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Warsaw, 21 March 2017
First of all let me take this opportunity to thank Fabrice Leggeri for his hospitality and, of course, for the excellent work he has accomplished together with his great team.
As you know, the ongoing migratory challenge has kept all of us: Member States, Commission, EU Agencies on our toes in the last two years.
It even put in jeopardy the very existence of Schengen – one of the greatest achievements in the history of the European Union.
It became clear that the Schengen area without internal borders is only sustainable if the external borders are effectively secured and protected.
Also, the terrorist attacks committed in recent years on EU soil – and we remember the most recent one in Brussels exactly one year ago, tomorrow -are an added concern for our citizens.
This unprecedented situation called for urgent action.
In December 2015, the Commission put forward a proposal to create a new and improved European Border and Coast Guard, building on the excellent work of Frontex.
The new FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard, became the symbol of Europe's quick and efficient response to the current challenges.
We now jointly protect and manage Europe's external borders in the spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility, where the external border of one Member States is approached and managed as the external border of ALL Member States.
Apart from the newly acquired tasks and tools of the Agency such as the vulnerability assessments, the rapid reaction pools, and the complaints mechanism – the budget and staff evolution speaks for itself.
In 2006 the total budget of Frontex was 19.2 million EUR with a total number of 26 posts.
Today, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has at its disposal over 300 million EUR and a manpower of 640 people.
By 2020, the Agency will have a budget of 340 million EUR and over 1000 staff at its disposal.
So, as you can see, the Commission is taking this priority very seriously.
The "White Paper on the future of Europe" presented by the Commission envisages five possible scenarios for Europe by 2025.
Two of them foresee that the European Border and Coast Guard takes over fully the management of the EU's external borders.
This year we celebrate 60 years of the Rome Treaty. Two years ago we celebrated 30 years of Schengen and 10 years of Frontex.
We should never take for granted what we have achieved.
We have to remain ambitious for the future A future where the challenges of migration, of extremism, of radicalisation and of terrorist threats will only become more global, more transnational.
Our response cannot stop at national borders. This is why the work of the European Boarder and Coast Guard is an essential building block for our European efforts to tackle these challenges.
There are still some gaps in completing the operationalization of the Agency – but we are following every step of the effort to fill them, and I am confident that we will soon talk about 100% operationalization.
I am also pleased that this new Agency will (continue to) have its main seat in Poland.
The agreement, signed together with the Polish government just a few days ago, defines the legal status of the Agency and its employees in Poland and opens the way for building its new headquarters in Warsaw on land provided by the Polish government.
The signing of the headquarters agreement underscores the importance and necessity of Member States, EU institutions and agencies cooperating closely together and offering European solutions to European challenges.
The work of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be a daily reminder of this cooperation.
Thank you for your attention!