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Press release
 

Rapid response teams to tackle illegal immigration

Justice and home affairs - 26-04-2007 - 13:10
Plenary sessions
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Parliament on Thursday approved a regulation providing for special rapid response teams to be set up to give technical and operational assistance in the case of major influxes of illegal migrants over the external borders of any EU Member State. This report is the fruit of a first-reading agreement with Council and was adopted in plenary today by 526 votes 63 with 28 abstentions.

Given the difficulties that some southern Member States face in coping with massive arrivals of illegal immigrants by sea, the Council in 2005 asked the European Commission to draft a regulation to set up "Rapid Border Intervention Teams". It stipulated that these teams should pool Member States financial means and human resources to act in emergencies at EU frontiers, but always under the co-ordination of the EU frontier management agency Frontex. The draft regulation would lay down common rules for the tasks that can be carried out by the "guest" border officers of other Member States within Frontex joint operations. In negotiations on the regulation, questions immediately arose over the funding of the teams and the need for all Member States to contribute  financial and human resources.
 
Mandatory solidarity
 
The principle of "mandatory solidarity", under which all Member States must deploy specially-trained border guards at Frontex's request, was included in the agreement with the Council at the instigation of Parliament's rapporteur Gerard Deprez (ALDE, BE).  Rapid intervention teams will be mobilised "for a limited period" and only if the country faces an "urgent and exceptional pressure". The decision as to whether an influx amounts to an "emergency" justifying a request to mobilise an intervention team will by taken by the Director of Frontex.
 
Member State contributions

According to the draft regulation, it will be up to the Frontex Management Board to decide by a three-quarters majority the profiles and the overall number of border guards to be made available by each Member State. EU countries will then be required to contribute border guards corresponding to the required profiles, unless they themselves face "an exceptional situation substantially affecting the discharge of national tasks". 

The salaries of border guards deployed in rapid border intervention teams deployed in a host country will continue to be paid by the countries of origin, but the additional costs of operations (travel expenses, repatriation, insurance, living costs) will be borne by Frontex. To this end, Parliament has boosted the agency's budget by  €10 million for 2007.
 
Tasks and powers
 
Team members may only perform tasks and exercise powers "under the instructions from and, as a general rule, in the presence of border guards of the host Member State", says the draft regulation. A provision inserted by MEPs in the compromise text stresses that the exercise of these powers needs to be proportionate to the objectives and "shall not discriminate against persons on the grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation".
 
 
REF.: 20070420IPR05693