France, Germany back border plan

European Union heavyweights France and Germany on Thursday backed a potentially divisive plan for a border guard agency with powers to unilaterally deploy to member states unable or unwilling to manage their borders.

The project is chiefly aimed at protecting Europe's external borders amid the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict or poverty. But the idea that the agency could send ships, planes or other assets to a country even if it opposes the deployment is reviving old fears about a loss of national sovereignty to unelected E.U. officials.

"I'm entirely in agreement with the proposal from the European Commission on a border guard," French President Francois Hollande said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also underlined that she "very strongly supports" the plan.

The proposal is just the start of a potentially long and divisive legislative process. Still, the E.U. has planned a 2016 budget for the agency of 238 million euros ($260 million).

Associated Press