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European Parliament moves to update Schengen border control

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, with BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – As territories of the so-called Islamic State continue to dwindle in Syria and Iraq, EU member-states are only too aware of the danger of violent extremists carrying out revenge attacks on European soil. Members of the Schengen visa-free region are particularly vulnerable, given that once terrorists penetrate the region’s external borders, they can travel with little hindrance to any point within the Schengen area. But terrorism is hardly the EU’s only concern. Migrants from Asia and Africa continue striving to reach Union shores. Although their numbers are greatly reduced from 2015, the EU’s border agency Frontex says that in September 2017 alone, there were nearly 14 000 detections of illegal border crossings on the four migratory routes into the EU. For the year to date, the agency counts some 156,000 illegal border crossings. New EU initiatives are in the pipeline to…

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Impact of EU’s forthcoming defence fund riddled with unknowns

By BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – The rhetoric of EU and national leaders kow-tows incessantly to the vitality and importance of SMEs – small and medium sized enterprises – for Europe’s economic innovation and job-creating potential. Yet successful innovative SMEs in the EU that soar to become giants on the world stage are few and far between. There are a couple of Skype-type exceptions, but too many of Europe’s “garage” inventors who have a good idea, particularly in the digital field, head for the greener pastures of the USA where bureaucratic obstacles are lower, returns higher and venture capitalists more willing to take risks than their European counterparts. This points directly to the EU’s forthcoming European Defence Fund (EDF) and how it will generate high-tech results within the framework of PESCO, the permanent structured cooperation in defence that 23 EU member states (and counting) will set in motion in 2018. Such projects will necessarily have to draw in dual-use innovations from the commercial realm. A critical acid test for the defence fund will be to what extent it enables SMEs with interesting dual-use products in one PESCO country to...