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Parliamentary question - E-012537/2013(ASW)Parliamentary question

Joint answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission
Written questions :E-012929/13 , E-012538/13 , E-012537/13

Member States have a responsibility to manage their external borders. Border surveillance is carried out using stationary or mobile units and it may be carried out using technical means. While the Schengen Borders Code[1] provides that surveillance must be carried out in a way which prevents and discourages persons from circumventing the checks at border crossing points, the specific measures at the external borders are adopted by Member States.

While recognising that the use of a fence, reinforced by barbed wire or other installations, as a border surveillance measure is not prohibited by EC law, the Commission does not promote such use; the Commission encourages Member States to use alternative measures for border surveillance based on risk analysis, cooperation and information exchange, as exemplified by the European Border Surveillance System.

Any border surveillance measure must be proportionate to the objectives pursued and it must respect fundamental rights and the principle of non-refoulement. The Commission is aware of the particular situation in Melilla and Ceuta, and the pressure of irregular migration at these external borders. In this context, it takes note of the choice made by Spanish authorities to opt for a fence equipped with barbed wire to discourage unauthorised border crossings.

The Commission was not notified by Spain about the re-installation of barbed wire on the fence at Melilla; Member States have no obligation to notify the Commission of the infrastructure at their external borders. For this reason the Commission cannot neither confirm nor exclude the use of barbed wire by other Member States at their external borders.

OJ C 230, 17/07/2014