Lithuanian Presidency reaches agreement on rules of Frontex sea border operations

16 December 2013, Last updated at, 09:28 EET
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author: AFP/Scanpix

The Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER II) on December 13 in Brussels agreed on the proposed Regulation setting out rules on the external sea borders operations, allowing the Lithuanian Presidency to speedily start the negotiations with the European Parliament. 

“This is a very important step seeking to avoid sea accidents such as the Lampedusa tragedy in October. The European Union is moving to ensure both the security of its external borders and the fundamental human rights. Having received the COREPER mandate, the Presidency will engage in the negotiations already next week, given the urgency and political importance of this issue,” said ambassador Raimundas Karoblis, chair of the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER II).

External border management has been named as early as in 2011 by the Lithuanian Parliament as one of the five major priorities of the Presidency.

The draft Regulation establishing rules on Frontex sea border operations provides for a common approach, in the context of the EU legislation, on issues linked to detection, interception, search and rescue and disembarkation. It complements the relevant provisions of international law and aim at providing a much-needed legal certainty on issues which may emerge in the context of the Frontex-coordinated operations.

The agreement comes after the Task Force Mediterranean, established by the European Commission after the Lampedusa tragedy, invited the Member States to accelerate discussions on the proposed Regulation so that the negotiations with the Parliament would start during the Lithuanian Presidency.

“This draft Regulation is intended to be a decisive step to enhance the results of sea border surveillance operations. It is needless to explain the magnitude of the challenge of effective border management at the sea external borders of the Member States. Effective border management has always been a key policy objective for the European Union and has been an absolute priority for the Lithuanian Presidency,” said ambassador Karoblis.

The proposed Regulation aims at complying with the judgement of the European Court of Justice which in 2012 annulled annulled the Council Decision of 2010 on the same subject matter, and at the same time invited the EU co-legislators to replace it by new rules within a reasonable time to ensure the smooth functioning of the current and future operations coordinated by Frontex. 

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