The 28 European Union Member States on Thursday evening in Brussels unanimously decided the establishment of a common coast guard and border guard to protect Europe’s borders.
A six-month timeline is given for the adoption and implementation of the EU border guard. Greece accepted the proposal despite initial disagreements. Until now, Athens held the stance that each member state should be responsible for protecting its own borders.
After the decision, the European Council will consult with the European Commission and the European Parliament, and progress will be assessed in the next three summits during the Dutch presidency.
Moreover, according to the text of the conclusions, the EU Member States pledged to “deal as soon possible with weaknesses at the external borders of the Schengen area, ensuring systematic security checks with updated databases and to prevent the falsification of documents.”
They also committed to improve the function of hot spots, creating the necessary capacity to receive refugees, to agree on a precise calendar for the creation of additional hot spots, and ensure that Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office will have the necessary equipment and expertise.
The council further decided that EU should “ensure systematic and complete identification, fingerprinting, take all necessary measures to avoid registration refusal, and reduce irregular migration flows”.
Also, it was decided to further accelerate the relocation of refugees from the countries receiving the greatest pressure, such as Greece and Italy, returning to the countries of origin migrants who are not in need of international protection.
Finally, it was agreed to implement decisions of the Summit in Valletta with Turkey on November 29 and find ways to allocate 3 billion euros in financial aid to be given to Turkey to tackle the refugee inflow.
European Council President Donald Tusk said, “if we fail to protect European Union borders, we would have failed as a political union not just as Schengen zone.”
“The good news comes from Greece,” Tusk said, “where Frontex agreed to send RABIT teams for operations in the Aegean since mid-December.”