This week at the Agency


It has been an eventful week at Frontex, which will have a significant impact on the agency’s long-term cooperation with various partners, as well as matters related to transparency and protection of fundamental rights. The agency’s representatives went on a tour across Europe to attend a series of high-level meetings.

Monday: JHA Council and launch of Support Hub in Moldova

The Czech EU Presidency invited EU home affairs ministers, the European Commission, the European Parliament, JHA agencies, but also Ukrainian and Moldovan ministers to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on security and cross-border crime, EU external borders’ management and challenges related to migration. Frontex Executive Director a.i. Aija Kalnaja briefed the Council on the agency’s response to the crisis and how Frontex jointly with other agencies and Member States is tackling arising challenges and threats.

The ministers agreed on the need for close cooperation with Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities and that the EU Member States, Ukraine and Moldova should systematically exchange data on the investigations of human trafficking, document forgery, money laundering, arms trafficking, and other types of crime as well as on hybrid threats related to the war in Ukraine. Europol, Frontex, and Eurojust should play an important role in sharing information with Ukraine and Moldova.

On the margins of the Council, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, Moldovan Interior Minister Ana Revenco and Frontex Executive Director a.i. Aija Kalnaja took part in the launch of the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova.

A Frontex officer deployed to the Hub in Chişinău will coordinate with the Moldovan authorities the support that Frontex provides in border management and detection of cross-border crime, especially firearms trafficking.

Tuesday: EP hearings

The Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG), established within the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee), met to discuss the conditions under which Frontex operations could be suspended in case of violations of fundamental rights. The FSWG meeting was attended by Executive Director a.i. Aija Kalnaja and Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer Jonas Grimheden.

Executive Director a.i. explained application of article 46 and its implications. She also underlined the cooperation with the Fundamental Rights Officer on the next steps. The Fundamental Rights Officer stressed the constructive cooperation with Frontex staff and management.

The recording of the hearing can be found here.

Wednesday: CONT Committee

Frontex ED ad interim Aija Kalnaja, Chairman of the Management Board Alexander Fritsch and Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs in the European Commission Olivier Onidi participated in a Budgetary Control (CONT) Committee hearing on the recent changes in the management of the agency, following the departure of its previous director, as well as the agency’s reactions to allegations of breaches of fundamental rights.

“It’s a challenge but also an opportunity to move forward now and to restore the reputation of the agency in the eyes of the public. […] The 2019 conditions have been implemented: three Deputy Executive Directors were recruited and are now leading the agency. The Serious Incident Reporting mechanism was adapted and we have now a fully-fledged fundamental rights monitoring system in place. I invite everyone in the house to come to the agency and to the operational theatre to see what our work looks like. We welcome you,” said Kalnaja.

Next week (Wednesday), the CONT Committee will visit Frontex HQ and meet with the executive management, as well as with the Fundamental Rights Officer.

The video of the hearing can be found here.

Wednesday and Thursday: COSI Committee

An informal meeting of the Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) took place in Prague. It was organised by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union and attended by Deputy Executive Director for Information Management Uku Särekanno.

The meeting focused on the impact of the war in Ukraine on the internal security of the EU, and implementation of sanctions against the Russian Federation and Belarus. Other topics discussed included fight against child sexual abuse and cooperation with the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions-­ the EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUAM Ukraine.

The Deputy Executive Director assured that in the past months the EU demonstrated solidarity and commitment to strengthen border management amid an unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis and ensure that those fleeing the war were welcomed with dignity and respect and did not fall prey to organised crime or other kinds of mistreatment.

Friday: Signing of Working Arrangement with EUCAP Sahel Niger 

A Working Arrangement between Frontex and the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Niger was signed in Brussels by Frontex Executive Director ad interim Aija Kalnaja and EUCAP Sahel Niger Head of Mission, Antje Pittelkau.

“I am pleased that Frontex and EUCAP Sahel Niger will now formalise existing cooperation through the conclusion of the Working Arrangement. I very much appreciate the efforts undertaken to strengthen our relations and to increase our cooperation. For Frontex EUCAP Sahel is a priority CSDP Mission, that we aim to develop a structured and long-term cooperation with,” said Director Kalnaja

“We will focus on promoting IBM standards and on developing situations awareness and risk analysis. Within those two overarching areas we will work on combatting cross-border crime, including terrorism and document, and on preventing illegal migration,” said Kalnaja.

The event took place during the official visit of Niger’s Interior Minister to Brussels, in the presence of Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and the Minister of Interior of Niger, Hamadou Adamou Souley, who earlier held a bilateral meeting.

Director Kalnaja said that she was looking forward to successful and long-term cooperation between the two sides.

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