It’s Not Frontex, It’s Us: Towards a More Honest EU Borders Debate
Roderick Parkes (Polish Institute of International Affairs)
We can hear the European Parliament and the Commission often complaining about how the positive changes are attributed to the workings of national governments while failures become a responsibility of the EU. In the case of the management of external borders, however, the EU institutions behave similarly in relation to FRONTEX – European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the EU – which was established in 2004 with the aim of improving trust and cooperation between governments in the area of border control. Instead, FRONTEX have become an instrument of guilt shoveled between Member States and the EU institutions.
First, the battle of “relinquishing control” came. In response to the Lampedusa crisis, the Commissioner for Home Affairs called on Frontex to launch an extensive operation for which the Agency has the mandate or the resources. The same applies to the MEP for whom Frontex has served as a means of avoiding responsibility. The second battle can be called “how to get control back” – national governments refuse to admit that they now share sovereignty and must work intensively on border management. The agency, which was established with the aim of “Europeanizing” of the national border systems, now faces the opposite trend – an attempt to get them back under national control. The third trend can be seen as “escaping the control” – the creation of a central agency with very limited powers has a different effect than intended. The Member States are seen as just applying the rules because of the orders coming from the central authority. Former sense of mutual responsibility has disappeared and has been replaced by free-riding, unilateralism and dangerous brinkmanship.
Although Poland does not have to face the pressure of immigration, the Polish Institute of International Relations urges Warsaw to take the initiative to change the current status quo. The EU is able to cope with large volumes of legal migration as well as with the liberal border regime of the Eastern neighbors, which works for the interest of Poland. However, the EU, with Frontex as a scapegoat of Member States and the EU institutions, is not able to take on the responsibility just yet. Creating a proper EU-wide border system requires a reform containing a consensual agreement between the Council, the European Council and Parliament on the meaning of Frontex, it strength and autonomy. The EU also needs to resurrect the team spirit as it did in areas other than border control.
(The study can be uploaded here:
Foreign Policy and External Actions: An “Unsurpassable Horizon” for the European Union?
Yves Bertoncini (Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute)
The External Action Service of the European Union (EEAS) was established by the Maastricht Treaty, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of its entry into force this year. On this occasion, Yves Bertoncini in his article recalls the countless cases of European diplomatic indifference, from Iraq to Mali, and gives space to those who claim that the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in essence does not exist. According to Bertoncini, this situation also has its bright side since it helps the Europeans to realize that in a world, in which the EU becomes weaker in comparison with other powers, a similar ‚institution‘ is really needed.
Bertoncini underlines that the European Union’s common foreign policy may not exist, but it is certainly not missing some of its components – for example the tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, anti-dumping policy or development and humanitarian assistance after the EU enlargement process. However, in other areas they fail: a case in point is the EU’s inability to exercise its power and influence to negotiate and implement the European climate and energy policy.
According to the author, for a successful international cooperation, collaboration among a smaller number of interested member states is essential. In the limited scope, roots of such a cooperation are evident in some important events in the diplomatic and military areas: the establishment of Eurocorps, the mechanism of sharing of military operations ATHENA, the European Society for Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) or the de facto Anglo-French cooperation in Libya.
However, there will soon be no European country in the G8, while in the G20 they are already in the minority. The US is dedicated to Asia and Russia is increasingly assertive. Europe is not well armed, nor does it have a common foreign policy, and the long lasting debt crisis threatens to cut the spending on its foreign operations and defense spending. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated summit of the European Council on CFSP in December 2013 did not seem to have met the expectations of many policy-makers and scholars in that it would play an important role in the definition of the EU’s role in the international arena.
(The study can be uploaded here: http://www.notre-europe.eu/media/pdf.php?file=foreignpolicyexternalactionsbertoninine-jdinov2013.pdf)
EU Enlargement to the Balkans: Shaken, not Stirred
Corina Stratulat (European Policy Centre)
Ten years after the Thessaloniki Declaration, which offered the Balkan countries the prospect of EU membership, the motor of integration is losing its momentum in this region. Public opinion towards the Balkans has cooled down, while politicians from the old Member States sometimes even openly oppose it.
The current status of the Balkans is far from a disaster, but unfortunately far from a success either. All Balkan countries face the same challenges: implementing the rule of law, independence of judiciary system, fight against corruption and organized crime, etc. Different states have attempted to reform in these areas with different speed and strategies – and with different results – but a credible and sustainable success remains uncertain. Low economic growth, rising unemployment, with European investment and remittances drying out – but this is the story that also the EU Member States may be familiar with. In the case of the Balkans, they also point out the need for macroeconomic and structural reforms. According to the European Commission, none of these states is a functioning market economy. Also the recent history of conflict in the region is far from being overcome, which is also yet another factor preventing regional cooperation and reconciliation.
The Balkan states are divided into two groups according to their ability to implement European requirements regarding the rule of law, ethnic issues, etc. The first group is led by Montenegro, Serbia and Albania. Then there are the „other” states – Bosnia and Herzegovina (due to persistent political discrimination against minorities), Kosovo (backward Balkan country), and FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – endless dispute with the Greeks about the name Macedonia). According to the author, it is inadequate to divide these states in such a way, as those of the second group feel “underprivileged”, which can lead them in the direction away from the EU. Instead of tentative pledges of membership in the Union, the Commission should find a way to encourage all states to systematically work towards rightful membership.
EU Member States should be more interested in expanding the Union. In recent years, the majority of them have addressed urgent economic problems, so Britain and Germany took the lead and have supported some privileged candidates, rather than the region as a whole. Rather than using only the language of economic development and the rule of law, the Commission should try to speak directly to the people in the Balkans about specific priorities that are relevant to their lives, whose impact can be monitored by civil society. The success of the Balkans is also the success of the EU itself – and the same applies to its utter failure. The sooner the Member States understand this fact, the better – for both sides.
(The study can be uploaded here: