The EU institutions have agreed on the development of the EU border agency Frontex. According to this, EU border and coastal protection should be increased to 10,000 forces by 2027. By 2021, 5,000 officials will be available.
"With today's decision, we are making Europe safer and protecting our Schengen area," said MEP Monika Hohlmeier (CSU) from the Parliament's Interior Committee, confirming earlier statements by participants in the meeting. The agreement sends a strong signal. The external border protection has absolute priority.
The expansion comes, however, later than originally thought. The EU Commission had actually proposed in September to expand Frontex by 2020 to 10,000 officials – that would be about 8,500 more than at present.
Fewer border crossings
The Heads of State and Government had already agreed in June 2018 on an expansion. Shortly thereafter, however, many EU countries raised concerns about the EU Commission's timetable. Countries such as Italy and Greece also feared for their sovereignty on their own territory because of extended powers of Frontex. EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker then accused the EU states of "blatant hypocrisy". In the meantime, the German government had announced that it would be realistic to expand to 10,000 rescue teams by 2025.
The number of unauthorized border crossings into the EU has been falling for years. According to Frontex, it was 150,114 in 2018. That was 27 percent less than in the previous year.
The negotiations on a Europe-wide asylum reform are independent of the Frontex agreement and remain difficult. They have failed for years because Member States can not agree on the distribution of asylum seekers across all countries. States like Hungary and Poland do not want to be obligated to accept migrants.