15 Jun 2010

Towards a Common European Border Service?

Sergio Carrera

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What should be the future institutional configurations of the second generation of the EU’s Integrated Border Management strategy for the common external borders? The Stockholm Programme endorsed by the European Council on December 2009 and the European Commission’s action plan implementing it published in April 2010 have brought back to the EU policy agenda the feasibility of setting up a European system of border guards as a long-term policy vision.
This Working Document examines the origins of this proposal and aims at thinking ahead by asserting that any future discussion and study in this context should be refocused by initially addressing two central questions: First, what kind of ‘border guard’ and what kinds of ‘border controls’ does the EU need in light of the current EU acquis on external border crossings and the Schengen Borders Code? Second, what would be the ‘added value’ of any new institutional arrangement at the current stage of European integration? Author Sergio Carrera, CEPS Research Fellow, argues that these questions could presage the establishment of a common European border service aimed at i) guaranteeing a uniform implementation and high-standard application of EU border law and the materialisation of a European approach to external border controls; ii) ensuring the respect of fundamental rights and guarantees in all external border control-related activities; iii) facilitating the (de)politicisation and accountability of external border controls; and iv) addressing issues of solidarity and mutual trust building across the external borders in an enlarged EU.