Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: none

European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions & Answers: the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Kapitan Andreevo, 6 October 2016

What is the European Border and Coast Guard?

In December 2015, the European Commission proposed the establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard – designed to meet the new challenges and political realities faced by the EU, with regards to both migration and internal security. The European Border and Coast Guard was agreed by the European Parliament and Council in a record time of just 9 months and will start its activities today.

The European Border and Coast Guard combines the resources of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, built from Frontex, and the Member States’ authorities responsible for border management. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will ensure the effective application of strong common border management standards and provide operational support and intervention where necessary to promptly respond to emerging crises at the external borders.

With the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the mandate of Frontex (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the EU) is significantly strengthened in the fields of external border management and return.  

The main tasks of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency are to:

  • monitor migratory flows and carry out risk analysis;

  • monitor the management of the external borders of the EU;

  • provide operational and technical assistance to Member States;

  • support search and rescue operations;

  • play an enhanced role in returns of third-country nationals who do not have the right to stay on the EU territory;

  • support – together with other EU agencies – national authorities of the Member States carrying out coast guard functions.

What will be the Agency's role in the European Integrated Border Management?

The activities of the Agency as regards monitoring and crisis prevention, reaction to situations requiring urgent action, support for return operations in cooperation with third countries and processing of personal data are significantly enhanced.

Carrying out an integrated border management means going beyond checks and patrols at the external sea and land borders. It also includes measures in and with third countries, and responsibilities such as the return of third country nationals irregularly staying in the EU to their countries of origin and search and rescue in the context of maritime border surveillance operations. Effective border management also requires robust and regular risk analysis, improved inter-agency cooperation and the use of state-of-the-art technology, all of which elements are, for the first time, part of the Agency's expanded mandate.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be a centre of expertise, providing practical support to national border guard authorities, and will act as a guarantor that the system will perform effectively.

How will the new European Border and Coast Guard help secure Europe's borders?

Since 2005, the role of Frontex has been to promote, coordinate and develop integrated border management. However, up till now, Frontex had only been granted a limited role in supporting Member States to manage their external borders. The migratory crisis has shown that the limitations of Frontex – limited resources in terms of staff and equipment, limited right to initiate and carry out return or border management operations and the absence of an explicit role to conduct search and rescue operations – have hindered its ability to effectively address exceptional situations such as significant increases in migratory pressure at the external borders.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be able to assist Member States more effectively in dealing with challenges at their external borders. The enhanced Agency will reinforce Member States' capacities at the external borders through joint operations and rapid border interventions. Its strengthened mandate now includes monitoring and coordination responsibilities, as well as the possibility to intervene in urgent situations either at the request of a Member State or on the basis of a Council decision when a Member State is unable or unwilling to act. When such urgent interventions are needed, the Agency will be able to draw on rapid reaction pools of experts, composed of at least 1,500 border guards, and technical equipment placed at its disposal by the Member States and available for immediate deployment. The role of the Agency to contribute to search and rescue operations is also being significantly strengthened.

Over the next months, the new Agency will be fully rolled out:

  • 6 OCTOBER 2016: new Agency is legally operational

  • 18-19 OCTOBER: adoption of methodology for vulnerability assessment by the Agency's management board

  • 7 DECEMBER 2016:rapid reaction pool and the rapid reaction equipment pool become operational

  • BY DECEMBER 2016: 50 new recruitments in the Agency

  • 7 JANUARY 2017:return pools become operational

  • JANUARY-MARCH 2017: first vulnerability assessments.

How will mandatory vulnerability assessments be carried out?

On a regular basis, generally once a year, at the request of the Agency, Member States will provide information on their capacities and readiness to carry out border control at their external borders. These capacities should include the availability of staff, technical equipment and, to the extent possible, financial resources, the capacities of the Member States to deal with possible large numbers of arrivals of migrants at their borders as well as their contingency plans on border management. The information received by the liaison officers of the Agency posted in the Member States and the information acquired from EUROSUR (the European Border Surveillance System) and the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism will also feed into the vulnerability assessment.

The outcome of these assessments will aim to provide a clear picture of the preparedness of the Member States to face current or upcoming challenges at their external borders as well as the potential subsequent impact on the functioning of the Schengen area. It will also show the capacities of the Member States to contribute to the rapid reaction pool.

Following the vulnerability assessment, the procedure is as follows:

  • As a follow up to the vulnerability assessment, the Agency’s Executive Director might decide to recommend to the assessed Member State a set of measures to address any identified vulnerabilities in the functioning of its national border management system.

  • As a second stage, in case the Member State in question fails to put in place these measures within the time limit set in the recommendation, the issue will be referred to the Agency’s Management Board for a further decision and the Commission will be notified.

  • Thirdly, the Management Board adopts a decision setting out the necessary measures to be taken by the Member State, with a deadline to implement them.

  • As a fourth step, in case the Member State concerned does not implement that decision, the Management Board notifies the Council and the Commission.

  • The Council can, as a final stage and based on a proposal from the Commission, decide on a direct intervention by the Agency, requiring the Member State to cooperate with the Agency in the implementation of the specific measures, aimed at eliminating any risks to the proper functioning of the Schengen area. In exceptional circumstances the Council may take a decision to reintroduce border controls at the internal borders for up to six months.

How will the Council decision for immediate interventions be adopted?

The decision to launch an emergency intervention without having received a prior request from a Member State is taken only as a last resort in cases where a Member State fails to implement the measures recommended by the Executive Director and subsequently those decided by the Management Board. The Council may decide to take such a decision only as a final step in cases when the identified vulnerabilities are of such a scale that the control of the external borders by the Member State concerned is considered to be ineffective to an extent that risks jeopardizing the functioning of the Schengen area.

The Council could adopt such a decision for immediate intervention by the Agency in cases where:

  • a Member State fails to implement the recommendation of the Executive Director and the subsequent decision of the Management Board setting out the necessary measures to be taken by the Member State, with a deadline to implement them;

  • there is such a sharp and disproportionate increase in pressure at the external borders of a Member State that the proper functioning of the Schengen area is put at risk and the Member State has not requested sufficient support from the Agency.

How will the new Coast Guard function?

National coastguards will be a part of the European Border and Coast Guard to the extent that they carry out border control tasks. Frontex has been cooperating with national coast guard organisations in the context of its maritime operations since the very beginning of the Agency's existence and has been working hand-in-hand with other EU agencies, especially the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), to cover the guard functions falling under the respective mandates of these Agencies beyond border management.

The new Regulation provides for improved coordination at national and EU level. The mandates of the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency have been amended accordingly so as to be aligned to the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The three Agencies will be able to launch joint surveillance operations, for instance in the Mediterranean Sea. This will notably improve information on vessels used for irregular migration and cross-border crime which have been detected during maritime surveillance operations aimed at fisheries control or oil spill detection. This pragmatic cross-sectorial cooperation will allow the three Agencies to draw on additional capacities and knowledge in a cost-efficient manner.

What will change regarding the budget and staff of the new Agency?

The Frontex budgets for 2015 and 2016 have been considerably reinforced in order to address the migratory crisis, in particular by tripling the financial resources for joint operations Poseidon and Triton, extending the Agency’s support to the Member States in the area of returns and providing the necessary resources to implement hotspots.

Given the necessity that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency continues with its work in external border management at the same level of intensity, including with regards to its role in search and rescue and in the area of return, the 2016 level is maintained as the basis for the annual EU contribution to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

However, further gradual increase of the Agency’s subsidy is foreseen to cater for new tasks including the acquisition of its own technical capacities from €238 million in 2016 to €281 million in 2017, reaching €322 million in 2020 by when all additional staff will have been recruited.

In order to implement its new tasks the Agency should reach 1,000 staff members by 2020, compared to 417 staff members in 2016.

Where exactly can the Agency intervene?

This Regulation applies to the Schengen EU Member States, the Schengen associated states and those EU Member States which have not yet acceded to the Schengen area, but are bound to do so. The Agency will be able to intervene at the external borders of these States.

Will the Agency have a mandate to work in third countries?

Yes, the Agency will have an enhanced role as regards cooperation with third countries, in particular neighbouring countries and countries of origin and transit for irregular migration. In addition to the existing possibility to deploy liaison officers to third countries and to cooperate with their relevant authorities, the Agency will now have the possibility to carry out operational activities at the external borders involving a Member State and a neighbouring third country, including on the territory of third countries subject to the prior agreement and involvement of the latter and based on a model status agreement to be concluded with them.

How will the rapid reaction pool of European border guards and other relevant staff be composed?

The Agency needs to have at its disposal a sufficient number of well-trained experts with the appropriate profiles as well as the relevant technical equipment. Until now, the contributions of assets and experts have been, in principle, provided by the Member States to Frontex on a voluntary basis. This method of working, in combination with the current migration crisis, has often led to shortages which have prevented Frontex from performing its operational tasks at maximum capacity. The new rules ensure that such deficiencies be avoided and eliminated when urgent situations need to be addressed.

To secure the capacity of the Agency to perform its tasks in responding to emergency situations, a rapid reaction pool of experts will be created as a standing corps put at the disposal of the Agency. The Agency will be able to call on this pool within a very short timeframe in circumstances requiring immediate response. The pool will consist of at least 1,500 border guards to be deployed by the Agency in rapid border interventions within days (for individual Member State contributions see annex).

Under what authority and legal framework will the European Border and Coast Guards act?

During the deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams, the host Member State shall issue instructions to the teams in accordance with the agreed operational plan. Members of the teams shall perform their tasks in respect of EU and international law and fundamental rights obligations, and the national law of the host Member State. As a general rule, the European Border and Coast Guard teams will act only in the presence of host Member State staff. Any disciplinary action against them would be subject to the disciplinary measures of the home Member State.

How will the pool of equipment and the rapid reaction equipment pool work?

The Regulation sets up a technical equipment pool for the Agency. The Agency will be able to acquire alone or in co-ownership with a Member State the technical equipment necessary to carry out its operational activities. The technical equipment pool is composed of equipment owned either by the Member States or by the Agency and equipment co-owned by the Member States and by the Agency for its operational activities.

Based on its needs and in line with its annual work programme, the Agency will define the equipment to be included in the pool. The Member States will have to contribute equipment upon request by the Agency unless it is needed for the management of their own external borders to guarantee that the basic needs of the Agency are covered. The Regulation obliges the Member States to provide to the Agency with the equipment purchased under the Specific Actions of the EU's Internal Security Fund for external borders and visa.

Additionally, to ensure that sufficient technical means are at the Agency’s disposal when needed within a short time period for rapid border interventions or when an urgent situation needs to be addressed, the new Regulation also provides for a rapid reaction equipment pool.

This poolwill consist of a limited number of items of equipment to cover the initial needs for deployment complementing the Agency's own capabilities as well as the equipment financed under the Internal Security Fund Specific Actions obligatorily deployed for rapid border interventions. The contributions by the Member States to the rapid reaction equipment pool will be agreed in the course of the annual bilateral negotiations between the Agency and the Member States.

Who pays for Member States' staff and equipment during joint operations?

Costs arising from the deployment of Member States' staff and equipment for joint operations carried out at the external borders of another Member State are reimbursed in full by the Agency, apart from the basic salary of border guards.

How will the Agency assist with return of irregular migrants?

The Agency will have new tools at its disposal for providing Member States with technical and operational reinforcement to effectively return irregularly staying third country nationals. The Agency will be able to provide additional financing, coordination and organisation for return operations, taking place from one or more Member States, and will support Member States in cooperation with relevant third-country authorities on return. European Return Intervention Teams, composed of escort, monitor and return specialists trained by the Agency and deployed from common European pools, will be available to Member States facing particular pressure. In urgent situations such Teams could be rapidly deployed at the request of a Member State or following the Agency's proposal.

Although the Agency will provide enhanced support, Member States will remain responsible for their return activities, including for decisions on who has the right to asylum and on the issuing of return decisions. The Agency's activities in the field of return will be carried out in strict compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Protocol 4 to the European Convention of Human Rights. All return operations organised with the support of the Agency will be monitored by independent observers. The rights and obligations of migrants are always assessed and determined individually, including against the risk of non-refoulement.

How will the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency ensure respect for fundamental rights?

Given the stronger role and enhanced operational tasks of the Agency, the new Regulation establishes a number of fundamental rights safeguards for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. These include the need to have a Fundamental Rights Strategy, the establishment of a Consultative Forum on fundamental rights and a complaint mechanism by which any person who considers himself or herself to have been the subject of a breach of fundamental rights during activities carried out by the Agency, or any third party intervener, may file a complaint to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

A dedicated Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO) in the Agency has the tasks of contributing to the Agency's fundamental rights strategy, of monitoring its compliance with fundamental rights and of promoting its respect of fundamental rights. The FRO will receive complaints in a structured manner and refer these to the Executive Director and the Member States concerned. Member States will be required to provide information on the outcome and follow up the complaint. This administrative process will be without prejudice to any judicial remedies.

Moreover, in cases of violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations which are of a serious nature or are likely to persist, the Executive Director of the Agency would be able to decide not only on the suspension or termination of the operational activities led by the Agency, but also on the withdrawal of financial support for the operation in question.

Will the Agency be able to process personal data?

The Agency will be able to process personal data for the purpose of organising and coordinating operational activities under its remit, including return operations, risk analysis and for transmission to the competent national authorities or Union Agencies, such as EASO, Europol and Eurojust of personal data collected during joint operations, pilot projects, rapid border interventions regarding persons suspected of involvement in criminal activities, such as migrant smuggling, terrorism or trafficking in human beings.

Guest Officers deployed by the Agency will also be able to consult European databases provided that such consultation is necessary for fulfilling their tasks assign to them in the operational plan.

ANNEX:

Number of border guards and other relevant staff to be provided by each Member State totalling the minimum number of 1,500, according to Article 20(5)

Austria

34

Belgium

30

Bulgaria

40

Croatia

65

Cyprus

8

Czech Republic

20

Denmark

29

Estonia

18

Finland

30

France

170

Germany

225

Greece

50

Hungary

65

Italy

125

Latvia

30

Lithuania

39

Luxembourg

8

Malta

6

The Netherlands

50

Poland

100

Portugal

47

Romania

75

Slovakia

35

Slovenia

35

Spain

111

Sweden

17

Liechtenstein

*

Norway

20

Iceland

2

Switzerland

16

Total

1500

For more information

Press release: Launch of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency

FACTSHEET: The new European Border and Coast Guard Agency

FACTSHEET: EU operations in the Mediterranean Sea

Regulation establishing a European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Securing Europe's Borders: European Commission website

European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) website

MEMO/16/3308

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


Side Bar