One of the core elements of the new Regulation is that the Agency is now also tasked to carry out vulnerability assessments on Member States’ capacity to manage their borders. Vulnerability assessments help to contribute to an efficient, high and uniform level of border control at the external borders of the EU. They enable to identify and subsequently propose measures to eliminate any eventual weaknesses and thus serve also the purpose of preventing crisis at the EU external borders.
According to the Regulation, the Agency should monitor and assess the availability of the Member States’ technical equipment, systems, capabilities, resources, infrastructure and adequately skilled and trained staff necessary for border control. The scope of the vulnerability assessment is broad and allows for potential vulnerabilities to be identified in a wide range of areas related to border management capacities.
The methodology, which Frontex has established in close consultation with Member States and the Commission, is based on four overarching principles. Firstly, it provides for the engagement of Member States to ensure ownership of the results and consistent application. Secondly, vulnerabilities are assessed by – on a continuous basis - taking into account, apart from the available technical and human resources capacity, the type and level of threats to which Member States are exposed and their impact. As the methodology is founded on (regularly changing) EU risks, this principle also allows for a clear distinction from the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism. Thirdly, it adopts a future-oriented approach so that the implementation of recommendations can prevent the development of crises. Finally, it does not seek to establish a mere checklist of available capacities but focuses on the analysis of data collected from a wide range of sources, so that the actual mobilisation of these capacities can be assessed.
The vulnerability assessment methodology is structured around one single overall process resulting in annual baseline assessments. These assessments are complemented with specific assessments stimulated by the identification of upcoming challenges, the monitoring of the situation along the external borders and the assessment of Member States’ contributions to the rapid reaction pool.