The European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional agreement to adopt a new regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG). The text aims at reinforcing the protection of the EU's external borders, building on previous efforts of EU institutions to develop a European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) system. Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal during the April II plenary session.
In the midst of the 2015 migration crisis, the Commission proposed to upgrade the mandate of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) and transform it into the EBCG, now composed of the EBCG Agency and the Member States' national authorities responsible for border management. The agency was remodelled to ensure all Member States applied the same high border management standards effectively, and to provide more support for national authorities, especially those in frontline Member States, involved in managing migration and the fight against cross-border crime at the EU's external borders.
European Commission proposal
On 12 September 2018, the Commission proposed to strengthen the recently created EBCG as part of the initiatives aimed at developing a long-term migration policy for the EU. The proposal would equip the EBCG Agency with its own operational tool, a standing corps of 10 000 EU border guards with executive powers, therefore limiting the agency's dependence on human and technical resources provided by Member States. The EBCG standing corps would be deployed in its full capacity as of January 2020 and would be composed of staff members employed by the agency and staff seconded on a mandatory basis by the Member States. The agency would develop new activities, in particular the organisation of return operations from third countries and the deployment of migration teams in controlled centres.
European Parliament position
Parliament confirmed the decision the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to enter into interinstitutional negotiations on 12 February 2019, based on the committee’s report. Trilogue negotiations resulted in a provisional agreement on the proposal, confirmed by Coreper and the LIBE committee on 1 April 2019. Under the agreement, the EBCG standing corps would have a capacity of up to 10 000 operational staff, including staff employed by the EBCG Agency, staff seconded by Member States, and a reserve for rapid reaction (a new category of operational staff to be deployed in rapid border interventions only if all other staff categories have already been deployed). A standing corps of 5 000 EU border guards would be operational as of January 2021 and the number of operational staff would gradually be increased until a standing corps of 10 000 EU border guards became fully operational by 2027. By December 2023, the Commission would review the number and composition of the standing corps, and propose changes if necessary. The EU border guards would have executive powers subject to the host Member State's authorisation. The agency would assume new tasks, in particular in the area of return, but would not be able to organise return operations from third countries nor to deploy migration management teams in controlled centres. The text of the provisional agreement is scheduled to be put to the vote during the April II plenary session, concluding Parliament's first reading.