EU to manage external borders against the will of member states; Greece to be the first target

On 16/12/2015 First Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights pictured here, participated in the plenary session of the European Parliament which focused on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 December 2015. Frans Timmermans and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, then gave a joint press conference on the adoption by the EC of substantial measures setting out a common approach to managing Europe's external borders and preserving the security of the internal Schengen area of free movement. (EC Audiovisual Services, Date: 14/12/2015 Location: Strasbourg – European Parliament, © European Union, 2015 / Photo: Jean-François Badias).

On 16/12/2015  Frans Timmermans First Vice-President of the European Commission pictured here, participated in the plenary session of the European Parliament which focused on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 December 2015. Timmermans and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, then gave a joint press conference on the adoption by the EC of substantial measures setting out a new approach to managing Europe’s external borders. (EC Audiovisual Services, Date: 14/12/2015 Location: Strasbourg – European Parliament, © European Union, 2015 / Photo: Jean-François Badias).

Last Tuesday 15 December the European Commission adopted a groundbreaking proposal for the establishment of a powerful European Border and Coast Guard to ensure strong management of the Schengen area external borders and better administration of immigration flows. According to the Commission, this Guard should be able to intervene with or without the consent of the concerned member state. The target is to effectively secure the external borders, so as the free movement of people to continue completely unhindered within the Schengen area.

The Schengen area agreement was signed in 1985 by five EU member states and since then it has been endorsed by all but four EU countries. It provided for an internally borderless area of free movement of people. Britain and Ireland chose not to participate, while Bulgaria and Romania applied but were rejected and still are candidate countries. There are also other European countries, non EU members, which participate in it (Switzerland, Norway and Iceland).

Timmermans puts it bluntly

Commission first Vice-President Frans Timmermans during a Press conference on Tuesday afternoon said that this new Border and Coast Guard will be able to take action, “even against the will of member states” and he added that “this may not happen very often”. Timmermans is well-known about his blunt statements. This time he used this tough phrasing for obvious reasons. He knows that despite the urgency and the political impasse with the immigration problem, this proposal for central action “against the will of member states” is a step too far, and the Commission first Vice President wants to make sure everybody understands that the Commission is adamant about it.

Of course the Commission proposal has to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council. As things stand now the Legislative appears rather ready to endorse with a majority vote this new and powerful Border and Coast Guard. In the European Council however the Commission proposal has to be approved in unanimity. Only then the European Union will be legitimized to send Border and Coast Guard teams to a country without her consent.

There are more tough proposals

There are more tough items in the Commission proposal though. A “European Return Office” will be established to allow for the deployment of “European Return Intervention Teams composed of escorts, monitors and return specialists”. These officials will work to “effectively return illegally staying in the EU third country nationals. A standard European travel document for return will ensure a wider acceptance of returnees by third countries”. One can easily imagine that all that would very likely entail the use of strong police action or even the deployment of military forces. To be noted that the national border and coastal guards, which will make up the EU Guard, are military bodies.

The Commission also proposes that the EU citizens themselves would undergo tougher checks and controls while entering or exiting the Schengen area. “A targeted modification of the Schengen Borders Code will introduce mandatory systematic checks of EU citizens at external land, sea, and air borders. Obligatory checks on EU citizens will be introduced against databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database and relevant national systems, in order to verify that persons arriving do not represent a threat to public order and internal security”.

Scrutinizing the EU citizens too

The proposal also reinforces “the need to verify the biometric identifiers in the passports of EU citizens in case of doubts on the authenticity of the passport or on the legitimacy of the holder. Checks will now also be mandatory when exiting the European Union”. In short all those measures are reminiscent of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ nightmare. For one thing who will “verify that persons arriving do not represent a threat to public order and internal security”. And mind you this is about EU citizens not immigrants or refugees.

Reportedly, the driving powers behind this new Commission initiative are Germany and France, the two leading EU member states, which make up the authoritative ‘directorate’ of the EU. Understandably, despite the fact that urgent and vigorous action is needed in view of the unseen before immigration flows in the EU, there are member states which appear very skeptical about the institutionalization of a centrally controlled Border and Coast Guard.

New sovereignty concessions

The whole thing comes to the concession of a critical part of national sovereignty to Brussels. Especially the advertised by Timmermans Guard interference ‘against the will of the concerned member state’, will be very difficult for a number of European capitals to swallow. As a matter of fact Greece, the country that is currently accused by everybody for letting the immigrant flows choke Europe, found it very difficult to even ask for help from Frontex. This last European service intervenes unarmed in the supervision of external EU borders, after the concerned member state asks for it. Compared with the new heavily armed Guard, Frontex is an easily palatable Brussels scheme that the Eurosceptic political groups have tolerated.

However, as they say every crisis, along with the problems it creates it also offers opportunities. In this case, if this new Commission initiative is endorsed by the Parliament and the Council will constitute a giant step forward, towards the political union of the EU. The problem is thought that the Eurosceptic political forces may use it, as an additional argument against the entire EU project, on the grounds of it being an unacceptable compromise of national sovereignty.

Who will be the first

In any case the first country to be targeted by the new Guard will be Greece, the member state that made this change to be considered as necessary. The country however is haunted by a large number of EU interventions in its economic and social policies. Now an unsolicited Brussels involvement, accompanied by a possible cooperation between EU and Turkish coast guards in the shores of the Aegean Islands, may be the last drop in an already full glass. Athens may explode under additional pressures from Berlin and Paris, over an issue touching not only its national sovereignty but Greece’s national integrity too.

In any case the Commission is now promoting its plan and yesterday Wednesday 16/12/2015 presented it in the European Parliament. The crash test for it though will be today and tomorrow at the European Council meeting of the 28 heads of government and states.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

We can feed the world in a sustainable way, but we need to act now

European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

Trump’s Syrian hit the softest option vis-a-vis Russia

Doctors are humans too: the benefits of embracing your mental status

Greece lost a month that cannot be found neither in “mini Summits” nor in Berlin

5 ways for business leaders to win in the 2020s

Commission calls on Leaders to pave the way for an agreement on a modern, balanced and fair EU budget for the future

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum 2019 concluded, in association with The European Sting

COP21 Breaking News_08 December: Cities & Regions Launch Major Five-Year Vision to Take Action on Climate Change

Trump systematically upsets global order and trade: Where does this end?

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

Mental health in medical students: the deciphered quandary

Do we have to choose between creating jobs and protecting the climate?

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

They won this year’s Nobel for economics. Here’s why their work matters

Eurozone: Disinflation engulfs the industrial goods sector

‘Many challenges to overcome’ at UN, in fight against abuse: victims’ advocate

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

Consumer protection: Deal on EU-wide rules for those sold faulty products

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Brain Drain remains a crucial and unresolved issue

Anti-vaccination: a private choice leading to collective outcomes

‘Worst devastation I have seen,’ says UN refugee envoy Angelina Jolie, as she visits West Mosul

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

Nokia wins Commission’s approval for Alcatel-Lucent acquisition: a new way for antitrust cases?

Texting is a daily source of stress for 1/3 of people – are you one of them?

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

China-EU Relations: Broader, Higher and Stronger

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns

GSMA Announces Speakers for Mobile 360 – Russia & CIS 2018

Healing of ozone layer gives hope for climate action: UN report

This is what happens when a school swaps french fries for quinoa

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

The European Brain Drain: hard facts and harder truths

EU adopts rebalancing measures in reaction to US steel and aluminium tariffs

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

The vehicles of our future

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

A European student just sets the question of the day: What kind of education policies are missing in Europe?

Eurozone: The crisis hit countries are again subsidizing the German and French banks

Yemen talks: Truce agreed over key port city of Hudaydah

Romanian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

Human traffickers in Libya are posing as UN staff, says Refugee Agency

This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

Humanitarian Aid 2016: The needs, the highlights, the crisis and the relief

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

Remembering Kofi Annan

Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors

Why Europe’s high productive performance is discredited?

The AI moment: preparing for the revolution

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

YO!Fest back in Strasbourg for the 2nd edition of the European Youth Event – 20-21 May 2016

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s