New borders for a new Europe

6 October 2016 will be remembered by all Europeans as the day when the European Border and Coast Guard came into operation. The opening ceremony took place at the border crossing of Kapitan Andreevo, a Bulgarian town near the border with Turkey, with the presentation of the agency’s vehicles, teams and installations.

41-jesien_980This force has been built on the foundations of the European Agency for Operative Cooperation for Border Control of the member states of the Union (Frontex) and will take on functions to control and manage the border system of the Schengen Area which includes the external border and the coast guard of the member states of the Schengen Area, performing as a coordinating organ for the entire area. This initiative responds to the inability of the European Union and the member states to deal with European migration crisis a year ago, with a short-term series of responses from the European Commission.

In comparison with Frontex, the functions of which are expected to be taken over by the European Border and Coast Guard on a gradual basis, this new agency will be able to afford technical teams and deploy them on external borders without any previous warning, and will have at least 1,500 units, which will allow for rapid and efficient intervention. This will reduce the shortage of human resources and material necessary to carry out the agency’s activities. The members of this unit will provide member states with these services at the agency’s request. The European Border and Coast Guard will have to guarantee that European legislation is abided by and regularly discuss the vulnerability of external borders.

The calendar for the implantation of the agency is the following:

  • From 6 October 2016 it is legally operative.
  • On 7 December 2016 the rapid-reaction contingent and its equipment will be operative.
  • Before December 2016 the first fifty staff contracts will be signed.
  • On 7 January 2017 the contingents responsible for returning operations will come into action.
  • From January to March 2017 the first assessment of border vulnerability will be made.

According to the announcement made by the President of the European Commission in his state speech on 9 September 2015, the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard is one of the measures which are included in the European Agenda of Migration to improve EU border administration and security. The Schengen Area is only possible if external borders are really secure. The European Border and Coast Guard will facilitate the management of migration more efficiently, enhance internal security —maintaining the principle of free movement— and share the control of the EU’s external borders with its member states.

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