New EU border and coastguard agency sounds good in theory but questions remain, warns senior Euro-MP

The European Commission’s proposals for a new border and coastguard agency are welcome and ambitious, but key questions remain, a senior MEP has warned.

The Commission will present plans for a new external border force to the European Parliament today. The plan is to replace the current Frontex border agency with a permanent border force and coastguard, which could take control of the external frontiers of the Schengen passport-free travel area.

Under the plan, Frontex would be wound into the new European border guard, which would have a broader remit to enable better responses to future humanitarian crises like this year’s refugee crisis, when 1.2 million people sought refuge in the EU.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, will tell MEPs:

“We welcome the Commission’s ambitious proposals to address the EU’s external border system. As we approach the end of 2015, the refugee crisis remains high on the agenda and has drawn attention to the urgent need for national governments to work together and respond to the crisis in an organised and compassionate manner.

“However, there are important concerns regarding the proposals particularly with regards to the role and budget for the proposed European Boarder and Coast Guard System (EBCGS).

“Among the questions we need answers to are: How will the proposed new system, which will cost €280 million (£200m), be funded? How far could the EBCGS intervene? Is intervention triggered upon request of a EU government or by Frontex?

“I also call on the Commission to ensure Parliament is given an oversight of the EBCGS in order to ensure its full compliance with the data protection framework as well as fundamental rights, particularly concerning individual complaints.

“This proposal needs to strike the right balance between having full respect of national sovereignty whilst strengthening the EU’s external border management.”