Vienna – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the body will unveil new proposals in September on ways of protecting the European Union’s external borders.
Juncker said the proposals would involve posting 10,000 border agents from 2020 as the European Union seeks to get to grips with the migrant influx which has created political tensions around the bloc.
“We had initially intended to deploy 10,000 border guards by 2027. We are now bringing this forward to 2020,” Juncker told a press conference in Vienna on July 6 to mark the start of Austria’s tenure of the rotating EU presidency.
Although the number of migrants fleeing war and poverty has fallen sharply since a 2015 peak the issue is a hot potato in Europe and a key topic for the six-month presidency of Austria, where a conservative-far right coalition took power last December.
The Warsaw-based EU border agency Frontex currently only has 600 staff, with EU members assigning extra support in the shape of hundreds of police for operations in Italy and Greece, which along with Spain have continued to bear the brunt of the arrivals.
At last week’s EU summit in Brussels, leaders agreed to increase funding for Frontex and boost its workforce to 1,000 by 2020.
In his Friday address, Juncker did not reveal details of planned funding increases which will need to be found somewhere from within the EU’s budget.
In presenting its budget for 2020-2027 in May, the bloc estimated the total cost of Frontex for the period as topping 20 billion euros ($23.5 billion) compared with a current annual budget of 320 million which has already almost trebled since 2011.