Effective external border control essential for free movement within the Schengen area

Over the last three years, the EU has agreed on several measures to strengthen control of its external borders. Finland supports actions aimed at ensuring the effective control of the EU’s external borders while also safeguarding the freedom of movement.

European Border and Coast Guard

The most important recent action taken by the EU in this field was the 2018 proposal for a new Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG). The plan is to reinforce the operational capacities of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) by setting up a standing corps of up to 10,000 operational staff. The obligation for Member States to participate in Frontex operations will be more binding than previously. The new Regulation also confers specific powers to Frontex staff. In the future, the EU will have its own border guards in addition to those of the Member States.

Interinstitutional negotiations on the new Frontex Regulation have been completed. The Regulation is expected to come into force towards the end of 2019. The standing corps will be deployed gradually, and it is expected to be operational by 2021, although this will require a lot of hard work. Finland will promote implementation of the Regulation during its Presidency. It is important to ensure that all Member States participate fully in implementing the Regulation, but without impairing the effectiveness of national border control activities.

Development of shared information systems

Several EU-level information system projects are under way. The Finnish Presidency will work to support implementation of the entry/exit system (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Finland is preparing to conduct, on behalf of the Council, the tripartite negotiations with the European Parliament and the Commission on completing the changes to the Information Systems Regulation necessary to implement the ETIAS system.

The Finnish Presidency will also work to support the implementation of the Regulation on interoperability between information systems. Deployment of the information systems for border checks will require a major effort from both Member States and EU agencies. The objective is to deploy these systems simultaneously throughout the EU. In developing these systems, every effort will be made to strike a balance between the needs of security and smooth border crossings.

Quality of border control must meet agreed standards

The EU monitors the quality of border control in order to verify that it measures up to jointly agreed standards and to ensure that any shortcomings are corrected together. Finland will seek to reinforce the quality control mechanisms for EU border security, such as the Schengen evaluation mechanism and the vulnerability assessment mechanism.

The Finnish Presidency also intends to work on the strategic dimension of integrated border management. The aim is to encourage all Member States to devise and implement strategies ensuring the implementation of consistent measures EU-wide as agreed.

Jesse Seppälä, Border Management Specialist, EU Coordinator, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 421141, jesse.seppala(at)raja.fi