Origin & Tasks


Tasks

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter and the concept of Integrated Border Management.

To help identify migratory patterns as well as trends in cross-border criminal activities, Frontex analyses data related to the situation at and beyond EU’s external borders. It monitors the situation at the borders and helps border authorities to share information with Member States. The agency also carries out vulnerability assessments to evaluate the capacity and readiness of each Member State to face challenges at its external borders, including migratory pressure.

Frontex coordinates and organises joint operations and rapid border interventions to assist Member States at the external borders, including in humanitarian emergencies and rescue at sea. The agency deploys European Border and Coast Guard teams, including a pool of at least 1 500 border guards and other relevant staff to be deployed in rapid interventions. The members of the rapid reaction pool must be provided by Member States upon request by the agency. It also deploys vessels, aircraft, vehicles and other technical equipment provided by Member States in its operations. In addition, Frontex may carry out operations on the territory of non-EU countries neighbouring at least one Member State, in case of migratory pressure at a non-EU country’s border.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard, supports Member States with screening, debriefing, identification and fingerprinting of migrants. Officers deployed by the agency refer and provide initial information to people who need, or wish to apply for, international protection, cooperating with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and national authorities. It is the national authorities, not Frontex, who decide which person is entitled to international protection.

The agency assists EU Member States in forced returns of people who have exhausted all legal avenues to legitimise their stay within the EU. This help includes obtaining travel documents for the returnees by working closely with consular authorities of the relevant non-EU countries. It can also organise voluntary departures of nationals of non-EU countries who were issued return decisions by Member State authorities. Frontex also organises return operations on its own initiative and “collecting return operations”, where returnees are returned with escort officers and transportation provided by their countries of origin. It has created several pools of return experts to be deployed in Member States when needed.

Frontex supports the cooperation between law enforcement authorities, EU agencies and customs at sea borders. Vessels and aircraft deployed in its operations also collect and share information relevant to fisheries control, detection of pollution and compliance with maritime regulations. The agency works closely with European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to implement multipurpose operations. In these operations, vessels and aircraft deployed for border surveillance can also be used for fishing and environmental monitoring.

Frontex focuses on preventing smuggling, human trafficking and terrorism as well as many other cross-border crimes. It shares any relevant intelligence gathered during its operations with relevant national authorities and Europol.

The agency is the centre of expertise in the area of border control. It develops training curricula and specialised courses in a variety of areas to guarantee the highest levels of professional knowledge among border guards across Europe. It also supports search and rescue operations that arise during border surveillance operations at sea.


Origin

The ideas that led to the creation of Frontex have a deep history in the European project. Fostering the free movement of people has been an important objective of European integration. In 1957, free movement of goods, persons, services and capital were identified as foundations of the Community in the Treaty of Rome.


Schengen

During the 1980s, five Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) decided to create a common area of free movement – a territory without internal borders. In 1985, they signed the first agreement in a small town in Luxembourg called Schengen – an agreement that was followed in1990 by a Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement.

When the “Schengen area” – a territory in which the free movement of persons - entered into force in 1995, checks at the internal borders were abolished and a single external border was created. Slowly, border control, as well as the rules governing visas and the right to asylum, became common for all Schengen countries.

In order to keep a balance between freedom and security, participating Member States agreed to introduce additional measures focusing on cooperation and coordination of the work of the police and judicial authorities. Because organised crime networks do not respect borders, this cooperation became key to safeguarding internal security.

In 1999, with the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam, this intergovernmental cooperation was incorporated into the EU framework.


Towards Frontex

Since 1999 the European Council on Justice and Home Affairs has taken several steps towards further strengthening cooperation in the area of migration, asylum and security.

In the border management field, this led to the creation of the External Border Practitioners Common Unit - a group composed of members of the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA) and heads of national border control services.

The Common Unit coordinated national projects of Ad-Hoc Centres on Border Control. Their task was to oversee EU-wide pilot projects and to implement common operations related to border management.


Frontex is born

Two years after the establishment of "ad-hoc" centres the European Council decided to go a step further. With the objective of improving procedures and working methods of the Common Unit, Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004 of 26 October 2004 led to the establishment of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex).

This Regulation was repealed by Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of 14 September 2016, establishing Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.


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