Effective external border control essential for free movement within the Schengen area
Over the last three years, the EU has agreed on several measures to strengthen control of its external borders. The Finnish Presidency supports actions aimed at ensuring the effective control of the EU’s external borders while also safeguarding the freedom of movement.
European Border and Coast Guard
The most important recent action taken by the EU in this field is the new Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG), which was adopted in November 2019. The plan is to reinforce the operational capacities of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) by setting up a standing corps of up to 10,000 operational staff. The obligation for Member States to participate in Frontex operations will be more binding than previously. The new Regulation also confers specific powers to Frontex staff. In the future, the EU will have its own border guards in addition to those of the Member States.
The new Frontex Regulation enters into force on 4 December 2019. The standing corps will be deployed gradually, and it is expected to be operational by 2021, although this will require a lot of hard work. Finland’s Presidency has been working hard to promote implementation of the Regulation. It is important to ensure that all Member States participate fully in implementing the Regulation, but without impairing the effectiveness of national border control activities.
Development of shared information systems
Several EU-level information system projects are under way. Finland’s Presidency has worked to support implementation of the entry/exit system (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). It has also sought to boost preparedness among the member states and EU agencies for deployment of the new systems.
Finland’s Presidency has also worked to support the implementation of the Regulation on interoperability between information systems. Deployment of the information systems for border checks will require a major effort from both Member States and EU agencies. The objective is to deploy these systems simultaneously throughout the EU. In developing these systems, every effort will be made to strike a balance between the needs of security and smooth border crossings.
Quality of border control must meet agreed standards
The EU monitors the quality of border control in order to verify that it measures up to jointly agreed standards and to ensure that any shortcomings are corrected together. Finland has sought to reinforce the quality control mechanisms for EU border security, such as the Schengen evaluation mechanism and the vulnerability assessment mechanism. This has contributed to securing the area of free movement.
Finland’s Presidency has also worked on the strategic dimension of integrated border management. The aim has been to encourage all Member States to devise and implement strategies ensuring the implementation of consistent measures EU-wide as agreed. The foundation for integrated border management strategies is to be provided by a multiannual strategic policy cycle, an idea that Finland’s Presidency has sought to foster.
Amendment of the Schengen Borders Code as regards the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders: Commission proposal
Jesse Seppälä, Senior Policy Officer, EU Coordinator, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 421141, jesse.seppala(at)raja.fi