The European Union on Thursday announced the creation of a new cooperative Border and Coast Guard Agency that will patrol its external borders and deal with the influx of refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa.
The new agency will complement independent border police in each of the 28 nations that make up the bloc, and work with those agencies to “quickly identify and address any potential security threats to the EU’s external border,” according to a statement released by the European Commission.
"Today is a milestone in the history of European border management. From now onwards, the external EU border of one Member State is the external border of all Member States – both legally and operationally,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters. “This is exactly the European response that we need for the security and migration challenges of the 21st century."
EU Commissioner of Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos poses for a picture with border police from Finland during the official launch of the European Union's Border and Coast Guard Agency at a border crossing on the Bulgarian-Turkish border in Kapitan Andreevo, Bulgaria, October 6, 2016.
The role of the new border agency will expand the responsibilities of the EU’s already existing Frontex force to offer operational support to neighboring non-EU countries and share intelligence regarding criminal activities across borders, Fabrice Leggeri, executive director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said.
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The agency will be fully rolled out over the next six months, and is expected to be fully operational by March 2017. Once it is fully established, the new border agency will keep a reserve pool of 1,500 border guards that can deploy rapidly in the event of an emergency.
The establishment of the force came as a response to the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. The EU accepted a total of around 1.5 million asylum-seekers in the past year.