EC adopted proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard to protect Schengen area

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Who: Proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard to protect Schengen area
What: Adopted by the European Commission (EC)
When: 15 December 2015
Why: To manage migration more effectively

The European Commission (EC) on 15 December 2015 adopted the proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard force to protect Europe’s external border and Schengen area without internal border.

The creation of new border force was part of proposals to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union, and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons.

Besides, the commission also proposed to introduce systematic checks against relevant databases for all people entering or exiting theSchengen area to further increase security for Europe’s citizens.

Key features of European Border and Coast Guard
•    The new border force will bring together a European Border and Coast Guard Agency built from Frontex and the Member States’ authorities responsible for border management.
•    They will continue to exercise the day-to-day management of the external border.
•    It will be composed of a rapid reserve pool of border guards and technical equipment, which will draw on at least 1500 experts that can be deployed in under 3 days.
•    It will have a monitoring and supervisory role and for that a monitoring and risk analysis centre will be established to monitor migratory flows towards and within the European Union.
•    They have been given the right to intervene for which Member States can request joint operations and rapid border interventions, and deployment of the European Border and Coast Guard Teams to support these.
•    To ensure Coast Guard surveillance, National coastguards have been made part of the European Border and Coast Guard to the extent that they carry out border control tasks.
•    The mandates of the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency will be aligned to the new European Border and Coast Guard so that it can launch joint surveillance operations.
•    It has also been given a mandate to launch joint operations with neighbouring third countries, including operating on their territory.
•    A European Return Office will be established within the Agency to allow for the deployment of European Return Intervention Teams composed of escorts, monitors and return specialists who will work to effectively return illegally staying third country nationals.
•    To guarantee Internal Security, the Agency will include cross-border crime and terrorism in its risk analysis and cooperate with other Union agencies and international organisations on the prevention of terrorism, in full respect of fundamental rights.

Introduction of systematic checks in Schengen area

•    EC has proposed a targeted modification of the Schengen Borders Code to introduce mandatory systematic checks of EU citizens at external land, sea, and air borders.
•    Obligatory checks on EU citizens will be introduced against databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database
•    Reinforces the need to verify the biometric identifiers in the passports of EU citizens in case of doubts on the authenticity of the passport or on the legitimacy of the holder.
•    Checks will now also be mandatory when exiting the European Union.

Background
The proposal for establishing a European Border and Coast Guard was announced by European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union Speech on 9 September 2015.

It is part of the measures under the European Agenda on Migration to reinforce the management and security of the EU’s external borders.

The European Agenda on Migration adopted by the Commission in May 2015 set out the need for a comprehensive approach to migration management.

However, it was the Paris terrorist attack that led to swiftly adoption of the proposal to establish a European Border and Coast Guard Agency.