EU border control set to be bolstered under new law spearheaded by Roberta Metsola

The law has been approved by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, with negotiations with member state governments now to follow

The law is expected to be formally passed before May’s MEP elections
The law is expected to be formally passed before May’s MEP elections

The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has approved a new law which aims to better protect the European Union’s external borders.

The law was the initiative of Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola, and was established through the Metsola Report. It was approved after weeks of negotiations with different political groups, as well as stakeholders in the sector, both in Malta and across Europe.

Metsola will now be leading negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament with the governments of the EU’s member states. The law is expected to be formally passed before May’s MEP elections.

It will see the introduction of 10,000 new border and coast guards, who will have the power to fight cross-border crime and deal with individuals who are not eligible to enter the EU’s borders.

The Metsola report will also give them the technical equipment to stop any possible criminal actions taking place at the external borders.

“Malta’s location at the southern border of the EU makes it vulnerable to challenges such as cross-border crime and irregular migration. Europe has a real-added value in this area. The new law which I saw through the European Parliament will tackle this. In all of this my guiding principle has been to be fair with those in need of protection, firm with those who do not, and harsh with those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable,” Metsola said.

Crucially, the EU’s border agency will also be able to introduce antenna offices in member states, such as Malta, to make it easier for it to run its operations in the respective member states.

“This will mean that challenges faced by Malta could be addressed locally, and not in an office 3,000km away in Warsaw,” said Metsola, who is also the EPP Group Coordinator within the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

The new revamped European Border and Coast Guard will have a budget of €11.3 billion during the upcoming EU budget period between 2021 and 2027.

On behalf of the European Parliament, Metsola will now start the negotiations with the Council on the law.

“Different member states have different challenges, and I know it will not be easy to convince mainland countries to invest in countries at the borders. Complexity is not something I have ever shied away from and I am confident we will be able to convince Member States to put their money where their mouth is and understand that safe external borders means a safer and more secure European Union,” she said.

“Citizens trusted us to deliver results, and I am determined to see this through to benefit not only everyone in Malta and Gozo, but everyone in our Union,” the MEP added.