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European Parliaments adopts Commission proposal for stronger EU border management agency
The European Parliament yesterday adopted the European Commission's proposal to strengthen the European Union's border management agency (Frontex). Frontex will have more equipment and personnel from Member States at its disposal, thus enabling it to better coordinate the border patrol operations of EU Member States.
"Travel flows are increasing and security threats need to be addressed in the most effective manner. The EU needs to commit to continuous improvements and be ready to adapt to new challenges and an ever changing reality, while fully respecting the rights of people fleeing war and persecution and looking to Europe for protection," said Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs. "Against this backdrop, the amended Regulation contains important changes that will strengthen safeguards so as to guarantee the full respect of fundamental rights and improve the ability of Frontex to support Member States more efficiently and more independently. The Commission therefore welcomes the European Parliament's support for a stronger and more efficient Frontex."
Even though Frontex proved to be very useful in providing a framework for Member States to cooperate with each other when faced with particular pressures on their external borders, operational cooperation could still be improved.
Thanks to these new powers, Frontex will be deploying European Border Guard Teams in the near future. These teams will consist of national border guards assigned or seconded by Member States.
More technical resources will be at the Agency's disposal, and it will now have the ability to acquire or lease its own technical equipment such as vessels or helicopters for border surveillance.
Frontex will also be able to strengthen its cooperation with third countries and will have the possibility to provide them with technical assistance.
The respect of fundamental rights and obligations under various international law instruments received specific attention in the proposal. A Fundamental Rights Officer will, for instance, assist in matters having implications for fundamental rights and a Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights will be created also involving relevant international organisations and NGOs.
With these changes the Frontex agency will be better prepared to face the challenges at the external borders of the Union together with Member States.
Frontex was established to coordinate and facilitate the management of the external borders of the Union.
The Agency became fully operational on 3 October 2005 and is based in Warsaw (Poland). Its primary responsibility is to coordinate operational cooperation between Member States (joint border operations and pilot projects) and to maintain a centralised record of technical equipment that Member States are ready to place at the disposal of other Member States.
Its other activities include developing a common integrated risk analysis model, establishing the common EU training standards for border guards and following developments in research relevant to control and surveillance of external borders.
Following its launch, evaluations carried out by the Commission and Frontex itself have shown that, if Frontex is to coordinate border control operations more efficiently, particularly in the Mediterranean, and support the increased use of joint return flights, it needs to have more resources at its disposal. Indeed, EU governments called on the Commission to propose improvements to Frontex, as part of the Stockholm Programme, at the European Council of 10-11 December 2009 (see MEMO/08/84). This call was reiterated by the conclusions of the European Council in June 2011 (IP/11/781).
To heed this call, the proposed revision of the Frontex regulation seeks to clarify the mandate and enhance the role of Frontex by:
Ensuring the availability of technical equipment for joint operations
Ensuring the availability of qualified border guards for joint operations
Ensuring efficient coordination, implementation and evaluation of joint operations
Ensuring efficient cooperation between Frontex and third countries on border management
Improving the efficiency of joint return operations
Improving the evaluation of the performance of Member States in the area of border management.
Following the Parliament’s adoption of it's position at first reading, the Council will have to formally adopt the regulation.
For more information
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX):