Frontex to step up resources to address migratory and security challenges

On 11 February 2019, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard, received a green light from the Civil Liberties and Home Affairs Committee to better address migratory and security challenges. The committee also approved a mandate to start informal talks with the Council, which still requires plenary’s green light. Before the negotiations can start, the Council has to complete its now partial general approach.

On 12 September 2018, the Commission proposed an updated mandate for the European Border and Coast Guard, with the aim of further improving the control of the EU's external borders.

The proposal, tabled on December 3, aims to strengthen Frontex in terms of staff and equipment in order to provide further support to Member States, including by setting up a European Border and Coast Guard standing corps of 10000 operational staff with executive powers. It also incorporates the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) into the Frontex framework, in order to improve its functioning.

Some of the EU’s measures to safeguard Europe’s security include:

  • a new European Border and Coast Guard agency
  • an upgraded Schengen information system
  • systematic checks against relevant databases on all persons crossing the external borders
  • a new entry-exit system for non-EU nationals
  • the European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS)
  • new rules to make EU databases more interoperable

Civil Protection Mechanism: rescEU to be in force by the summer

The European Parliament announced on February 12 that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism will be upgraded with the introduction of rescEU. This mechanism was conceived with the aim of assisting under capacitated Member States in the occasion of unpredictable disasters, by responding faster in times of dire need.

The proposal includes a number of new provisions that will help Member States boost existing capacities and contribute more to the European Civil Protection Pool such as: co-financing 75% to upgrade their national capacities, co-financing the costs incurred for the deployment of assets, the implementation of the European Union Civil Protection Network, The Commission will work with Member States to ensure that investments undertaken with Structural Funds are "disaster proof". This means that they will have to take into account the risk assessments that Member States provide.

According to the press release from the Parliament, “the law also sets up, upon Parliament’s request, a “RescEU” reserve of resources, such as forest fire-fighting planes, high-capacity pumps, field hospitals and emergency medical teams, for use in all kinds of emergencies.” Additionally, MEPs also succeeded in strengthening the European Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network, allowing all disaster response actors to stay up-to-date and to speak "the same technical language".

The Union Civil Protection Mechanism ('the Union Mechanism') governed by Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and the Council strengthens cooperation between the Union and the Member States and facilitates coordination in the field of civil protection in order to improve the Union's response to natural and man-made disasters.

The budgetary impact of rescEU is estimated at an additional €280 million for the remaining Multiannual Financial Framework period (2018-2020).

Political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act strengthens ENISA’s competences

Closing the year 2018, on December 10, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission reached a political agreement under the Cybersecurity Act, reinforcing the mandate and competences of ENISA, the European Union Agency for Network and Information and Security.

The political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act will also create a framework for European Cybersecurity Certificates for products, processes and services that will be valid throughout the EU.

The new regulation still needs to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU before being published in the EU Official Journal. Once it’s published, it will officially enter into force immediately.

The Cybersecurity Act was proposed as part of the Cybersecurity package, proposed by the Commission and adopted on 13 September 2017 as one of the main priorities of the Digital Single Market strategy.