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Media comments on the EC’s intent to create an EU border force

Media in most EU member states comment on the European Commission’s intent to create a European border-guard to reinforce the Schengen area and to compensate for the member states’ failure to control the EU’s outer borders. The EC is expected to present a proposal on Frontex on Tuesday. Frontex should be turned into a European border and coast guard in charge of up to 1,500 officers who can be deployed at the EU’s external borders if member states fail to control these borders.

The EC has started taking legal action against Croatia, Greece and Italy because those countries have not registered refugees. De Morgen and De Volkskrant publish an interview with EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who evokes the EC’s proposal for a European border guard. He says he did not hear any better solutions from European leaders to guard Europe’s external borders, and that the EC depends on the will of those states to act. VP Timmermans told Bild am Sonntag that “if we fail to protect our external borders, not only the Schengen agreement, but Europe fails.” Mr Timmermans has also been interviewed by other newspapers – see the section below for more information.

In an interview in Bild am Sonntag, European Commissioner for Digital Energy Günther Oettinger stresses that the refugee crisis must be tackled “as a European team,” and reject national border fences and controls. Frontex must be developed, he adds. In an interview with Ta Nea Savvatokyriako, Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos admits that this new service will be able to intervene at the EU borders even if no request is made by the concerned member state. Some media, experts and officials highlight the positive aspects of this proposal.

In an article in Slovakian daily Hospodárske noviny, Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies Daniel Gros argues that the Schengen area can only be saved by creating a common EU institution responsible for the protection of borders and the strengthening of internal security. De Tijd’s Jan Van Hessche shows some interest in the European Commission’s desire to take over border control from the EU member states. He considers that Frontex’s new role can be described as a revolution as it means that states will have to abandon part of their sovereignty.

Le Monde describes this project as “a real bomb” that will be difficult to implement, as smaller member states might be more recalcitrant. Cécile Ducourtieux writes on that this proposal is a major progress towards a common management of the EU’s borders. German media do not reject the EC’s proposal, but think that it will be difficult to implement. MEP Manfred Weber stated that Europe has been forced to “take command” by the failure of states such as Greece to protect their borders, Spiegel Online reports.

Thomas Kirchner writes for SZ that the EC’s intentions are “ambitious to daring”. According to the Kronen Zeitung and Der Standard in Austria, Chancellor Werner Faymann is positive about the EC’s proposal. Some voices are more critical. While Danish daily Jyllands-Posten speaks of a controversial proposal as national leaders are expected to meet it with some opposition, Dutch historian Thierry Baudet argues on Radio 1 that the EU rather needs a “fleet blockade” if it wants to control its borders effectively.

Helsingin Sanomat writes in its editorial that the need to improve border controls in the European Union is clear, but adds that the EC possibly knows that this radical project is over scaled and that it would require plenty of political decisions to be implemented even partially. The article adds that Finland will have difficulties in accepting this plan.

John Humphrys’ BBC Radio 4 interviews the prominent and influential German parliamentarian Stephan Meyer, who says the refugee crisis is making the abolition of the Schengen agreement necessary. In a commentary in Il Foglio, David Carretta argues that the EC’s plan for an external border-force “does not solve the problem” of migrants and refugees, and that the new force is unlikely to “bring Schengen back to life”.



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