The Parliamentary Assembly has expressed its concern about the lack of clarity regarding the respective responsibilities of European Union states and the European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) and the absence of adequate guarantees for the respect of fundamental rights and international standards in the framework of joint operations co-ordinated by that agency.
While the responsibility for the control of external borders of the Member States of the European Union lies with the Member States, Frontex strengthens since 2005 border security by ensuring the coordination of Member States’ actions in the implementation of European Union measures relating to the management of the external borders. Frontex also helps Member States detecting the criminal networks behind the smuggling and trafficking of human beings.
Several Frontex operations are currently on-going (joint operations Poseidon and Hermes) and Frontex has deployed Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABITs) to the Greek-Turkish border. Following the Arab revolutions, and as a result of a raise in arrivals of mixed migration flows to Europe’s southern shores, the joint operation Hermes started in February 2011 with the deployment of additional aerial and maritime assets from Italy and Malta. Also since its inception in 2006 as a purely sea-based operation patrolling the coastal waters between Greece and Turkey, the joint Operation Poseidon has grown to become the focus of Frontex’s operational deployment in the Mediterranean region. Since the beginning of 2010, it also has a land-based component covering the Greek and Bulgarian land borders with Turkey.
While Frontex’s aims are legitimate, and more coordination is certainly needed, the Assembly should look into the way Frontex operates, as well as into the respective responsibilities of and the co-operation between national and Frontex teams in the field.