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Home » Border Security, Migration

Steps to better manage our borders

Submitted by on 30 Nov 2016 – 13:15

The Border Security Roundtable organised by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies, took place on the 11th of October 2016 in Brussels. This year’s meeting brought together Members of the European Parliament, senior representatives from the European Commission, Border Security Forces, Police Forces, Human Rights Groups and NGOs to discuss the current challenges in the EU surrounding Border Security, operational weaknesses, technological developments and other key political and social developments affecting the EU.

The objective of this meeting was to put forward recommendations to the European Parliament, the European Commission and member states to address current shortfalls and improve existing policy on Border Security.

The European Parliament viewpoint

Mr. Geoffrey Van Orden MBE, MEP, gave his appraisal of the challenges facing the EU. Of the 200 million border crossing that took place in 2016 across the EU, 2 million of them were illegal. He addressed the issue of migration and its impact on security forces. He highlighted the sensitive, but important crossover between terrorism, migration, lack of adequate security initiatives and current EU policies. He went on to stress that member states should go beyond just physical controls – more needs to be done to prevent illegal migration.

The European Commission viewpoint

Mr. Istvan Dobo, Policy Officer in the Border Management and Schengen Unit of the European Commission clarified that the word Frontex has been inaccurately used as the main border security agency in the EU. In fact, he noted that the organisation that manages the EU’s borders is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA). He highlighted the complexities involved in managing Europe’s borders. Before any new measures are adopted, it is necessary to take into account the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out clear procedures and they have to be adhered to. Although the EBCGA oversees policy in the EU, it still leaves the policing of borders with the member states. Finally, he highlighted the need for greater cooperation between member states, police forces, border security forces and other stakeholders to ensure the EUs borders are adequately protected.

Lack of a common security policy

There is a lack of consensus on a common and unanimous security policy in the EU. This is allowing the current systems to be abused by criminals and illegal migrants. There are different security systems in member states and this can cause major security lapses. The EU needs to establish different policies for migrants from war-torn countries.

Human rights and children

There were conflicting views on the issue of curbing migration. Some participants felt it was the duty of the EU and its member states to take measures to accommodate migrants from Syria, Iraq and other countries facing civil war. While discussing ways to tackle human trafficking, some participants noted that children should not be treated in the same way as adults, especially as the number of child trafficking cases have increased over the last 18 months.

There were a range of issues discussed at the roundtable including upcoming border security technologies, the need to strengthen databases, adequate training for police forces, risk management and other interesting developments. Towards the end of the roundtable, policy makers offered the following recommendations to better manage our borders.

– Public Private Partnerships should be strengthened to ensure all key stakeholders have access to the same information. Eg. Police forces and the airline industry;

– Cooperation between member states is important and the European Commission should facilitate better information sharing;

– Digitalisation and verification should be watertight and technologies that are successful should be rolled out across the region;

– Border security should not just be about external borders; it should encompass internal ones as well;

– Security and ease of travel should go hand in hand – we cannot have tradeoffs between the two and the EU should focus on ensuring security measure do not cause delays in airports and borders;

– Pilot projects should be given set dates for completion and feasibility studies should be fast tracked;

– Effective Schengen border management strategies should be devised and implemented;

– Border security forces should work closely with social services, educational institutions, human rights groups etc in order to put in place robust preventative measures;

– Biometric technologies should be researched further and the European Commission should initiate such projects;

– Legal loopholes have to be addressed as a matter of urgency especially around the lack of documentation, especially as the latter is the single most common problem faced by border security forces across the EU;

– The EU should not lose sight of the most vulnerable people in its quest to improve security – this is as much a humanitarian issue as it is a security one;

– Asylum applications need to have standard criteria and genuine cases have to be approved within a set time frame and

– Staff training especially for border security forces should be made a priority as we are experiencing migration at unprecedented levels.

Delegates at Border Security Roundtable 2016

Chief Police Commissioner, Belgian Federal Police, Director of Business Development, Broadcast Microwave Services,Inc., Vice President of Security & Contingency, Brussels Airlines, Coordinator of the Centre of Thematic Expertise (CoTE) on Crisis Reaction and Security Sector Reform, Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR), Sr. Marketing Manager, Govt Solutions, Entrust Datacard, Liaison Officer to the EU Institutions in Brussels, European Asylum Support Office, Advisor to the EU Counter-terrorism Director, European Commission, Coordinator for Migration, European Commission, Directorate-General Justice, Director of Migration and Protection, European Commission – Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, Policy Advisor, European Network of Migrant Women, MEP France, European Parliament, MEP UK, European Parliament, MEP Czech Republic, European Parliament, MEP UK, European Parliament, MEP Belgium, European Parliament, MEP, Vice Chair of Security Committee, European Parliament, MEP, Chair of the Delegation for Relations with NATO, European Parliament, Junior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre, Special Assistant to the Chairman, European Union Military Committee, Programme Manager – Home Office Biometrics Programme, UK Home Office, CEO, IDECO, Thematic Specialist, Immigration and Border Management, IOM, Liaison Officer to European Institutions, International Policy Association, Sales Director, JURA Group, Counsellor, Ministry of Defence, Head of Unit for Coordination of Schengen Cooperation and Border Control, Ministry of The Interior, Czech Republic, Secretary General, Missing Children Europe, Head of Border Security and Management Unit, Transnational Threats Department, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), General Director Sales – Africa, OVD Kinegram, Head of New Business, OVD Kinegram, Advocacy Officer for Migration Policy, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, Associate, Swiss Mission to the EU, First Secretary of Embassy, Swiss Mission to the EU, Senior Liaison Officer to Frontex, UNHCR, Regional Adviser EECA Regional Office, United Nations Population Fund, Business Development Director, Government eID solutions, X INFOTECH