Brussels now sees Macedonia and Serbia as key states to block Migrant route
Thursday, 26 January 2017

European Commission announced on Wednesday that Macedonia and Serbia will be named as priority third countries with the European Border and Coast Guard being able to operate in their territories to stop a renewal of the 2015/2016 migrant crisis. The Commission called on the European Council to open negotiations with Macedonia and Serbia on this matter, as the EBCG becomes fully operational and replaces FRONTEX.

MIA correspondent in Brussels reports that in the few months since it was set up the EBCG has deployed more than 1.550 officers to member states, patrolling the external EU borders, on top of more than 100.000 national border guards. "We have made incredible progress in rolling out the activities of the EBCG. The rapid reaction pools of border guards and equipment are in place now, ensuring that there will no longer be shortages of staff or equipment for emergency situations across the EU. In addition, the new pools of return intervention teams will support member states' efforts to enhance the return of irregular migrants, a core element of our European Agenda on Migration", European Commission Dimitris Avramopoulos said.

In the case of Macedonia, the EBCG is expected to help us protect the southern border with Avramopoulos' native country Greece, through which more than a million migrants crossed in 2015 and 2016. With bilateral support from countries such as Hungary, Austria and Slovakia, Macedonia was able to close the border and build a fence toward Greece, closing the Balkan migrant route. But the process was hampered by lack of information sharing and Greek obstruction of FRONTEX deployment, due to the fact that Macedonia is not an EU member.


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