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Frontex proposal: Presidency attempts to "accommodate Member States' concerns" over "standing corps" and executive powers
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The Council of the EU is pressing ahead with negotiations on the new Frontex proposals, which were announced by the Commission last September. Recent Council documents show that the proposal to introduce a "standing corps" of 10,000 border guards at the disposal of Frontex (now formally known as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) has caused some consternation amongst Member States, as have proposals to provide Frontex staff and members of "teams" with executive powers.

On the standing corps and executive powers: NOTE from: Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (5358/19, 18 January 2019, LIMITE, pdf):

"...concerns were raised by Member States on the proposed parameters for the standing corps of 10 000 staff, in particular related to its size and the implementation time-frame, as well as the powers of the statutory staff.

In the light of these discussions and in line with the aforementioned European Council Conclusions, the Presidency has been pursuing intensive work to accommodate Member States' concerns and to effectively address outstanding issues, especially those related to the standing corps, with a view to reaching a politically balanced and operationally feasible compromise. The text set out in the Annex provides efficient solutions for the current and future challenges at the EU external borders and in the area of return."

The document, produced by the Austrian Presidency of the Council (in post from July-December 2018 and now replaced by the Romanian authorities from January-June 2019) provides explanations over the proposed timeframe for putting together the "standing corps" and how and by whom decisions over deployments are to be made.

It also addresses issues relating to statutory staff and members of "teams" put together by Frontex holding executive powers:

"at the expert level, concerns were raised regarding the incompatibility of certain executive powers with national legislation or with the principle of sovereignty.

The compromise text proposal includes strong safeguards in this regard, ensuring that it is up to the host Member States to decide which individual powers from the list are to be attributed to the members of the teams deployed in the context of operations...

the Presidency is of the opinion that the compromise text submitted in the Annex to this Note constitutes a realistic transposition of the political will to strengthen the mandate of the Agency in two key areas of the proposal, namely the establishment of the standing corps and the recognition of the executive powers of the Agency's deployed staff."

A subsequent document, this time addressed to the Council's Working Party on Frontiers, also deals with the topic of the standing corps: NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (15804/1/18 REV 1, LIMITE, 7 January 2019, pdf):

With a view to the Working Party on Frontiers on 8-9 January 2019, delegations will find attached the incoming Presidency compromise suggestions (bold/underline for additions and bold/strikethrough for deletions) regarding the Standing Corps provisions (Recital 51, Articles 46, 55 - 59, 61, 62, 83, 94, 116, 120 and Annexes I to IV).

Finally, a document containing:

"the Presidency compromise suggestions with regard to Articles 33-48 of the draft Regulation, which are not hereby amended vis-à-vis the initial version of the document. It is noted that the provisions linked with the standing corps, which are contained in doc. 15804/18, are not included in this document."

See: NOTE from: incoming Presidency to: Delegations: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard - Continuation of the second reading (15458/1/18 REV 1, LIMITE, 20 December 2018, pdf)

Further reading

For the Commission's proposal and supporting documentation, see: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (14 September 2018)

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