Tag Archives: Frontex

Area of freedom, security and justice

Area of freedom, security and justice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Area of freedom, security and justice


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon intends to reinforce the establishment of a European common area within which persons move freely and benefit from effective legal protection. The creation of such an area has implications for areas in which European citizens have high expectations, such as immigration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. These issues have a significant cross-border dimension and therefore require effective cooperation at European level.

The Treaty of Lisbon divides the themes related to the area of freedom, security and justice into four fields:

  • policies related to border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Matters relating to criminal judicial cooperation and police cooperation were previously covered by the 3rd pillar of the European Union (EU), governed by intergovernmental cooperation. Under the framework of the 3rd pillar, European institutions did not have any competences and could therefore not adopt regulations or directives. The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this distinction and henceforth enables the EU to intervene in all matters related to the area of freedom, security and justice.


The Treaty of Lisbon attributes new competences to the European institutions, which can henceforth adopt measures with a view to:

  • establishing common management of the EU’s external borders; in particular through the strengthening of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, known as Frontex;
  • creating a common European asylum system; such a system will be based on a uniform European status and common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of asylum;
  • establishing rules, conditions and rights in relation to legal immigration.


The Treaty of Lisbon authorises the European institutions to adopt new measures concerning:

  • the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition: each judicial system must recognise decisions adopted by the judicial systems of the other Member States as valid and applicable;
  • effective access to justice;
  • the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement;
  • the training of the judiciary and judicial staff.


With the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU, the whole of criminal judicial cooperation becomes a field in which the European institutions may legislate.

Specifically, the European institutions may henceforth establish minimum rules concerning the definition and sanctioning of the most serious criminal offences. In addition, the EU may also intervene in the definition of common rules concerning the functioning of criminal procedure, for example with regard to the admissibility of evidence or the rights of individuals.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon intends to strengthen the role of Eurojust in the EU. Eurojust’s mission is to help coordinate investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of Member States. Currently, Eurojust only has the power to make proposals: it can request national authorities to initiate investigations or prosecutions. Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon offers the European institutions the option of extending the missions and powers of Eurojust with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon considers the possible creation of an actual European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. Such an office would have significant powers as it could investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of crimes. In addition, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office would itself be capable of exercising the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of Member States.

Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet establish the European public prosecutor’s office, but merely authorises the Council, acting unanimously, to adopt a regulation in this regard. If the Council does not reach unanimity, then nine Member States, at the least, will have the option of establishing a European public prosecutor’s office between them under the framework of enhanced cooperation.


As with criminal judicial cooperation, police cooperation benefits from the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU. Henceforth, the European institutions will be capable of adopting regulations and directives in this field.

The ordinary legislative procedure is thereby extended to all non-operational aspects of police cooperation. In contrast, operational cooperation will be determined through a special legislative procedure requiring Council unanimity. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also provides for the option of establishing enhanced cooperation if unanimity is not reached by the Council.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the gradual strengthening of the European Police Office (Europol). As with Eurojust, the Treaty of Lisbon henceforth authorises the Council and the Parliament to develop the missions and powers of Europol under the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure. Currently, the role of Europol is limited to facilitating cooperation between the authorities of Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon specifies that new tasks could also include the coordination, organisation and implementation of operational actions.


The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark benefit from special arrangements, which include all the measures adopted under the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice. These three countries have the option of deciding not to participate in the legislative procedures in this field. They will, therefore, not be bound by the adopted measures.

In addition, two types of derogating clause are applied to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark:

  • an “opt-in” clause which enables each of them to participate, on a case by case basis, in the adoption procedure for a measure or the application of a measure already adopted. They will then be bound by this measure in the same way as other Member States;
  • an “opt-out” clause enabling them not to apply a measure at any time.

Reinforcing the management of the EU's southern maritime borders

Reinforcing the management of the EU’s southern maritime borders

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reinforcing the management of the EU’s southern maritime borders


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Reinforcing the management of the EU’s southern maritime borders

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission: Reinforcing the management of the European Union’s maritime borders [COM(2006) 733 final – Not published in the Official Journal]


This Communication sets out the Commission’s main recommendations to improve the management of the southern maritime external borders.

Maximising the capacity of FRONTEX

The Commission recommends that:

  • Regulation (EC) No 377/2004 on the creation of the Immigration Liaison Officers’ Network be amended to give FRONTEX access to the information gathered by liaison officers on a systematic basis and to allow for the participation of FRONTEX in their meetings;
  • the Member States be encouraged to pool technical equipment; FRONTEX should report on a regular basis to the Council and the Commission on achievements in this area.

It also proposes that FRONTEX:

  • examine the possibility of continuous joint control and surveillance operations at the external southern maritime borders, in particular during the period from spring till late autumn 2007, taking into account the risks linked to the re-routing of flows;
  • establish at its headquarters the facilities necessary for real-time coordination between Member States;
  • draw up a working arrangement with relevant international organisations, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

A Coastal Patrol Network

The Commission recommends that:

  • a permanent coastal patrol network be set up at the external southern maritime frontiers, as suggested by the “MEDSEA” feasibility study presented by FRONTEX on 14 July 2006;
  • the management network be entrusted to FRONTEX and it be asked to consider the possibility of setting up several regional command centres at the southern maritime external borders; the main role of these centres (each one covering a specific area: the Canary Islands, the western, central and eastern Mediterranean Sea) would be to carry out daily patrols, but they might also be required to take part in join maritime operations;
  • FRONTEX consider setting up a specialised branch for maritime borders in the region responsible for managing the regional command centres.

A European surveillance system

The Commission suggests that a European Surveillance System for Borders (EUROSUR) be created. EUROSUR could, as a first step, link up the existing national surveillance systems currently in use at the southern maritime external borders. It would then gradually replace the national surveillance systems at land and maritime borders.

Improving the capacity to deal with mixed flows

The Commission proposes that a pool of experts from Member States’ administrations be made available for deployment at short notice to carry out an initial assessment of individual cases at points of arrival, in particular regarding the state of health of immigrants and the identification of persons who may need international protection or who may be returned to their countries of origin or transit. The asylum expert teams that would be established from this pool would assist the requesting Member State on a temporary basis in performing this initial profiling through the provision, in particular, of interpretation services and advice on case handling. They might, if necessary, include officials of relevant international organisations such as the UNHCR.

In the short term, the Commission encourages Member States as well as international organisations to make use of relevant Community funding instruments to launch these teams on a project basis. It proposes that continued thought be given to the role which a possible European support office for all forms of cooperation between Member States relating to the Common European Asylum System might play in the setting up of such teams.

The operational implementation of the international law of the sea

The Commission will publish a study on the international law of the sea analysing the gaps in the international legal framework and identifying the issues that could be further explored. It proposes that:

  • the correct modus operandi for intercepting vessels carrying, or suspected of carrying, illegal immigrants bound for the European Union be more accurately determined; regional agreements could define the right of surveillance and interception of vessels in the territorial waters of relevant countries of origin and transit, smoothing the way for the implementation of joint operations by FRONTEX;
  • the extent of the Member States’ protection obligations flowing from the respect of the principle of non-refoulement in the many different situations where their vessels implement interception or search and rescue measures be examined. It proposes that practical instructions be drawn up to determine the circumstances under which a Member State may be obliged to assume responsibility for the examination of an asylum claim when engaged in joint operations or in operations taking place within the territorial waters of another Member State or on the high seas.

It also stresses the importance of the ratification by the Member States and the African states of the Palermo Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air.

Maximising the use of European Community financial means

The budget of the FRONTEX Agency (EUR 33.98 million earmarked for 2007) will be used to finance joint operations and pilot projects with Member States at the external frontiers, including the establishment of a Coastal Patrol Network, regional command centres and a specialised branch for maritime borders in the region.

The Commission takes the view that an efficient and rapid use of the resources to be provided by the new External Borders Fund (1.82 billion for the period 2007-2013, of which 170 million will be available in 2007) will be essential for the implementation of the measures envisaged. Moreover, a yearly reserve of 10 million will be set aside to allow for the financing of actions by the individual Member States to address weaknesses at strategic border points, as identified by the FRONTEX by means of risk analysis.

With a view to the longer term, in its 7th Framework Programme for research and technological development, the Commission foresees research for improved capabilities in the implementation of an integrated border management system.

Against the background of the preliminary draft budget for 2007, the European Parliament approved a preparatory action in 2007 (15 million, to be confirmed) for “Migration management/solidarity in action” to assist Member States in coping with the influx of illegal immigrants arriving by sea.

Community activities financed by the European Refugee Fund (ERF) may cover the cost of projects relating to the setting-up teams of asylum experts. In addition, ERF III will provide a mechanism allowing Member States facing particular pressure situations to have rapid and easy access to emergency financial assistance from the Fund.


In the last two years, the pressure of illegal immigration faced by Member States has grown. The Communication was drawn up in response to the Council’s request of 5 October 2006 and is geared towards the first part of a two-pronged approach. Initially, operational measures are set out which are designed to combat illegal immigration, protect refugees and set up controls at, and surveillance of, the EU’s external maritime borders. The second part continues and strengthens the dialogue and cooperation with third countries on these operational measures in the context of the Association Agreements, the ENP Action Plans and the Cotonou Agreement.


Rapid border intervention teams

Rapid border intervention teams

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rapid border intervention teams


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Rapid border intervention teams (RABIT)

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 as regards that mechanism and regulating the tasks and powers of guest officers.


After receiving a request from a Member State, the Executive Director of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex) takes the decision on the deployment of one or more rapid border intervention teams as soon as possible and no later than five working days from the date on which the request is received.

An operational plan is then drawn up by Frontex and the requesting Member State that sets out the details of the deployment of one or more teams.

The Executive Director appoints one or more experts from the staff of the Agency to be deployed as liaison officer(s) with the team:

  • to act as an interface between the Agency, on the one hand, and the host Member State and the members of the team, on the other;
  • to monitor the implementation of the operational plan;
  • to send to Frontex an assessment of the impact of the deployment.

For its part, the Member State concerned designates a contact point to liaise between its authorities and Frontex.

Frontex determines the composition of the teams, whose members come from the national reserve, and decides on their deployment. It organises training and exercises relevant for their tasks.

Status and powers of team members

Team members responsible for carrying out monitoring and surveillance activities at the external borders must comply with Community law and the national law of the host Member State. During the mission they are placed under the responsibility of the host Member State. They follow its instructions and take action in the presence of national border guards.

They remain officers of the national border guards of their Member States and, as such, are authorised to carry their service weapons and wear their own uniform. Nevertheless, a blue armband with the insignia of the European Union and Frontex must also be worn to identify them. They may consult the host Member State’s databases and, where necessary, use force.

Where guest officers of teams are operating in a host Member State, the latter is liable for any damage they cause. During team deployment, guest officers are regarded as officials of the host Member State as regards offences committed against them or by them.


This Regulation is in response to a request contained in the conclusions of the European Council in The Hague, which called for the creation of teams of national experts that could provide rapid technical and operational assistance to Member States requesting it. The European Council, in the conclusions of its meeting in Brussels on 15 and 16 December 2005, invited the Commission to bring forward by the spring of 2006 a proposal for the creation of rapid-reaction teams in accordance with the Hague Programme. In response, the Commission presented on 19 July 2006 a draft text amending the Frontex Regulation so as to provide these teams with a legal basis.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 863/2007


OJ L 199, 31.7.2007