Veterans for Britain: UK must be vigilant over EU Border and Coast Guard Agency plans

The EU has launched its own Border and Coast Guard Agency, which sees ultimate control of Schengen-zone borders being centralised with EU authorities in Brussels.

The military-style border force and coast guard already has its own assets and today’s announcement means it now has the power to mount operations and detain people against the will of the EU member state in which it is operating.

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, of Veterans for Britain, said the announcement confirms warnings his group made during the referendum and which were repeatedly denied by remain campaigners.

“This is yet another fortunate escape from a further erosion of democratic autonomy,” he said.

“During the referendum, remain politicians tried to deny that porous borders create a threat to the internal security of member states. The announcement today is a clear admission that of course it does, with the words: ‘The European Border and Coast Guard will help to manage migration more effectively and improve the internal security of the European Union.’

“In the referendum, there were also denials that a military-style force would secure borders and that this force could be deployed against the will of member states. These denials were from the same people who attempted to put us into Schengen. We see today that all of our warnings were, of course, true.

“It is worth remembering that the UK would have been committed in various ways to the maritime part of this agency, even though we are outside of the Schengen zone, just like the UK is signed up to Europol and non-border aspects of the Schengen agreement. This border agency would all have been sold to us as a benefit yet removes a nation’s democratic control and places it squarely with EU bodies.”

Major-General Julian Thompson, chairman of Veterans for Britain, said: “The most effective intervention so far in the migration crisis in South Eastern Europe has been by NATO. Ships of the Royal Navy and other NATO members have succeeded in saving lives at sea in a large coordinated effort. 

“What we see with the creation of this agency is the EU using the problems of 2016 and the economic position of Greece to enforce a permanent, centralised federal structure in border control.”

Veterans for Britain has drafted five key considerations for the UK government to consider following the creation of the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency. The UK Government should be encouraged to:

  1. Consider how UK counterparts will liaise with the new agency after UK exit and ensure UK-EU agreements are not entangling and do not lead to an abdication of UK democratic control
  2. Reject any involvement in conjoined central decision-making, operations or command structure
  3. Be alert to measures that the EU might attempt to enforce ahead of the UK’s exit relating to UK territorial waters or interests
  4. Consider how the new EU Border and Coast Guard Agency affects the UK’s role and responsibilities in the Mediterranean as part of NATO operations.
  5. Consider how centralised EU authority over borders affects an independent UK’s maritime and security interests in future including the UK’s diplomatic initiatives in that area.

The UK government should also encourage the EU to use its new agency to halt the increasing number of unauthorised dinghies attempting to cross from France to the UK.

Rear-Admiral Lane-Nott concluded: “If you had told people in the UK 20 years ago that the EU would by 2016 be controlling and coordinating a centralised force to directly defend and police the EU’s borders, it would have been dismissed as unimaginable, a fantasy. Yet despite the denials, here is the EU creating a force to police ‘its’ borders and binding the hands of future member state governments on border policy and control.

“This would have been unwanted in the UK, but with the UK leaving, the EU is free to accelerate its plans to control, centralise and amalgamate.”

ENDS

For more information, please call David Banks at Veterans for Britain 07512 400122

Notes to editors:

  • More information about the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3281_en.htm
  • The EU Border and Coast Guard Agency’s new powers include a right to enforce “mandatory vulnerability assessments” in which EU staff enter member states to analyse the security or borders and produce a list of actions which the member state is obliged to enact.
  • When a Member State is “unable or unwilling to act”, the EU is given the right to claim authority after an EU Council decision. Therefore, if the EU’s own list of instructions are not followed by the member state, the EU can immediately assume authority over the member state’s borders. On this, Rear-Admiral Lane-Nott said: “This is on one hand a worrying contravention of sovereign democratic will and on the other hand creates an incentive to fail to act to secure borders because the cost of such efforts would instead be met by the EU centrally.”
  • The agency’s instructions to member states are not only over security but management, which means there are immediate implications for the UK border at Calais, where the EU could end up managing problems itself and bring such management directly into the UK’s exit negotiations.
  • Although the agency is given power over Schengen borders only, its announcement today states that it will be seeking talks with neighbouring countries and third parties in order to conclude a ‘model status agreement’ that might include joint or operational deployment in the waters or borders of those third countries. Rear-Admiral Lane-Nott said: “The UK must ensure that no such agreement binds the UK into integrated operations and decision making around UK borders is made instead democratically in the UK with the cooperation of neighbouring or EU authorities.”
  • Veterans for Britain notes that the EU’s motivation for overriding the will of member states is stated as being “aimed at eliminating any risks to the proper functioning of the Schengen area”. A central and internal political motivation of the EU, instead of a motivation to save lives on the sea and relieving localised crises.