Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has launched a pool of experts who will support the return of migrants across the EU. The experts drawn from member states and Schengen associated countries will be at the disposal of Frontex. The creation of the pool is part of agency’s expanded mandate.
The return pool will ultimately consist of 690 return monitors, return escorts and return specialists. Its size was based on past return operations, risk analysis and return activities foreseen for this year.
“Our ability to draw on a pool of qualified return officers and experts will help increase efficiency and provide already overstretched national authorities with much needed support. This is particularly important in Greece and Italy, which received record numbers of migrants last year,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
In December, Frontex issued the first call for voluntary contribution to the new pool. In the first round of responses Frontex received replies from member states with contributions that met 57 % of the pool’s needs.
Return specialists will support identification of irregular migrants and acquisition of travel documents, including cooperation with consular authorities of countries of origin of returnees. Return escorts will support national escort officers during return operations coordinated by Frontex. Return monitors will carry out independent monitoring of return operations to ensure compliance with fundamental rights. All the experts will be able to identify persons in need of protection and refer them to the competent national authorities. The return pool will also include specialists in the protection of children’s rights. The profiles of return experts have been developed by Frontex in cooperation with the national authorities and the European Commission.
All members of the pool will be fully trained before their deployment to ensure uniformly high standards in all their activities. The training curriculum for the return experts has already been developed.
In 2016, Frontex coordinated the return of 10 700 migrants in 232 return operations. The agency also assisted Greece in the readmission of 908 people to Turkey.
Individual return decisions are issued by the judicial or administrative authorities (depending on the country) of the individual European countries and only those authorities can decide who should be returned.