The head of the EU border agency, Frontex, has said that corruption is the main hurdle facing the EU in effectively controlling its borders.
Corruption exists in countries abutting the EU but also it still exists here and there within the EU, said Mr Ilkka Laitinen, speaking in Helsinki on 2 November. “Everyone knows the places where it is possible to get quickly through the border by slipping 10 dollars into your passport,” he said.
Mr Laitinen was, however, optimistic about developments coming from Russia, where resources are being put into developing a staff of professionally trained border troops. This would be particularly effective on the Russia-Finnish border, the EU’s longest border with Russia.
It took two years of discussion before the EU border agency finally came into being in June 2005 (see EURACTIV 30 June 2005). Its remit is to co-ordinate activity between the border guards of all the member states, providing training and equipment as necessary. Although there have been suggestions of an actual EU border police force, this is not on the cards at present. The agency’s powers will be reviewed in 2007.