Strengthening the EU's external borders

Effective management of the EU's external borders is essential if free movement within the EU is to function well. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency was launched in October 2016, following the European Council's call in September 2015 to strengthen controls at external borders. The adoption of reinforced checks  at external borders is being negotiated, as well as improving controls through the use of new technologies.

European border and coast guard

In October 2016, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency was launched. It will closely monitor the EU's external borders and work together with member states to quickly identify and address any potential security threats to the EU's external borders. 

In December 2016, the agency launched a rapid reaction pool. Made up of 1 500 officers committed by EU member states and Schengen associated countries, it can be deployed within five working days in a crisis situation.

Reinforcement of controls at external borders 

On 7 March 2017, the Council adopted a regulation amending the Schengen borders code to reinforce checks against relevant databases at the external borders. The amendment obliges member states to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on all persons when they cross the external borders.

The checks will also enable member states to verify that those persons do not represent a threat to public policy, internal security or public health. This obligation shall apply at all external borders (air, sea and land borders), both at entry and exit.

Smart management of external borders

On 6 April 2016, the European Commission presented proposals to improve the security of external borders through the use of new technologies. These proposals are currently under discussion at the Council and include:

  •  the establishment of an EU entry-exit system for all non-EU citizens who are admitted for a short stay in the Schengen area, aiming at increasing automation at border-controls and improving detection of document and identity fraud
  •  the creation of a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) in order to gather information regarding visa-exempt travellers prior to their trip

On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council's position for negotiations with the European Parliament.