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Soon European border guards in Greece or elsewhere?

(B2)" Without effective control over our borders, Schengen will not survive ". This is the leitmotif of Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, as of most of the European leaders who are meeting today (19 November) in Brussels for a new European summit devoted to the refugee crisis. They will have grain to grind...

A bundle of decisions

The European Commission, chaired by the Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker, has worked hard in recent weeks to develop a "package" of measures to "plug" all the existing holes, both legislative and operational. A revision of the Schengen Code was thus presented on Tuesday. It will make systematic border controls possible for Europeans as well. An evolution requested by Paris and Berlin.

A bold proposal

The Commission is also putting a very audacious proposal on the table: the creation of a body of European border and coast guards. An idea often evoked, never concretized. It's been a long time since we've seen such a concrete and ambitious project in Brussels. No more usual caution, no more procrastination. The Commission proposal provides for giving the current agency, Frontex, more extensive powers.

A real ability to intervene

Frontex II (*) will thus have a real capacity to intervene, at the request of the Member States but also on its own initiative in the event of an emergency. " Times, minds have changed explains Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos. " If we don't take strong measures, the whole Schengen area is threatened ". Today, with each crisis, we have to go and do the quest adds a European expert. It doesn't always work well. In October, the Frontex agency launched an appeal to have nearly 800 police and border guards deployed in Greece. A month later, she still only had half of it!

Doubled means

The new-look European border and coast guards will have broader skills: from rescue at sea to supporting the return of deported immigrants, including risk analysis. They will have an increased budget of 340 million euros by 2020. They will be able to buy certain equipment (scanners, etc.) or rent it (planes, boats, radars). The staff will double. About 600 hires are planned! And an operational reserve will be created, of at least 1500 experts. Police officers, coastguards already stationed in the Member States but ready to leave within 72 hours in the event of an alert. A bit like the Cheetah alert for the army in France.

A quack...

The only small hiccup in this project, the Commission has planned to entrust a committee with the task of deciding, all by itself, the deployment of border guards, even if a country has not expressly requested it. What to throw in the stretchers some states ticklish on their sovereignty, Poles or Hungarians in particular. Nor do the Nordics — Sweden and Finland — like the process, which they consider undemocratic. At the Commission, we relate this difficulty. It's not " that a proposal, free to the Member States (or to the European Parliament) to amend it recalls a European diplomat.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Paper published in Sud-Ouest this Thursday morning

Read also: European border guards, a great idea. Corn…

(1) A terminology that we do not really like on the side of the Commission where we prefer to speak of complete innovation

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).