the past months, the European Council has developed a strategy aimed at stemming the unprecedented migratory flows Europe is facing," the final agreement read. "However, implementation is insufficient and has to be speeded up.”

"For the integrity of Schengen to be safeguarded it is indispensable to regain control over the external borders."

Previously German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande wrote a letter to EU leaders pressing for a "sustainable and binding" mechanism in Greece and Italy to resettle refugees across EU member states.

Only about 200 refugees have been relocated in EU countries under a deal that is intended to relocate 160,000.

Both Italy and Greece are complaining that the EU has not given enough assistance to manage the refugee influx.

Recently, EU promised to give $3 billion Turkey to help curb the refugee flow to Greece.

TRTWorld and agencies