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, Reuters reported.
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.
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EU officials said full establishment would take longer but that the elements of the plan could go into effect in a couple of months.
The rush to set up a force, to be drawn mostly from seconded national personnel and designed to intervene rapidly where the EU's external border may be overwhelmed, comes after 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.