STRASBOURG, France, A plan by the European Union to create a cross-national border police to deal with refugees is causing concern in some European governments.
The European Commission, the EU’s legislative arm, announced a proposal Tuesday to a European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France, to create an EU border and coast guard force with more power than Frontex, the current border security agency, which merely coordinates personnel from member states. Some countries fear that handing over control of borders, a fundamental responsibility of a nation, violates their sovereignty.
Germany, seeking relief from dealing with one million refugees this year alone, and France, still reeling from a terrorist attack involving at least two assailants who posed as refugees to enter the country, are on board with the proposal. Other, unidentified countries regard it as a power grab by the EU.
Volker Kauder, of Germany’s Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union parties commented, “National member states should be prepared to give up their rights of sovereignty entirely or at least in part.”
The proposal calls for at least 1,000 permanent staff and a “rapid reserve” pool of 1,500 border guards, drawn from the “Schengen Area” of EU and other European countries offering free travel, without visas, across borders within the bloc. As presently proposed, the force could be deployed, in emergency situations, despite objections from the host country.
“Managing Europe’s external borders must be a shared responsibility. The crisis has exposed clear weaknesses and gaps in existing mechanisms aimed at making sure that EU standards are upheld. Therefore, it is now time to move to a truly integrated system of border management,” said Frans Timmermans, European Commission first vice president, in a statement.
When the border force would be deployed is a delicate issue yet to be negotiated.
Diplomats have privately suggested an EU coast guard will not occur soon, and the issue of ceding sovereignty will take a long time to settle. One noted, “Years will pass before this thing flies.”
By Ed Adamczyk