Earlier today Frans Timmermans , who up-to-date readers will know is Juncker’s ‘Right-Hand-Man’, tweeted the following:
Gov’ts (sic) used to say to public “trust me”; public now says “show me”. We at @EU_Commission want to show: we’ll be transparent about meetings.
to which I responded:
Transparency: does that mean full minutes published of all EU Council mtngs & EU Commission mtngs?
in response to which, as one might expect, only silence has resulted.
I raise this (bear with me) as an interesting article has appeared on EUobserver about European Commission long-term plans to create an entirely new EU boarder (sic) guard service with an independent command and control centre.
The article to which I link states that: while details are scant, a EU source said setting up such a supra-national border agency that goes beyond the remit of the current EU border agency Frontex would be twenty years in the making. It continues that: a commission financed feasibility study completed over the summer has put forward a three-phase approach in creating the so-called European System of Border Guards.
Each successive phase (a summary of said phases is contained in the EUobserver article) is a step forward in centralising control and surveillance of the EU’s borders to an agency manned by EU personnel, which is independent from the respective national authorities.
The EUobserver article also states that Member States, in a June council meeting, had backed the idea of having an EU-wide border guard system to enhance border controls and surveillance. Presuming I have located the pertinent EU Council Conclusions (those of 27/28 June) they actually state: in the context of the long-term development of Frontex, the possibility of setting up a European system of border guards to enhance the control and surveillance capabilities at our external borders should be studied (page 4).
As a matter of record, where the EUobserver article quotes the remarks of EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos speaking about the creation of a European System of Border Guards in the speech delivered at the European Security Forum 2014, the text of what was said can be seen here.
Currently the UK has an opt-out of the Schengen Area, yet attention is drawn to the words of the EU Council Conclusions quoted above: at our external borders should be studied. With both the Conservative and Labour Parties intent on opting back into aspects of the European Arrest Warrant, the question has to be asked: just when would they decide to opt back in to some aspects of a EU-wide border guard service?
To return to the aspect of ‘transparency’ with which I began this article, Frans Timmermans is obviously all for it – as is David Cameron. Did he not, in the Foreward to the Coalition Programme for Government, write:
And we are both committed to turning old thinking on its head and developing new approaches to government. For years, politicians could argue that because they held all the information, they needed more power. But today, technological innovation has – with astonishing speed – developed the opportunity to spread information and decentralise power in a way
we have never seen before. So we will extend transparency to every area of public life. (emphasis mine)
After every European Council meeting, a Prime Minister has to give a report to the House of Commons on that meeting, informing the House of what was discussed. While the UK is not part of Schengen, should his report to the House on the 30th June not have contained the fact that the possibility of setting up a European system of border guards was to be studied?
So much for extending transparency to every area of public life.