Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, supports EU member states and Schengen Associated Countries in the management of the EU’s external borders and the fight against cross border crime. Frontex is EU’s largest agency, with more than 1, 000 staff in the headquarters, 19 ongoing operations and more than 2,400 Standing Corps officers and technical assets (inclusive vessels, drones and planes) deployed at the external borders and beyond each month.
With the Standing Corps, the European Union’s first uniformed law enforcement service, Frontex has transformed into an operational arm of the EU. The officers perform a variety of tasks such as border surveillance, fighting cross-border crime, and return operations. The officers support and stand together with national authorities to safeguard the Schengen area, one of Europe’s greatest achievements.
The recent threats and challenges at the external borders have tested the European Border and Coast Guard community. The war in Ukraine has transformed Europe. We are witnessing the highest number of illegal border crossings since 2016. With the Standing corps, Frontex can effectively support the member states facing such unexpected challenges at the EU’s external borders by sending the agency’s own officers and technical equipment to the affected border sections within days.
Frontex plays an increasingly important role in returning people not entitled for international protection to their countries of origin. The agency helps member states in coordinating and financing return operations, launches them on its own initiative and organizes voluntary departures. There is an increased focus on improving the rate of effective returns. Therefore, Frontex provides, in addition to return operations, a full range of assistance services in the areas of pre-return and post-return reintegration.
In addition, together with Romania and Bulgaria, and with the support of the European Commission, Frontex is taking part in two pilot projects on intensified border control, swift asylum procedures and immediate returns of persons that are not eligible for asylum. In this sensitive field, the agency makes sure that fundamental rights of people entering Europe are always respected.
In order to increase the performance and efficiency of our Standing Corps, the agency is developing an advanced chain of command, as well as new operational concepts. The first pilot project will start in June in Romania.
Dr. Lars Gerdes, Deputy Executive Director for Operations and Returns at Frontex, is attending the European Police Congress in Berlin on the debate “New EU border management: a common task for the police”.