EU seeks to strengthen rules on border patrols
By Toby Vogel
Plan would make it harder to veto deployment, while Frontex mission to Greece ‘has gone well’
The European Union is considering setting up a reserve of border guards to respond to surges in illegal migration such as that experienced in recent months in Greece.
The interior ministers of the EU’s member states are to discuss on Monday (8 November) whether to strengthen the current arrangements, under which they designate national border guards that can be mobilised on a request from Frontex, the EU’s border management agency. The proposal would make it more difficult for member states to reject the mobilisation of national border guards: once the initial commitment has been made, governments would be able to veto their deployment only in exceptional circumstances.
The debate will take place less than a week after Frontex sent 175 national border guards to Greece’s land border with Turkey (2 November). The Greek authorities had requested assistance to deal with a surge in illegal border-crossings.
It was the first-ever mobilisation of national border guards through Frontex. The border guards will reinforce Greek patrols for up to two months. The initial dispatch of personnel and equipment, including patrol cars and thermo-vision gear, took place without difficulty, and Ilkka Laitinen, the executive director of Frontex, is expected to brief ministers next week about the experience.
Although the mission to Greece has gone smoothly, both the European Commission and many member states want to ensure that resources earmarked for mobilisation by Frontex are in fact available when requested.