Key Facts

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, supports EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries in the management of EU’s external borders and fighting cross-border crime.

The agency is a centre of excellence for border control activities at the EU’s external borders, sharing intelligence and expertise with all EU Member States, as well as neighbouring non-EU countries affected by migratory trends and cross-border crime.

Among its many tasks, the agency coordinates the deployment of border and coast guards, along with boats, airplanes, patrol cars and other equipment, to EU countries facing exceptional pressure at their external borders.

There are nearly 700 employees from 29 countries working currently for Frontex. By 2021 we plan to employ 1 000 staff in headquarters in Warsaw, about 250 additional staff responsible for the management of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), and up to 750 members of the European standing corps  who will be mostly deployed in Frontex operations.

The agency carries out annual evaluations of the capacity and readiness of each Member State and Schengen Associated Country to face challenges at its external borders, including migratory pressure.

In practice, these annual assessments allow the agency to create an EU-wide overview of available border control means and capacities, and thus identify potential weaknesses in countries’ abilities to handle increased migratory pressure at their borders.

The vulnerability assessment is an important part of the agency’s mission to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons within the Schengen Area.

The rapid reaction pool consists of at least 1 500 border guards and other relevant staff from Member States placed at the disposal of the agency, which will be able to deploy them at short notice in Rapid Border Interventions and within the framework of the migration management support teams.

The agency supports the cooperation of law enforcement authorities, EU agencies and customs at maritime borders. 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 multi-purpose operations, vessels and aircraft deployed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency cooperate with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to spot sea pollution and other possible violations of maritime conventions. Alongside the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Frontex collects and shares information to be used to detect illegal fishing.

The agency can process personal data of persons suspected of involvement in criminal activities, such as migrant smuggling, terrorism or trafficking in human beings. Officers deployed by the agency can also collect and process personal data of persons crossing external borders irregularly, licence plate numbers, vehicle identification numbers, telephone numbers or ship identification numbers necessary for the analysis of routes and methods used for cross-border crime.
Frontex started with a budget of EUR 6 mln in 2005, receiving then EUR 19 mln in 2006 and EUR 118 mln in 2011. The budget decreased in 2012 to a level of EUR 85 mln, but steadily grew to EUR 142 mln in 2015; EUR 254 mln in 2016; EUR 302 mln in 2017 and finally EUR 320 mln in 2018.

Once the annual budget of Frontex is endorsed by its Management Board, it is presented to the European Commission and must be approved by the European Parliament. Frontex is legally obliged to report to the European Parliament about each year’s activities and expenses. In addition, every year the European Court of Auditors performs an audit on the accounts to ensure financial transparency. Based on this annual report, the European Parliament will — on a recommendation by the Council of Ministers — decide whether or not to accept that year’s accounts. This is the final stage of the budgetary cycle and is how accountability is safeguarded.
Frontex does not have its own border guards. Instead, the agency relies on contributions from Member States, who send specialised border guards to different operational areas. More information about the types of border guard profiles the agency deploys is available here. Similarly, Frontex relies on vessels, aircraft and other assets provided by various EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries. The agency also has the possibility to lease or acquire equipment by itself or together with a Member State.
Yes. Frontex works closely with other EU partners such as European agencies Europol, European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Eurojust, Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), EU-Lisa, European Maritime Agency (EMSA), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), the European Police College (CEPOL) and many others.

Frontex also works closely with a variety of international organisations and bodies, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), ICMPD and others.

See here for the full list of our EU partners and for the list of international organisations with whom Frontex has signed working arrangements.

Frontex also cooperates with a number of organisations and NGOs which are part of its Consultative Forum – more information is available here.

Frontex was created in 2004. The mandate of the agency has been expanded in 2016, when it became Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. For more information, go here.

Frontex is one of over 30 European agencies specialising in a variety of different areas. These agencies are based in almost all countries of the EU. Some countries host more than one agency on its territory. Frontex was founded in 2004, the year Poland joined the EU as one of its 10 new members. At the time, Poland did not host any European agency. The seat of the agency was decided unanimously by the European Council. Since the role of Frontex is that of a coordinator, the location of its HQ is practically irrelevant as its operations take place at all external borders – land, sea and numerous international airports in Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria to mention just a few. It should be noted that that operations are not the only area of activity of the agency – Frontex also deals with research and development, risk analysis, developing training curricula for border guards across the EU, and sharing of information about the situation at the external borders between border authorities across Europe.
Article 7 of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation provides that “the Agency shall be accountable to the European Parliament and to the Council in accordance with [that] Regulation”. This means that the Agency reports on its activities to the European Parliament and the Council in accordance with that Regulation, and that the two institutions are actively involved in the Agency’s work, exercising supervision. For example, the Agency’s Management Board is obliged to share Frontex’ annual activity report and annual/multiannual work programs with the European Parliament and the Council, who may choose to invite the executive director to report on his tasks and any matter related to the activities of the Agency. Furthermore, both institutions exercise financial supervision over the Agency’s budget and are informed about any substantial additional financial needs/requirement of staff due to a border situation. Another example could be the obligation of Frontex to inform the European Parliament of working arrangements concluded with Union institutions, bodies, offices, agencies and international organizations. The Agency is also obliged to inform the European Parliament before working arrangements are concluded with authorities of third countries. Moreover, as defined in the founding Regulation of Frontex, the Agency submits to the European Parliament and the Council general risk analyses and, at least once a year, transmits the results of the vulnerability assessment. Frontex is also accountable to national border guard authorities sitting on the Agency’s Management Board.
Frontex’s Management Board is composed of representatives of the heads of the border agencies of all the EU Member States that are signatories of the Schengen acquis. The Management Board also includes representatives from the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as two members of the European Commission. Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (countries which are not EU member states, but which are associated with the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis) also participate in the Management Board of the Agency. Each of them sends one representative to the Management Board but has limited voting rights. Meetings of the Management Board are convened by its Chair and are held at least five times a year.
No. It is important to underline that Frontex is a ‘practitioner body‘. This means that although the Agency is embedded within the EU, it does not come up with EU policy. This is in the hands of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
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