European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has unveiled a new proposal for the 10,000-strong European Border and Coast Guard to help better protect European borders and tackle migration.
The proposal is one of three new initiatives presented in Juncker’s State of the Union Address 2018 on September 12.
These new initiatives are being presented one week ahead of the Informal Meeting in Salzburg and constitute a concrete contribution to the discussions that EU Leaders are expected to have on migration.
“We cannot continue to squabble to find ad-hoc solutions each time a new ship arrives. Temporary solidarity is not good enough. We need lasting solidarity – today and forever more,” President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
As explained, the initiatives are intended to facilitate an overall compromise on the ongoing reform of the EU’s asylum system. Apart from the EU Border and Coast Guard which was launched in 2016, today’s proposals are related to the EU Agency for Asylum, a stronger and more effective return policy and setting out the next steps on legal migration.
“The European Border and Coast Guard’s new operational arm of 10,000 EU staff and a reinforced EU Asylum Agency will ensure EU solidarity is effectively delivered on the ground – whenever and wherever needed. We are providing member states with the necessary tools to agree on the overall reform of the EU’s asylum system and strike the right balance between solidarity and responsibility. It is now high time they deliver on this commitment,” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.
A fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard
Building on two years of work, the commission is proposing to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard even further and give it the right level of ambition, corresponding to the common challenges Europe is facing in managing migration and borders. While the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard expands, it serves to support member states and does not replace their responsibilities in external border management and return.
Today’s proposal includes:
- A standing corps of 10,000 operational staff by 2020: To ensure predictable and appropriate resources, the agency will be able to rely on its own staff and its own equipment, such as vessels, planes and vehicles;
- Executive powers: Under the authority and control of the member state to which they are deployed, members of the EU Border and Coast Guard standing corps will be able to carry out tasks requiring executive powers such as identity checks, authorising or refusing entry at the external borders, and intercepting people at the border in order to ensure their full operational effectiveness;
- More support on return: In addition to organizing and financing joint return operations, the agency will now also be able to support return procedures in member states;
- Stronger cooperation with non-EU countries: The agency will be able – subject to prior agreement of the country concerned – to launch joint operations and deploy staff outside the EU, beyond countries neighboring the EU;
- Increased financial means: The total cost of the proposed upgrade of the European Border and Coast Guard amounts to €1.3 billion for the period 2019-2020. Under the next EU budget period 2021-2027, a total of €11.3 billion is proposed.