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Frontex 3: A Baby Institution with Super Powers

November 26, 2010

A brief research on what Frontex mandate includes today exposes an organisation, which in five years of existence, has astonishingly grown from marginal into a giant at the heart of migration and security policy as well as European external relations.

Frontex’s field of operations covers an extended patrol network throughout the whole southern naval flank of the EU and beyond, from the shores of Mauritania and Senegal in north western Africa to river Evros. Frontex itself does not today own technical assets for border control nor does it have its own crew to navigate them: both are made available by individual member States on voluntary basis. The equipment used for joint operations is listed in the Centralized Record of Available Technical Equipment (CRATE) which the Member States make available for the needs of a joint operation upon request of Frontex for limited period of time. Similarly, the Member States provide experts according to the operation’s needs.

The agency is also actively assisting MS in the training of national border guards, including the establishment of common training standards. For this task it has developed a network of Partnership Academies (Frontex Partnership Schools) in nine Member States. (Iasi – Romania. Cesena – Italy. Traiskirchen – Austria, Espoo / Imatra – Finland, Gatwick / Dover – United Kingdom, Apeldoorn – The Netherlands, Vilnious and Medininkai – Lithuania, Bratislava – Slovakia, Luebeck – Germany. These training centres host Frontex-organised training courses focused on small groups (of 10 to 20 participants) as well as training development conferences.

FRONTEX co-operates with detention centres and police stations, establishes contacts with third country embassies that are issuing travel documents for persons to be returned. It also works as an information sharing platform between countries. “If there is an agreement between Sweden and Nigeria for the return of 30 people, Frontex spreads the info to other countries, asking if they have people to return there and if they want to join the flight” Michal Parzyszek, spokesman of Frontex clarified for …. “By the end of June this year 26 such flights took place returning approximately 1330 persons”. (To: Nigeria, Kosovo –Kosovo Albanians- Cambodia, Georgia, Armenia, Ecuador, Colombia, Burundi and Iraq). This is a significant increase in repatriation flights since last year when Frontex, according to its information, coordinated 30 flights in total.

Some days ago Frontex has funded and organised its own first charter flight to deport undocumented aliens. According to ‘Le Monde’ on 28 September, “in a deliberately low-key operation,” 56 Georgian migrants arrested in Poland, France, Austria and Germany were flown from Warsaw to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. In 2011, Frontex, which has been granted a budget of 676 million euros for the period 2008-2013, plans to organise and finance between 30 and 40 charters to repatriate migrants who have illegally entered the EU.

Still all this seems moderate in front of the super powers offered to Frontex by an amendment of regulation No.2007/2004 that established the agency, which is finalised these days in the European institutions.

The new regulation No 2010/0039, which …. has read, revolutionises the militarisation of border surveillance and migration control by giving Frontex the capacity to:

– Collect and process personal data of suspects for involvement in illicit border activities

– Deploy liaison officers in third countries

– Initiate itself joint operations and pilot projects in co-operation with MS

– Acquire or lease itself equipment for border surveillance

– Increase its human and financial resources

– Evaluate MS on border management

– Integrate common core curricula in the training of national border guards

– Formalise a code of contact for returns, to be applied in every case

– Take on direct responsibility for returns after request of a MS

– Develop and operate an information system capable of exchanging classified information

Last but not least, it is article 2 paragraph 3, that appears as an insignificant detail, predicting an ‘increasing role on research and development for the control and surveillance of external borders’ that promotes the agency into a key player between the European institutional apparatus and the emerging European homeland security industry.

A.F.

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