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The European Border and Coast Guard

Proposal for a


on the European Border and Coast Guard
and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC


In 2015, the European Union witnessed extraordinary pressures at its external borders with an estimated 1,5 million persons having crossed the borders illegally between January and November this year. The sheer scale of the mixed migratory flows which have crossed the external borders of the European Union and the consequent secondary movements, demonstrated that existing structures at Union and Member State level are inadequate to address the challenges arising from such a large influx. In an area without internal borders, irregular migration through the external borders of one Member State affects all other Member States within the Schengen area. The significant secondary movements have led several Member States to reintroduce border control at their internal borders. This has put considerable strain on the functioning and coherence of the Schengen area.

Throughout the current migration crisis, it became clear that the Schengen area without internal borders is only sustainable if the external borders are effectively secured and protected. The control of the Union’s external borders is a common and shared interest which must be carried out in accordance with high and uniform Union standards.

The intensified security concerns following the terrorist attacks of 2015 have added to citizens’ concerns. Whilst borders can never provide complete security, they can make a significant contribution in terms of increasing security and intelligence and thwarting future attacks. This function has become even more important in the light of the increasing phenomenon of foreign fighters involved in terrorist attacks. Reinforcing security at the external borders is therefore essential to restoring public confidence.

A single travel area without internal borders is only sustainable if the external borders are effectively protected. A chain is always only as strong as its weakest link. A decisive step towards an integrated management system for external borders therefore is needed. This is only possible as a shared task among all Member States, in line with the principles of solidarity and responsibility to which all the EU’s institutions have agreed as the guiding principles addressing the migration crisis.

The European Agenda on Migration identified the need to move to a shared management of the external borders, in line with the objective of the gradual introduction of an integrated management system for external borders’ set out in Article 77 TFEU.

Clear orientations were set out by the European Council in October 2015 to strengthen the external borders of the European Union namely by working towards the establishment of an integrated management system for the external borders and by enhancing the mandate of Frontex in the context of discussions over the development of a European Border and Coast Guard System, including as regards the deployment of Rapid Border Intervention Teams in cases where Schengen evaluations or risk analysis demonstrate the need for robust and prompt action, in cooperation with the Member State concerned. The European Council also considered that the mandate of Frontex on return should be expanded to include the right to organise joint return operations on its own initiative, and enhance its role regarding the acquisition of travel documents for returnees.

In the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed to make the management of the external borders into shared responsibility of the Member States and the European Union. On this basis, the European Agenda on Migration proposed changes to the legal basis of Frontex so as to strengthen its role and capacity. Among the other suggested steps to be taken by the Commission was the foundation of a European Border and Coast Guard, an increased role for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in the organisation and coordination of returns, inter-agency cooperation, better management of Agency and Member State assets and the initiation of the new ‘hotspot’ approach.

With this draft Regulation, the Commission contributes to rendering border management more effective and reliable by bringing it to a new level of responsibility and solidarity. Over the past few years, the European Union established a policy to enable Member States to build and maintain sound external borders. However, in the absence of strategic implementation of integrated border management at Union level, there are discrepancies in implementation that still remain at national level among Member States. Hence, there is a need, as identified by the Commission in the European Agenda on Migration, to have Union standards for border management to cover all aspects of the Union’s external border management.

This proposal builds on the existing border management policy, including the Frontex Agency but brings it to a qualitatively different level. Frontex was established by Council Regulation 2007/2004 which was subsequently amended by Regulation 863/2007 which introduced the rapid border interventions, and by Regulation 1168/2011, which highlighted the responsibility of Frontex as regards the protection of fundamental rights. This proposal substantially expands upon the ability of the Agency to respond effectively to present or future threats at the external borders by proactively reinforcing, assessing, and coordinating the actions of Member States in the implementation of appropriate measures at the external borders.

The proposal complements existing legislation by following a similar approach as the one on the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) [Regulation 1052/2013] in further fostering a spirit of cooperation, information exchange and the coordination of efforts between the Member States and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, as well as among national authorities and Union Agencies, with concrete and binding commitments. It also builds upon Regulation 656/2014 establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by Frontex. The proposal also develops and reinforces the rapid border interventions.

The proposal, and in particular the establishment of a vulnerability assessment, complements the Schengen evaluation mechanism established by Regulation 1053/2013. The Schengen evaluation mechanism is intended to maintain mutual trust among Member States. It consists of a technical and legal assessment intended to verify the correct application of the Schengen acquis and the necessary conditions for the lifting of internal border control. In cases where it results from a Schengen evaluation that there are serious deficiencies at the external border, the Commission may recommend initiating the deployment of European Border and Coast Guard Teams or presenting strategic plans to the Agency for its opinion. The present proposal is also without prejudice to the measures which may be adopted under Article 19a and 26 of the Schengen Borders Code.

The vulnerability assessment focuses on prevention so as to avoid reaching a crisis situation. It is an assessment of the operational capabilities of Member States at the external borders and for this purpose it looks into the technical equipment, capacities, resources and contingency plans. That assessment is carried out by the Agency, the Supervisory Board advises the Executive Director, who in turn decides on the necessary measures. Where a Member State would fail to comply with the decision of the Executive Director and as a result it would risk putting in jeopardy the functioning of the Schengen area, the Commission can adopt an implementing decision requiring the direct intervention by the Agency on the ground.

The draft Regulation will help to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union, and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons. The Commission is proposing to establish a European Border and Coast Guard to ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders. To further increase security for Europe's citizens, the Commission is also proposing to introduce systematic checks against relevant databases for all people entering or exiting the Schengen area.

The European Border and Coast Guard will bring together a European Border and Coast Guard Agency built from Frontex and the Member States’ authorities responsible for border management, who will continue to exercise the day-to-day management of the external border.

The new European Border and Coast Guard will have the following characteristics:

·         A rapid reserve pool of border guards and technical equipment: The Agency will be able to draw on at least 1,500 experts that can be deployed in under 3 days. For the first time the Agency will be able to acquire equipment itself and to draw on a pool of technical equipment provided by the Member States. There will no longer be shortages of staff or equipment for European border operations. The new Agency's human resources will more than double that of Frontex, to reach 1,000 permanent staff, including field operatives, by 2020.

·         A monitoring and supervisory role: A monitoring and risk analysis centre will be established to monitor migratory flows towards and within the European Union and to carry out risk analysis and mandatory vulnerability assessments to identify and address weak spots. Liaison officers will be seconded to Member States to ensure presence on the ground where the borders are at risk. The Agency will be able to assess the operational capacity, technical equipment and resources of Member States to face challenges at their external borders and require Member States to take measures to address the situation within a set time-limit in case of vulnerabilities.

·         The right to intervene: Member States can request joint operations and rapid border interventions, and deployment of the European Border and Coast Guard Teams to support these. Where deficiencies persist or where a Member State is under significant migratory pressure putting in peril the Schengen area and national action is not forthcoming or not enough, the Commission will be able to adopt an implementing decision determining that the situation at a particular section of the external borders requires urgent action at European level. This will allow the Agency to step in and deploy European Border and Coast Guard Teams to ensure that action is taken on the ground even when a Member State is unable or unwilling to take the necessary measures.

·         Coast Guard surveillance: National coastguards will be part of the European Border and Coast Guard to the extent that they carry out border control tasks. The mandates of the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency will be aligned to the new European Border and Coast Guard. The three Agencies will be able to launch joint surveillance operations, for instance by jointly operating Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones) in the Mediterranean Sea.

·         A mandate to work in third countries: The Agency will have a new mandate to send liaison officers to and launch joint operations with neighbouring third countries, including operating on their territory.

·         A stronger role in returns: A European Return Office will be established within the Agency to allow for the deployment of European Return Intervention Teams composed of escorts, monitors and return specialists who will work to effectively return illegally staying third country nationals. A standard European travel document for return will ensure a wider acceptance of returnees by third countries.

·         Guaranteeing Internal Security: The Agency will include cross-border crime and terrorism in its risk analysis and cooperate with other Union agencies and international organisations on the prevention of terrorism, in full respect of fundamental rights.

To increase security within the Schengen area, the Commission is proposing a targeted modification of the Schengen Borders Code to introduce mandatory systematic checks of EU citizens at external land, sea, and air borders. Obligatory checks on EU citizens will be introduced against databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database and relevant national systems, in order to verify that persons arriving do not represent a threat to public order and internal security. The proposal also reinforces the need to verify the biometric identifiers in the passports of EU citizens in case of doubts on the authenticity of the passport or on the legitimacy of the holder. Checks will now also be mandatory when exiting the European Union.

In principle, since controls on documents and persons can be carried out in parallel, authorities should be able to consult relevant databases without delaying border crossings. The rules provide for flexibility in cases where systematic checks could have a disproportionate impact on the flow of traffic at the border. In such cases Member States can, based on risk assessments, decide to carry out targeted checks at some land and sea borders crossings. The risk assessment shall be communicated to the Agency, which can assess the way the exception is applied in its vulnerability assessment.

The systematic checks in the databases are done on a 'hit/no hit' basis. This means that if the person does not present a risk then the check is not registered and no further processing of their data happens. Using the databases in this way means that personal data rights are only impacted to a very limited extent, and justified by the security objectives.

See details in COM(2015) 671

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Πέτρος Α. (Αθήνα / Ελλάδα) - 31 January 2016

Όλα αυτά που προτείνει η Επιτροπή είναι ημίμετρα που δεν πρόκειται να λύσουν το προσφυγικό πρόβλημα. Η μόνη λύση είναι να επέμβει η ΕΕ μαζί με τις ΗΠΑ και τη Ρωσία για να σταματήσουν την αιματοχυσία στη Μέση Ανατολή, ίσως σκοτώνοντας τους τζιχαδιστές πριν αυτοί μας σκοτώσουν εμάς.

Unfortunately ''European Study Service'', which published the 13th French edition has closed shop. I syggest that you try ''Amazon''

Irene K. (Paris / France) - 7 February 2016
Je crains que les propositions de la Commission n’arrêterons pas le flux migratoires vers l’Europe, aussi longtemps que les guerres au Moyen Orient continuent, et que, par contre, ébranlerons l’acquis Schengen et l’Union européenne elle-même.

ALI-HAIMOUD (Toulouse / France.) - 11 February 2016
I would like to buy the book of Nicholas Moussis , Accès à l'Union européenne : droit, economie, politiques , 13rd Edition - 2015 (see the following link).  How can I proceed ? Thank you for your answer.

Ken Strand (Boston / USA) - 13 February 2016
Whether it wants it or not, the European Union tends to become ‘’Fortress Europe’’, but the fortress has a soft belly!

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