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Motto: Libertas Securitas Justitia
"Liberty Security Justice"
Paris plan pointer b jms.svg
Seat Warsaw, Poland
Signed October 26, 2004
Established May 1, 2005
Director Ilkka Laitinen

Frontex (from French: Frontières extérieures for ‘external borders’, legally: European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) is the European Union agency for external border security. It is responsible for co-ordinating the activities of the national border guards in ensuring the security of the EU's borders with non-member states. Frontex is headquartered in Warsaw, Poland.

Frontex was established by Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004. The agency started to be operational on October 3, 2005 and was the first EU agency to be based in one of the new EU states - from 2004.



Frontex' mission is to help EU Member States implement EU rules on external border controls and to coordinate operational cooperation between Member States in the field of external border management. While it remains the task of each member state to control its own borders, the Agency is vested with the function to ensure that they all do so with the same high standard of efficiency.

The main tasks of the agency include:

  • coordination of operational cooperation between Member States in the field of management of external borders;
  • assistance to Member States in the training of national border guards
  • carrying out risk analysis;
  • following up the development of research relevant for the control and surveillance of external borders;
  • assistance to Member States in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational assistance at external borders;
  • providing Member States with the necessary support in organising joint return operations.

Staff and Resources

Frontex headquarters in Warsaw

The Agency is managed by its Executive Director, Ilkka Laitinen. The agency initially struggled to recruit staff[1] due to its location in Warsaw, which offered lower pay than some other cities, and the unclear agency mandate.

Aeroplanes 20
Helicopters ~30
Vessels ~100

Special European forces of rapidly deployable border guards were created by EU interior ministers in April 2007 to assist in border control, particularly on Europe's southern coastlines.[2] Frontex's European Patrols Network began work in the Canary Islands in May 2007.[3]


In an NGO Statement on International Protection[4] presented at the UNHCR Standing Committee in 2008 a broad coalition of non-governmental organisations have expressed their concern, that much of the rescue work by Frontex is in fact incidental to a deterrence campaign so broad and, at times, so undiscriminating, that directly and through third countries – intentionally or not – asylum-seekers are being blocked from claiming protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

According to European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and British Refugee Council in written evidence submitted to the UK House of Lords inquiry, Frontex fails to demonstrate adequate consideration of international and European asylum and human rights law including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and EU law in respect of access to asylum and the prohibition of refoulement.[5]

In addition ECRE and British Refugee Council have expressed a worry with the lack of clarity regarding Frontex accountability for ensuring compliance with international and EC legal obligations by Member States involved in Frontex coordinated operations. This is compounded by the lack of transparency, and the absence of independent monitoring and democratic accountability of the Agency.

Turkish Incidents

In September 2009 a Turkish military radar issued a warning to a Latvian helicopter patrolling in the eastern Aegean -- part of the EU's Frontex programme to combat illegal immigration -- to leave the area. Turkish General Staff reported that the Latvian Frontex aircraft had violated Turkish airspace west of Didim[6] According to a Hellenic Air Force announcement, the incident occurred as the Frontex helicopter -- identified as an Italian-made Agusta A109 -- was patrolling in Greek air space near the small isle of Farmakonissi, which lies on a favorite route used by migrant smugglers ferrying mostly Third World migrants into Greece and the EU from the opposite Turkish coastline. [7] Frontex officials stated that they simply ignored the Turkish warnings as they were not in Turkish airspace and continued their duties. Frontex later took photographs of the Turkish Coast Guard escorting illegal immigrants towards Greek waters and the photos accompanied by written evidence were handed in to the EU. [8] Another incident took place on October 2009 in the aerial area above the eastern Aegean sea, off the island of Mytiline. [9]On November 20th 2009 Turkish General Staff issued a press note where it is reported that an Estonian Border Guard aircraft Let L-410UVP taking off from Kos on a Frontex mission had violated Turkish airspace west of Söke.[10]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Staff woes hit EU border agency BBC News
  2. ^ EU agrees rapid reaction anti-immigration units
  3. ^ EU border agency starts sea patrols
  4. ^ "NGO Statement on International Protection: The High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges". UNHCR. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  5. ^ "ECRE/BRC joint response to House of Lords inquiry on Frontex". ECRE. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  6. ^ Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri - Turkish Armed Forces, "Airspace violations in the Aegean".  
  7. ^ "Latest Frontex patrol harassed". Retrieved 2009-09-14.  
  8. ^ "Frontex report implicates Turks". Retrieved 2009-10-14.  
  9. ^ "Newest Frontex patrol harassed". Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  10. ^ Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri - Turkish Armed Forces, "Airspace violations in the Aegean".  


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