Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Ninth Report

Appendix 2: Call for evidence

Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union is conducting an inquiry into integrated management of the European Union's external borders and proposals to establish a European Border Guard. The starting point of the inquiry is a Communication of 7 May 2002 from the European Commission to the Council and the European Parliament Towards integrated management of the external borders of the Member States of the European Union.[94] This led in June 2002 to agreement by the Council of an action plan on external border management.[95] The inquiry will also examine the issues raised by an Italian-led feasibility study into the establishment of a European Police Border force.[96]

The Communication's premise is that there is a need for a more homogeneous level of security at the EU's external borders to ensure mutual confidence between the Member States. The issue gains added importance from the forthcoming enlargement of the EU, which will greatly extend the EU's Eastern border and put it under the control of new Member States. The eventual aim is the establishment of a European Corps of Border Guards. The Communication also examines the problems faced by existing Member States in policing long maritime borders.

The Communication identifies a number of issues that need to be addressed in the shorter term, including:

  • a common body of legislation
  • a mechanism for ensuring operational co-operation
  • common integrated risk analysis (including acting with third countries)
  • a harmonised curriculum and joint training for border guards
  • financial burden-sharing between Member States

The Italian-led feasibility study looked in more detail at the steps necessary for the gradual establishment of a European Border Guard. At Seville in June 2002 the European Council gave a general welcome to these initiatives and called for the work to be taken forward as a matter of urgency.

This inquiry is a follow-up to the Sub-Committee's recent inquiry into A Common Policy on Illegal Immigration.[97] Evidence is invited on all aspects of the subject. Questions on which the Sub-Committee would particularly welcome comments include the following:

(i) What forms of co-operation between EU Member States on external border controls already exist, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

(ii) Is the Commission's premise that a more homogeneous level of security is needed at the EU's external borders justified?

(iii) What are the implications of enlargement for external border security?

(iv) Are the measures to enhance operational and training co-operation proposed by the Commission sufficient or is there a need for a degree of legal, financial and organisational harmonisation?

(v) Should financial burden-sharing between the Member States take place?

(vi) If so, how and to what extent?

(vii) Has the case been made for a European Corps of Border Guards? If it has, what would be its main benefits and problems?What should be the nature, composition, powers and objectives of such a body? Should it operate only at land or also at sea borders?

(viii) What should its legal basis be?

(ix) How should it be organised, financed and trained?

(x) Should the UK participate in it? How would participation square with the UK's opt-out from the Schengen border control system?

7 January 2003

94   Document COM (2002) 233 final, available on the Commission's web-site: Back

95   Proposal of a plan for the management of the external borders of the Member States of the European Union, document 9834/02. Back

96   Feasibility study for the setting up of a "European Border Police", Final Report, Rome, May 2002. Back

97   HL Paper 187. Back

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