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.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

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

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Vegetarianism is good for the economy too

Misinformation and growing distrust on vaccines, ‘dangerous as a disease’ says UNICEF chief

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the powerful

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation

DR Congo President and UN chief meet at a ‘historic moment’ for democracy in the country

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

Draghi strives to control the unruly exploitation of financial markets by banking leviathans

Eurozone: How safe are our deposits? Which banks will survive?

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Growing up near green space is good for your mental health as an adult

Here’s how data could make our cities safer

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed 157, including at least 21 UN workers

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

Finland should do more to improve job prospects of low-skilled youth

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

5 steps businesses can take to protect air quality after COVID-19

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

What matters most to young Europeans?

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

Digitalization is changing banking – These 3 trends will help shape its future

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears

How banking with blockchain can stamp out corruption and increase financial inclusion

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

The European Commission to stop Buffering

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

The blackened white coat of the doctors

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

Brexit must not put UK university research at risk

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Energy: EU funding for priority projects should reflect 2050 climate objectives

Healthy habits to help you cope with health anxiety

‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

The relation of deforestation and respiratory diseases

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

International Criminal Court acquits former president Gbagbo of war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire

How emerging markets will shape Africa in 2020

More Stings?

Advertising

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