The European Commission and the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have signed an agreement to send EU border guards to the Western Balkan nation in the wake of the landlocked country becoming an official candidate EU Member State.
Following the same template as was used for Albania, the European Commission said the agreement will allow teams from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to be deployed to Macedonia/FYROM’s borders and allow local and EU border patrol units to perform joint operations.
The European Commissioner in charge of Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos congratulated FYROM on the development saying it is an important operational step forward in terms of on-the-ground cooperation between Brussels and the government in Skopje.
Avramopoulos added that Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina could also see EU border units deployed alongside their own forces as negotiations have reached an advanced level.
“We need to continue working together and enhance our cooperation as well as to strengthening our information sharing mechanisms. All of this is needed to address irregular migration and challenges related to internal security.”
The decision comes after a June 19 meeting that Avramopoulos organised with the Western Balkans ministers of internal affairs to facilitate better cooperation and avoid a future migration crisis. The Commissioner added that further cooperation is needed in the areas of security and fight against international terrorism, and arms trafficking.
“More than ever before, now is the time to seize the opportunity for the EU and Western Balkans to come even closer, based on our common values, principles, and history,” added Avramopoulos. “Our future can only be shared and European. Only when we’re united can we address the challenges ahead”.
The draft status agreement with Macedonia/FYROM will be formally signed at a later date after both sides complete the necessary legal procedures. The European Parliament’s consent to the agreement is also required and once the agreement is activated, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be able to carry out operational activities and deploy teams in regions that border the EU.