A consensus is emerging across Europe that the EU needs a much more effective and coordinated maritime border control policy, enabling national and EU law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies to work more closely in tackling emerging threats and challenges concerning irregular migration. Policymakers stress that more effective border controls and maritime security depend both on new equipment and enhanced operational capabilities, as well as on achieving tighter cooperation and interoperability between maritime players within each nation and in coordination with EU agencies.
For the first time, almost all nations now agree that the maritime environment must become a controlled one, similar to air space. This represents a substantial shift in thinking. Migratory pressures on the southern European border pose a tremendous challenge to European policymakers. So far, the development and strengthening of the EU bordermanagement strategy has been framed at the official level as a key policy priority on the EU agenda.
The EU has managed to construct the first generation of Integrated Border Management (IBM). This includes a common codification of the acquis on internal and external borders, the Schengen Borders Code; the creation of Frontex, an EU agency tasked with coordinating operational cooperation between Member States in the field of border security; and a commonly agreed definition of what IBM means at a European level.
The EU model of border management defines Frontex as the main institutional actor in charge of putting the integrated and global paradigm into practice. Frontex encapsulates the need to have a common European approach and to promote European solidarity in addressing the challenge of irregular migration.