The European Parliament approved on Wednesday a proposal for a 10,000 person increase of the permanent body of European Border and Coast Guards Agency (formerly Frontex) by 2027. The motion was adopted by 403 votes for, 162 against and 44 abstentions.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker had requested that the 10,000 officers be operational as early as 2020 but more likely the Agency will reach its full capacity gradually by 2027.
Member states preferred a later deadline, mostly due to the budgetary impact of such an effort. Others, such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Hungary, also argued their opposition to being deprived of sovereignty over their borders in case of a European Agency intervention.
These misgivings were described by Juncker as “abysmal hypocrisy”, since European leaders clamour for a strengthening of Europe’s borders against illegal immigration.
The modified European Border and Coast Guards Agency (Frontex) will also include a reserve for rapid response deployment in emergencies.
The standing corps will be able to carry out executive tasks such as identity checks and authorising or refusing entry only with the agreement of the host Member State.
The Agency will acquire its own equipment, such as vessels, planes and vehicles, available to be deployed at all times. The Commission explains that the Agency will not replace national border guards and not be deployed unilaterally at the borders of member states.
The 10,000 border guards will represent only 8.7% of the total 115,000 member states operational staff in charge of border management across the EU.
The measures must still be approved by the member states (Council).
The Brussels Times