EU Parliament green-lights new border guard agency

An Afghan migrant carries a child at a state-run camp for refugees and migrants in Schisto, near Athens, | REUTERS

Malta Today — The European Parliament has endorsed plans for a new border and coast guard agency to help manage the thousands of asylum seekers fleeing to Europe on Wednesday. The scheme was approved by 483 votes to 181 with 48 abstentions.
Under the plans, national authorities will still manage their borders on a day-to-day basis bit will be able to seek help from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) if they external borders are under pressure.

“The European Border and Coast Guard Regulation will ensure that the EU external borders are safer and better managed. This is not a silver bullet that can solve the migration crisis that the EU is facing today or fully restore trust in the Schengen area, but it is a very much needed first step,” EU rapporteur Artis Pabriks said.

In a joint statement, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous hailed the vote as a “major step forward” towards the management of migration and the preservation of Schengen.

EU countries will establish a minimum pool of 1,500 officers and technical equipment that the agency could rapidly deploy to countries struggling with extraordinary migration flows. 

The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard, announced by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union speech in September 2015, is part of the measures under the European Agenda on Migration to reinforce the management and security of the EU’s external borders.

On 22 June this year, the European Parliament, Council and commission reached an agreement on the EC’s original proposal for a border and coast guard agency. The Council endorsed the agreement the following day.

Wednesday’s approval by the European Parliament will be followed by a final vote on technical modifications resulting from a legal-linguistic revision, before being sent to the Council for a final endorsement.