European Border and Coast Guard to be strengthened

European Border and Coast Guard
© iStock/Bartek71

The EU’s Civil Liberties Committee has approved plans to boost the power of the European Border and Coast Guard to deal with security challenges across Member States.

The updates to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) are aimed at remedying existing flaws in the system, as well as ensuring the EU can be strategically ready for future crises of security or migration. Frontex was first established as an agency in 2005 to integrate border management between Member States, before expanding to become the Border and Coast Guard Agency in 2016 in the wake of the EU’s migration crisis.

Under the revisions approved by the committee, the Border and Coast Guard will benefit from a new standing corps of 5,000 operational staff two years after the rules enter into force; increasing to 10,000 staff five years after the rules take effect. The corps will support Member States at a strategic level, conducting tasks such as migration management, border control and return efforts on request.

The revisions will further enable the Agency to provide increased support for return procedures involving irregular non-EU nationals, by identifying transgressors and sourcing the necessary travel documents to enable them to return to their home country. In conducting return operations, the Border and Coast Guard will work in tandem with the EU Asylum Agency and the authorities of in the relevant non-EU states to ensure a coordinated response; and significant safeguards will be implemented to guarantee the fundamental rights of immigrants.

Rapporteur Roberta Metsola said: “This is a milestone moment; we have shown Europe’s added value by addressing citizens’ main concern across the EU. This new law will mean 10,000 new border and coast guards whose main aim is to better protect our borders and fight cross border crime. This law is fair to those in need of protection, firm with those who do not and tough on those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable.”

The draft report will be passed to the European Council for approval, after which it will be put to a plenary session of the European Parliament.

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