Riigikogu commission supports EU external borders package
The Riigikogu’s European Union Affairs Committee supported the Estonian position on the EU’s external border package on Monday. Part of the planned measures is a change of the Schengen Borders Code and increased checks along the union’s external border.
MP Kalle Palling (Reform), chairman of the commission, said these changes had been long coming, and that they would help manage the migration crisis. “The Schengen Area is only sustainable if the external border is thoroughly guarded and defended,” Palling said.
“The external border package is necessary to keep the countries who guard the external border conscientiously from being threatened by those who break the rules agreed upon,” he went on to say.
The members of the commission pointed out that the checking of persons at the EU’s external border could lead to queues, e.g. at airports. In Palling’s words, the reach of the Schengen Borders Code would widen, but member states could still make exceptions and only perform spot checks. In his opinion, waiting lines at the Estonian border won’t get much longer than they currently are.
The EU’s external border package consists of four parts. In addition to provisions for the deportation of illegal immigrants, the change of the Schengen Borders Code and checking people at the border, it also envisages closer cooperation between member states’ maritime authorities. The package also stipulates the creation of a new border and coast guard authority with extended jurisdiction.
Estonia contributes about 20 staff to the current 1500-member complementary border guard group. This group depends on the resources allocated to it by individual member states. Palling explained at the example of Greece that so far, a border country could only receive more help when they asked for it officially, which Greece hadn’t done. The new regulation would allow for an increase in personnel even if a member didn’t ask for it.
The new agency to be created will have a far-reaching and effective overview of the situation to make sure weak spots in the border are recognized in time to avoid more serious problems.
The union is planning to get to a consensus regarding the package by the end of the second quarter of 2016.