Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fortress Europe

The European Parliament called for expanding the European Union's border protection authority, Frontex, by up to 10,000 officers. The body is also pushing for tighter visa controls.

Although in the summer of 2018, heads of state and government initially supported the plan to increase Frontex's staff from 1,500 to 10,000 personnel within three years and to turn the agency into a proper authority with extended powers, this measure has not yet been enacted. The possibility of bestowing Frontex guards with the power, if needed, to act contrary to the will of a member state along its external border has again been abandoned. One MEP familiar with these kinds of jurisdictional dilemmas claimed that there is no way the responsible member states' interior ministers would ever agree to the plan.

As concrete steps have begun being implemented in recent months, more and more member states retreated. They were not prepared to delegate the necessary guards or willing to surrender sovereign tasks, such as border controls, to Brussels. Italy's populist government has accused the European Commission of wanting to interfere in the domestic affairs of member states, a complaint shared by other members of the bloc. Even Austria and Hungary, two countries that had both strongly supported expanding Frontex, are now hesitant. The establishment of EU Border and Coast Guard Agency authority, for example, which last summer was pushed as an urgent task, is now to be extended until 2027.

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer presented a plan with rules aimed at making it harder for failed asylum seekers to avoid deportation. 
Last year, Germany deported about 25,000 people. This represents just over a tenth of the total number of people ordered to leave the country. 

Opposition Left Party co-leader Bernd Riexinger accused Seehofer of acting like a "Wild West Sheriff," setting false priorities at a time when his ministry should be seeking answers to Germany's rental housing and apartment crisis. The Greens' Filiz Polat described the draft legislation as "one-sided, saying it was "highly questionable" in terms of its constitutionality, and "noxious" in relation to Germany's integration efforts.

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