18 people from Estonia will be working at the European Border and Coast Guard Agency which was officially launched on Thursday.
The launch event at the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint at Bulgaria's border with Turkey was attended by Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, among others.
"Today is a milestone in the history of European border management," Avramopoulos said according to a press release. "From now onwards, the external EU border of one member state is the external border of all member states – both legally and operationally."
Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia, the current holder of the rotating presidency of the European Council, said, "By launching the European Border and Coast Guard, we are creating a new reality at our external brorders. This was a a tangible outcome of the joint committment agreed upon in the Bratislava Roadmap, as we as a practical display of unity among member states. It will help us to get back to Schengen.
Executive director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Fabrice Leggeri, said the new agency is stronger and better equipped to tackle migration and security challenges at Europe's external borders and its mandate has wider scope and new powers that will allow it to act effectively.
The European Border and Coast Guard was approved by the European Parliament and Council in a record time of just nine months, as it was only on Dec. 15, 2015 that the European Commission presented a legislative proposal for the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard, building on existing structures of Frontex, to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the EU, both as regards migration and internal security.
The new agency will help to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the EU and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons. Its establishment will ensure a strong management of the EU's external borders as a shared responsibility between the union and its member states.
The initial size of the border agency is 1,500 border guards and other staff, to be provided by all member states. The biggest numbers will be provided by Germany, 225, France, 170, Italy, 125, Spain, 111, and Poland, 100. Of Estonia's neighbors, Latvia and Finland will contribute 30 people each and Lithuania 39.
Of countries that are not member states of the EU, Norway will provide 20, Switzerland 16 and Iceland two people for the cause.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla