EU presents new border plan to stem migrant influx

Strasbourg, Dec 16 (IANS) The European Union (EU) on Tuesday presented a new border and coast guard plan to better manage the bloc’s external borders and protect the passport-free policy, in a bid to stem the massive migrant influx.

The EU’s executive branch the European Commission proposed at the European Parliament plenary meeting here to establish a brand new authority, namely “the European Border and Coast Guard, ” to replace the Frontex, a European agency heavily relying on member states’ border control efforts, Xinhua reported.

The agency was designed to draw on at least 1,500 experts that can be quickly deployed and for the first time, to acquire technical equipment, making it no longer short of staff or equipment for European border operations.

In the meantime, its human resources will more than double that of Frontex, to reach 1,000 permanent staff, including field operatives, by 2020, the Commission said.

The EU’s proposals also provoked controversial views as the agency was granted the right to intervene in member states’ border control actions even without host country’s approval.

When urgent action needed regarding to the bloc’s external borders, the agency can “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,” said the Commission in a statement.

Europe is experiencing the worst migrant crisis since the aftermath of the Second World War as millions of refugees, mainly from war-torn Syria, flooded in the continent. The front line countries, including Italy and Greece, are struggling to tackle the massive migrant flows.

The migrant influx also put the continent’s passport-free Schengen policy at risk as many European countries have reimposed border checks to address the crisis.

“The current migration and security challenges know no borders, and require a truly European approach,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.

“Where Frontex used to be limited to supporting member states in managing their external borders, the new Border Agency will go beyond this,” he said.

The EU leaders are scheduled to discuss the proposals at a summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

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