Launching the European border patrols network

Last week Frontex , together with the Member States concerned, launched the European Border Patrols Network.

franco frattini  298 (photo credit: )
franco frattini 298
(photo credit: )
'The challenge posed by illegal immigration calls for innovative instruments and courageous political initiatives. As shown by the recent tragedy near Malta, involving the likely death of 50 immigrants, all efforts to reduce the loss of life at sea, such as the European Border Patrols Network, are essential, and I am ready and willing to support it." [Vice-President of the European Commission Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security] Last week Frontex (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union), together with the Member States concerned, launched the European Border Patrols Network. The official reported objective is to curb illegal immigration across the Mediterranean Sea and along the South-West Atlantic coasts and to detect emergencies at sea, thus reducing loss of life. The European Border Patrols Network will facilitate closer coordinated and cost-effective operational cooperation between the national authorities responsible for patrolling the Member States' Southern external maritime borders. Europe has conceived this new tool to foster cooperation and exchanges of information between Member States with the aim of improving joint management of the EU's maritime borders. The EU hopes that the new network will enable the Member States along the South-West Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean Sea, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Malta, Greece and Cyprus to develop an overall plan for conducting specific operations, including surveillance in selected areas of the sea. Furthermore, as the Network would require national coordination centers responsible for planning and operational coordination with other Member States and also for cooperation within their own Member State, it is sought to improve cooperation and the flow of information at the national level between the different authorities involved in managing external borders. Member States participating in patrol activities in the context of this new network will not be using the Crate (Centralized Record of Available Technical Equipment - also known as "toolbox") made available to Frontex at the beginning of 2007. This equipment is not yet ready for use, as specific memoranda of understanding have to be signed between Frontex and the Member States concerned. Each Member State participating will, therefore, deploy its own resources. All Member States of the European Union (EU) are affected by the flow of international migration. Therefore, they have agreed to develop a common immigration policy at the EU level. The European Commission has made proposals for developing this policy, most of which have now become EU legislation. The main objective is to better manage migration flows by a coordinated approach that takes into account the economic and demographic situation of the EU. In spite of the restrictive immigration policies that have been in place since the 1970s in most Member States, large numbers of legal and illegal immigrants have continued to come to the EU together with asylum-seekers. Taking advantage of those seeking a better life, smuggling and trafficking networks have taken hold across the EU. This situation meant that considerable resources have had to be mobilized to fight illegal migration, especially to target traffickers and smugglers. Furthermore, it is recognized that the EU needs immigrants in certain sectors and regions in order to deal with its economic and demographic needs. In September 2005, the Commission adopted the communication "Migration and development: some concrete orientations" (COM (2005) 390). The Communication identifies a number of concrete orientations in the following areas: Remittances; Facilitating the involvement of willing Diaspora members in the development of countries of origin; Facilitating brain circulation; and Limiting the impact of brain drain. Regarding asylum The Hague Program was adopted by Heads of State on Nov. 5, 2004. It was agreed to look for a Common European Asylum System and to seek the establishment of the common asylum procedure and uniform status for those granted asylum or subsidiary protection, based on a thorough and complete evaluation of the legal instruments adopted in the first phase. In this context, the Commission is working on defining the appropriate structures to assist Member States achieve a Single Procedure, to standardize Country of Origin Information and to help address particular pressures arising from factors such as geographical location. These structures should lead to a European Support Office to oversee all forms of cooperation between Member States on the Common European Asylum System. The main goal of reinforced practical cooperation will be to improve the quality of individual decisions by Members Sates within the framework of the rules set by the Community asylum legislation. There is a clear need for better targeting and coordination of EU policies in partnership with third countries to deal more effectively with root causes and to provide for durable solutions to resolve refugee situations, particularly those refugee situations that have been continuing for some years. In this context, the Council has invited the Commission to develop Regional Protection Programs (RPP) in close cooperation with UNHCR. The financial aspects of cooperating with third countries have not been forgotten: A new financial instrument, the Aeneas program, has been set in order to finance migration - and asylum - related actions in third countries; EU250 million are foreseen for the period 2004-2008. Interestingly, this attitude towards foreigners stands in stark difference to the way the EU likes to think of itself regarding its own citizens from the Member States. Free movement of people is a basic pillar of the single area the European Union has been building since its creation. It is acknowledged as a fundamental right for EU citizens. Yet, implementing this principle by abolishing border controls at internal borders has been more difficult than for those underpinning the free circulation of capital, goods and services. Further steps, European officials tell us, are being taken to ensure that free movement is applied in a coherent and simplified way throughout the EU Member States, and that checks and controls at the EU's external frontiers are reinforced to a level that will guarantee the Union's internal peace and security. The author is the head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov Law firm.