The EU is working to improve the protection of its external borders, as part of its comprehensive approach to migration.
Today, EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s negotiating position on a regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard. On the basis of this mandate, the Romanian Presidency of the Council will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
“Today’s agreed mandate on the new Frontex rules is another step on the road towards more efficient control of the EU’s external borders. A stronger agency will provide us with new tools to face any current and future challenges to the Schengen area. We will now start negotiations with the European Parliament with the aim of reaching an agreement as soon as possible”.
Carmen Daniela Dan, Romanian minister of internal affairs
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is being strengthened in terms of staff and technical equipment. It is also being given a broader mandate to support member states’ activities on border protection, return and cooperation with third countries. The proposed new rules will incorporate the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) into the Frontex framework, to improve its functioning.
Standing corps of border and coast guards and return experts
To ensure a coherent management of the external borders and to be able to respond to situations of crisis a standing corps will be set up, with up to 10 000 operational staff by 2027. This standing corps will be composed of operational staff members from Frontex and from the member states under long or short time secondments.
Deployments of the standing corps will take place as of 1 January 2021. To be able to adapt to future situations and capabilities, 30 months after this, the European Commission will carry out a mid-term review on the overall number and composition of the standing corps. By March 2024, and following the discussion of the review by the Council and the European Parliament, the Commission will present proposals to confirm or amend the number, composition and member states’ contributions to the corps.
Member states will retain primary responsibility for the management of their borders, with the agency and its staff providing technical and operational assistance subject to the agreement of the member states concerned. Under the proposed new rules, staff of the standing corps deployed to a member state will be able to exercise some executive powers to carry out border controls or return tasks, always subject to the authorisation of the host member state, including the use of force and weapons.
Returns and cooperation with third countries
The Council already agreed a partial negotiating position on the provisions related to the enhanced role of Frontex in return and cooperation with third countries in December 2018.
On 12 September 2018, the Commission proposed an updated mandate for the European Border and Coast Guard, with the aim of further improving the control of the EU’s external borders.