: Reuters: E.U. aims for joint European coast guard by summer

13:22 Apr. 22, 2016

Reuters: E.U. aims for joint European coast guard by summer

A Turkish coast guard officer use binoculars as they patrol hours after they have apprehended migrants on the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, near Dikili, Turkey, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo)

Nearly 1.3 million people sought asylum in the EU last year, with almost 1 million coming to Greece and most of the rest to Italy

EU governments agreed on Thursday to speed the formation of a common European border and coastguard that could be in service by this summer to control migrants arriving from the Middle East and Africa.

Interior ministers from the 28 member states gave a mandate to their Dutch chairman at a meeting in Luxembourg to open talks with the European Parliament as soon as possible.

Read also Refugees block Greece-Macedonia border crossing to protest deportation

The Dutch minister, Klaas Dijkhoff, said the force, based on the EU's Frontex agency with more powers and more resources, should be operational this summer. European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said he hoped the European Border and Coast Guard would be working by mid-June.

EU officials said full establishment would take longer but that elements of the plan could go into effect in a couple of months.

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