The European Union unveiled an ambitious plan to beef up its joint external border control, nearly tripling its budget in and boosting its personnel by a factor of 10. The plans for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, were part of the financial framework for 2021-27 released on Wednesday.
The measure, designed to better control the influx of immigrants into the EU and to preserve the free movement of people within its borders, is likely to be the least controversial part of the budget framework, projected to top €1 trillion ($1.2 trillion) over the seven-year period.
The budget for border security and refugee management is put at €33 billion, compared to €12.4 billion in the current framework. EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger also wants to increase personnel at the Warsaw-based agency to 10,000 by 2027, from just over 1,000 projected for 2020.
Absolutely necessary, if only a first step. Armin Schuster, homeland security expert, Christian Democratic Union
Though Germany questions many aspects of the budget, which is increasing in spite of Britain’s planned departure from the EU, politicians of all stripes welcomed the increase in spending on border security. Social Democrat Burkhard Lischka praised the increased Frontex budget as “correct and overdue.” Armin Schuster, homeland security expert for the Christian Democrats called it “absolutely necessary, if only a first step” toward a full-fledged EU border control.
The EU has struggled to adapt to the increased influx of refugees amid turmoil in Africa and the Middle East. The increased funds will enable more help particularly for Greece and Italy, which bear the brunt of the inflow on their external borders. The goal also is to convince member states like Germany, Austria and France to relax some of the interior border controls they implemented in the wake of the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks.
Till Hoppe is a Brussels correspondent for Handelsblatt. Frank Specht is a reporter in the Berlin bureau. Darrell Delamaide adapted this into English for Handelsblatt Global. To contact the authors: [email protected] and s[email protected]