Statewatch article: RefNo# 7074
Cover-up! Proposed Regulation on European Border Guard hides unaccountable, operational bodies
Statewatch News Online, November 2003
"When people are subjected to routine fingerprinting, when they are locked up, when they are restrained by body belts and leg shackles and thirteen feet of tape, or forcibly injected with sedatives to keep them quiet as they are bundled onto an aircraft, it seems reasonable to ask what have they done? The answer is that they have tried to come to western Europe, to seek asylum, or to live here with their families, or to work here. And the whole panoply of modern policing, with its associated rhetoric, is applied against them."

(Frances Webber, "Crimes of Arrival", Statewatch, 1995)

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(This analysis as a pdf file)

On 11 November 2003 the European Commission produced its draft Regulation on the establishment of "a European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders" [COM(2003) 687, 11.11.03. Ref 1]. This long-awaited proposal is presented by the Commission as the basis for the long-term development of an EU Border Police. In this respect, however, the Regulation is little more than a window dressing exercise, giving a "legal basis" to the ad hoc development of a whole host of operational bodies and measures that are already in place. A number of documents obtained by Statewatch show the extent to which this structure has already developed.

What is new in the proposed Regulation is the de facto creation of an "EU Expulsions Agency". This "clearing house" will coordinate and organise joint deportation operations of the Member States.

As to the development of the "EU Border Police", the proposed Regulation will see the "new" agency take over the work of the "Common Unit" of external border practitioners created in June 2002. Under the supervision of this group, the EU has already set-up "operational-coordination centres" on land borders", sea borders and "airports"; a Risk Analysis Centre and a number of joint operations. This structure is not even mentioned in the Commission proposal and will continue to develop outside any meaningful democratic control.

The point of the draft Regulation is to secure EU funding, enable cooperation agreements with third states, and provide legal and political "legitimacy" for pre-existing initiatives. This legitimacy rests on "consultation" of the European and national parliaments on the legal personality of an agency that has already been de facto established, while excluding them from any role in its further development.

This analysis looks at the development of the EU border police structure and then the proposed regulation.

Preventing illegal immigration by sea: the new armada?



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The EU has already conducted a "Feasibility study on the control of the European Union's maritime borders" ("CIVIPOL") [11490/1/03, 19.9.03. Ref 2], created an EU "Sea Borders Centre" and drafted a "Programme of measures to combat illegal immigration across the maritime borders of the European Union" (hereafter, "the action plan") [13791/03, 21.10.03. Ref 3].

CIVIPOL represents a law enforcement blueprint rather than any kind of objective or broad-based "feasibility study" and the subsequent action plan proposes police, military and naval operations against people trying to reach the EU by sea. Under the proposals, the EU is planning extensive police and naval operations in foreign waters and ports. This depends upon the conclusion of agreements with "countries of origin". These are not specified but can be expected to include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Malta, Cyprus and Albania. The levers of aid and trade are to be used explicitly in this process.

The underlying principle is that the EU's "sea border" extends to any country with which it shares an ocean, basically giving it the right to police the entire sea:

The princip

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