The European Union
’s interior ministers have given their consent to a proposal for a transnational division of border and coast guard forces to step in against the huge influx of refugees.
The ministers approved the measure in a European Council meeting in Luxemburg on Thursday.
“Today, the council has reached an agreement on the European border and coast guard,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a news
conference after the meeting.
The measure now needs the blessing of the European Parliament. The 28-nation bloc wants the force to start operations in September and be fully operational by November.
The force, together with a multifaceted deal with Turkey, which was hammered out last month and under which Ankara would take in the refugees sent back from Greece, forms the pivot of the bloc’s reinforced approach against the continent’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. The crisis saw more than a million asylum seekers flooding Europe
last year, mostly fleeing war and insufferable living conditions in the Middle East.
A child cries as Syrian refugees board buses taking them to camps in other parts of Greece from the port of Piraeus in the country’s south on March 31, 2016. ©AFP
“If we keep up this pace, I have confidence we will be able to finalize the legislative process by June,” the commissioner said, referring to the parliamentary approval needed for the deployment of the additional troops.
The deployment would enable some European countries to roll back the border controls they have placed in the face of the refugee inrush in violation of free travel across the visa-free Schengen area.
Avramopoulos, meanwhile, said it was “impossible” that the force would erode national sovereignty as its deployment abroad would require the target countries’ go-ahead in advance.