France calls for EU border guard forces

French interior minister calls for EU border guard forces, as EU ministers agree to step up deportations for illegal refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees nearby a European Union sign at the Croatia-Slovenia border crossing at Bregana, Croatia, September 19, 2015.

Repeating a call by French President Francois Hollande, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve proposed his counterparts to set up an EU border guard service in order to better secure the bloc’s external borders which have been overwhelmed by huge influx of refugees.

He made the offer during an EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday. The meeting first started off with interior ministers and soon after continued with the attendance of foreign ministers from the EU as well as Balkan states, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

The details of the proposal will be smoothed out at a summit in Brussels next week, an EU source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

According to the source, Cazeneuve said, in short term the member states would make available to the EU border agency Frontex "an annual quota of border guards," but each state would "retain control over the management of the external borders of its territory," until a more ambitious system is proposed aimed at creating an European border guard force.

Although ministers said there was broad agreement, some fear the action could cause damage on national sovereignty, especially those on the Mediterranean frontline.

The European Union governments also approved a policy document to speed up deportations of illegal refugees and called on states to ensure expulsion orders are being implemented. The EU aims to step up aid programmes to urge economic migrants to return to their countries.

Moreover, attendees agreed to co-operate to end the war in Syria and stabilise Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea this year. They are fleeing war, conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, as they aim to seek asylum in European Union countries.

While Europe as a whole is dealing with “hundreds of thousands” of asylum seekers, Turkey alone is housing at least 2 million mainly Syrian refugees.

Recently, the European Union handed over a Draft Action Plan concerning the refugee crisis to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which includes an article that says the EU will give €1 billion to Turkey for the period of 2015-16 in coping with the challenge.

TRTWorld and agencies