Will the EU Border Management Agency lead to a European Border Police?

During a conference held on 18 November, policy-makers discussed options for a more efficient border management.

Policy-makers voiced their opinions on the proposed Border Management Agency and discussed the possibility of establishing a European Border Guard during a CEPS conference held on 18 November.

One of the key issues discussed at great length was whether or not the recent proposal on a Border Management Agency will lead to the creation of a European corps of border guards.

On the same day, MEPs adopted a non-binding resolution on a Greek initiative to improve the signage which directs travellers to the ‘EU lane’ or the ‘all nationalities lane’ for passport controls.

 

In an interview about the Border Management Agency published on the Europa website on 5 November, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, Antonio Vitorino, said: "The Agency only aims to coordinate the existing external border guards of the existing member states and the new member states. [...] But [the Commission] thinks that in the long run, there will be a need to develop a special body called European border guard, which will not replace the national border guards. It will be a special unit that reinforces the existing national border guards in specific circumstances but that is in the long run."

Valsamis Mitsilegas, Legal Assistant, presented the House of Lords report on proposals for a European Border Guard. The report highlights the need for increased practical co-operation between Member States and for financial arrangements to ensure that the Member States who are responsible for the longest borders do not bear a disproportionate burden. However, it states that the case for a centrally managed, multi-national European Border Guard has not been made.

Pëkka Jarviö Director General for the Finnish ministry of the Interior, wanted to see the Finnish model of border management based on close cooperation and trust with neighbours expanded throughout Europe. He is in favour of granting more human and financial resources to the Border Agency but considers that border management should remain within the national remit.

Peter Hobbing, CEPS fellow and former Head of the DG Justice and Home Affairs, European Commission, explained the reasons for setting up a centralised model above national border authorities. This model is particularly advocated by Germany. He noted that after enlargement much of Germany's eastern border will no longer be the external border of the EU and that around 10,000 German border guards will therefore be out of jobs.

 

The proposal for a Border Management Agency is now due to be submitted to the European Parliament for consultation and to the EU Council of ministers for adoption.

 

On 11 November 2003, the Commission presented a proposal to set up an Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders. The proposed agency will co-ordinate the monitoring of land, air and sea borders between Member States.

The agency will not have a policy-making role or law enforcement powers. It will help Member States to train their national border guards and carry out risk assessments. It will also co-ordinate EU-wide co-operation as regards the removal of third-country nationals illegally residing in Member States.

 

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