The EU plans to treble spending on border defence, as it grapples with the migrant crisis.
We must make sure that this new coastguard will respect human rights... We must make sure that cooperation with third countries will not run against the legitimate interest of member states
More than 300 million euros would be ploughed into a new European Border and Coast Guard by 2020, under plans officially unveiled in Strasbourg.
If governments approve it, the body would replace the existing Frontex agency and have expanded powers.
The new force would have a 15-hundred strong rapid reaction team on standby.
Controversially, it could intervene in a country without its permission.
“Basically, where deficiencies persist and national action is not taken, the Commission, in cooperation with member states, will be able to adopt a decision determining that the situation at a particular section of external borders requires urgent action,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs.
However, EU officials have stressed that national governments would be able to block intervention if a majority of them were against.
It seems Greece needs some reassurance about the proposals.
“We must make sure that this new coastguard will respect human rights,” said Kostas Chrysogonos, a Greek far-left MEP.
“And second we must make sure that cooperation with third countries will not run against the legitimate interest of member states, especially as far as their territorial integrity is concerned.”
Another MEP, from Italy’s governing centre-left, does not think the plans go far enough.
“The position of Italy will, I think, be a positive evaluation of the proposal. I’d say we have everything to gain, if this becomes a problem of the whole of Europe,” said Patrizia Toia.
“But if you only realise ONE piece of an immigration policy, it creates more contradictions than solutions.
“We have to bring together reception, relocation and everything.”
The migration crisis has fuelled demand for more co-ordinated control of Europe’s borders, with the bloc’s security and passport-free area under threat.