As of December 4th, 2019, Frontex —the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has been granted additional responsibilities. The agency has also received new means to more efficiently assist EU countries and Schengen member nations in controlling their external borders.
The newly enforced European Border and Coast Guard regulation paves the way for the foundation of Europe’s first uniformed service.
Frontex will provide 10.000 officers to assist national authorities with border control and migration management to provide improved security for European residents.
Frontex cooperation with national authorities
Up until this regulation came into effect, Frontex responded to crisis management situations by joining forces with national border and coast guard authorities whenever the need arose. However, the new standing corps and Frontex equipment will now allow close daily cooperation to guarantee sustainable border management.
In a recent press release by Frontex, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri stated, “Our operational aim is to have well-functioning external borders ensuring trust in our European Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice”.
Frontex will also cooperate with national authorities in their efforts to plan the European Union’s and the Schengen Area’s response to challenges at its external borders rather than only reacting in times of crisis.
Secure external Schengen and EU borders
Frontex’s purpose of providing more secure external borders will be accomplished by strengthening Europe’s ability to respond at its borders. In practice, this will be achieved by sharing relevant information and routine risk analyses.
By sharing data and reports, the agency will aid in the prediction of future challenges EU countries may face at their borders. This, in turn, will allow Frontex to adequately support national authorities and help them respond accordingly.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency currently maintains a comprehensive overview of European border control and migration management through its 24/7 border monitoring.
The new Frontex standing corps will be able to propose and provide EU and Schengen countries with the reinforcements and additional equipment they require according to the agency’s annual border risk assessments.
In addition, Frontex will be responsible for the implementation of unified rules and standards in regards to the integrated management of Europe’s borders (IBM). This, in turn, will allow national authorities with which Frontex is collaborating to strengthen their ability to protect Europe’s borders.
Another service the agency will provide in order to ensure well-functioning borders will be supporting the reintegration of returnees in non-EU countries.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will further strengthen its role in fighting cross-border crime both on land, in the air and at sea.
Furthermore, the agency will continue to assist national authorities in the task of effectively returning individuals who are not eligible to remain in the European Union in all stages of the process (travellers who have overstayed their ETIAS, Schengen visa, or need to be deported for other reasons).
The Frontex press release also touches on the subject of the agency’s commitment to the respect of fundamental human rights. Under the newly approved regulation, the agency will hold 40 fundamental rights monitors within its operations.
Frontex’s role in the ETIAS and the EES
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will also play a significant role in the management of the growing numbers of legitimate travellers across the European Union’s external borders.
This will be achieved, in part, by hosting the future central unit of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) as well as by supporting Member States with the deployment of the Entry-Exit-System (EES).
From 2022 onwards, the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe will be a mandatory requirement for nationals from 60 countries in order to travel visa-free. Once an ETIAS holder arrives in the Schengen Area, they will have to present border authorities their machine-readable passport in order to gain entry into their first country of arrival.
Border authorities will then scan the traveller’s passport to verify whether the individual carries a valid travel authorisation and proceed to register their arrival into the EES.
If, on the contrary, the visitor does not have an approved ETIAS, or, they if they do not comply with any other of the Schengen Area’s entry requirements and there are grounds to refuse their entry into the territory, the border guard will register this rejection in the EES as well.
Foreign nationals planning to visit Europe should stay up to date with the necessary travel requirements and make sure they carry the necessary documents in order to be allowed to enter the Schengen Area. Furthermore, visitors from eligible countries arriving in any member nation starting from 2022, should apply for an ETIAS before their trip.