Immigration: Towards strengthening border surveillance
14 September 2011
“Immigration splits the EU,” leads La Voix du Luxembourg, following the vote in the European Parliament to strengthen Frontex, the European border surveillance agency, by requiring member states to share in its operations and by beefing up its capabilities. The newspaper, which published on its front page a photograph of the coffins of African migrants who died trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa, said that faced with the influx of refugees from North Africa in the spring, the European Commission had been the first “to seize the ball by proposing a strengthening of its powers and establishment of 'mandatory solidarity' among all member states”. Under the plan approved on Sept. 13, the member states will, among other things, put their own national border guards at the disposal of Frontex in the event of mass migration into the Schengen area. At present, “Frontex must rely on the goodwill of member states to deploy personnel and equipment in the missions of the agency.”
On September 16 as well the Commission should be presenting another instalment of the “new Schengen governance,” writes Le Figaro for its part: Brussels will now be able to suspend from the Schengen area any countries that fail to protect their sector of Europe's common border. It's a threat that especially affects Athens, notes the French daily. But this programme has not won unanimity within the EU: the Ministers of the Interior from France, Germany and Spain have already drafted a joint statement in which they refuse point-blank to surrender control over temporary checks at their own borders to the EU.