(Brussels) By 2027, the European Union will have a standing corps of 10,000 border and coast guards. Today, the Council green-lighted the political agreement reached last week to reinforce the Agency which, in addition to 10,000 guards, “will also have a stronger mandate on returns and will cooperate more closely with non-EU countries, including those beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood”, the Commission explained in a statement. The deal, “agreed in the record time of just over 6 months”, represents a “step-change in the EU’s ability to collectively better protect Europe’s external borders”. “In an area of free movement without internal border controls, strengthening and managing Europe’s external borders is a shared responsibility”, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EU Commission, explained. “By working together constructively and swiftly, we can create a safer Europe”. According to Commissioner for Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, “we can only succeed” in “controlling our external borders, fighting irregular migration, carrying out returns and cooperating with third countries” if we work “together”.