FAQ

Some of the key Frontex operations include Joint Operation Themis (Italy), Joint Operation Poseidon Sea (Greece), Operations Indalo and Minerva (Spain), Western Balkans (Albania, Montenegro) and activities in Bulgaria and Hungary.


All operations coordinated by Frontex are intelligence-driven. They are based on a detailed risk analysis of the situation at the external borders, migratory trends, situation in the countries of origin and transit, methods used by people-smuggling networks, strengths and vulnerabilities of border control at the specific points of the external EU borders. A detailed operational plan is devised in consultation with an EU country that is either currently facing migratory flows or is likely to in the future. The operational plan includes the number and the type of technical equipment, such as vessels, planes or patrol cars, as well as the number and the specialisation of border guards to be deployed – these can include, according to the needs, forged document experts, border surveillance officers, debriefing officers and screeners. Frontex then sends out a call for participation to all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries in order to fill out the required deployment needs. Once all the equipment prescribed in the operational plan is provided, a Joint Operation is launched.

It should be noted that all the deployed officers work under the command and control of the authorities of the country hosting the operation. In practice this means that an officer from the host country is always present aboard every vessel, aircraft or patrol car deployed by Frontex.

An operation may be launched by the agency upon a request from a Member State facing challenges at its external border. The agency’s Executive Director can also recommend a joint operation or rapid border intervention to a Member State based on the results of the vulnerability assessment.


In situations requiring increased operational assistance, the agency can carry out operations on the territory of a non-EU country.

This is however only possible once a Status Agreement has been concluded between the European Union and the respective non-EU country. Frontex does not take part in the negotiations of the Status Agreements with non-EU countries, but is in charge of their operationalisation.



Frontex deploys vessels, aircraft, patrol cars, heartbeat detectors, and other equipment, to operational areas, depending on the needs of the host Member State. The deployment levels depend on the level of migratory pressure in the area.

In its operations, the agency has mainly been using vessels, aircraft, vehicles and other technical equipment that belong to EU Member States. In 2019 the agency started developing its own pool of equipment and bought its own patrol cars that are used in various field deployments at Europe’s borders. Other heavy equipment such as planes and remotely piloted aircraft for air surveillance is leased by the agency to support EU Member States in border control.





Frontex deploys an average of 1200 border and coast guard officers to European Union’s external borders at a time. They include crews of vessels, border surveillance officers, document experts, identification and registration officers, and others. For more information about the officers working in our operations, see here.




Yes. Frontex standing corps officers also work at airports in the European Union and in non-EU countries where Frontex has its activities. They support national authorities with border control and detecting cross-border crime, including document fraud. They also assist countries in identifying potential victims of trafficking in human beings and referring them to relevant national authorities..


Frontex is playing an increasingly important role in returning people who are not entitled to remain in the European Union to their home countries. The agency helps Member States in coordinating and financing return operations, but can also launch them on its own initiative.  For this purpose, Frontex can charter flights and book seats on commercial flights. The agency also helps with obtaining the necessary travel documents for the returnees and providing experts to assist with the return operations.


Frontex operations are increasingly multipurpose. This means that boats and planes deployed in its operations also collect and share information relevant to fisheries control, detection of pollution and compliance with maritime regulations in cooperation with relevant EU agencies.

Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance provides a new way to monitor Europe’s external borders and share this information in real time, allowing for instant reactions by Frontex and national authorities to events such as rescue operations and suspected cross-border criminal activities.
MAS uses surveillance planes that stream video and other data from the Central Mediterranean directly to the Frontex Situation Centre (FSC) at the agency’s headquarters in Warsaw, along with relevant national and European authorities. 


Yes. Frontex has a network of liaison officers in non-EU countries to strengthen the cooperation and information exchange. For more information, see here.


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