NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights

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    • EU: Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment (19.06.2020)

      The approval of the new #Frontex_Regulation in November 2019 implied an increase of competences, budget and capabilities for the EU’s border agency, which is now equipping itself with increased means to monitor events and developments at the borders and beyond, as well as renewing its IT systems to improve the management of the reams of data to which it will have access.

      In 2020 Frontex’s #budget grew to €420.6 million, an increase of over 34% compared to 2019. The European Commission has proposed that in the next EU budget (formally known as the Multiannual Financial Framework or MFF, covering 2021-27) €11 billion will be made available to the agency, although legal negotiations are ongoing and have hit significant stumbling blocks due to Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and political disagreements.

      Nevertheless, the increase for this year has clearly provided a number of opportunities for Frontex. For instance, it has already agreed contracts worth €28 million for the acquisition of dozens of vehicles equipped with thermal and day cameras, surveillance radar and sensors.

      According to the contract for the provision of Mobile Surveillance Systems, these new tools will be used “for detection, identification and recognising of objects of interest e.g. human beings and/or groups of people, vehicles moving across the border (land and sea), as well as vessels sailing within the coastal areas, and other objects identified as objects of interest”. [1]

      Frontex has also published a call for tenders for Maritime Analysis Tools, worth a total of up to €2.6 million. With this, Frontex seeks to improve access to “big data” for maritime analysis. [2] The objective of deploying these tools is to enhance Frontex’s operational support to EU border, coast guard and law enforcement authorities in “suppressing and preventing, among others, illegal migration and cross-border crime in the maritime domain”.

      Moreover, the system should be capable of delivering analysis and identification of high-risk threats following the collection and storage of “big data”. It is not clear how much human input and monitoring there will be of the identification of risks. The call for tenders says the winning bidder should have been announced in May, but there is no public information on the chosen company so far.

      As part of a 12-month pilot project to examine how maritime analysis tools could “support multipurpose operational response,” Frontex previously engaged the services of the Tel Aviv-based company Windward Ltd, which claims to fuse “maritime data and artificial intelligence… to provide the right insights, with the right context, at the right time.” [3] Windward, whose current chairman is John Browne, the former CEO of the multinational oil company BP, received €783,000 for its work. [4]

      As the agency’s gathering and processing of data increases, it also aims to improve and develop its own internal IT systems, through a two-year project worth €34 million. This will establish a set of “framework contracts”. Through these, each time the agency seeks a new IT service or system, companies selected to participate in the framework contracts will submit bids for the work. [5]

      The agency is also seeking a ’Software Solution for EBCG [European Border and Coast Guard] Team Members to Access to Schengen Information System’, through a contract worth up to €5 million. [6] The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the EU’s largest database, enabling cooperation between authorities working in the fields of police, border control and customs of all the Schengen states (26 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and its legal bases were recently reformed to include new types of alert and categories of data. [7]

      This software will give Frontex officials direct access to certain data within the SIS. Currently, they have to request access via national border guards in the country in which they are operating. This would give complete autonomy to Frontex officials to consult the SIS whilst undertaking operations, shortening the length of the procedure. [8]

      With the legal basis for increasing Frontex’s powers in place, the process to build up its personnel, material and surveillance capacities continues, with significant financial implications.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/june/eu-frontex-splashes-out-millions-of-euros-for-new-technology-and-equipme

      #technologie #équipement #Multiannual_Financial_Framework #MFF #surveillance #Mobile_Surveillance_Systems #Maritime_Analysis_Tools #données #big_data #mer #Windward_Ltd #Israël #John_Browne #BP #complexe_militaro-industriel #Software_Solution_for_EBCG_Team_Members_to_Access_to_Schengen_Information_System #SIS #Schengen_Information_System

    • EU : Guns, guards and guidelines : reinforcement of Frontex runs into problems (26.05.2020)

      An internal report circulated by Frontex to EU government delegations highlights a series of issues in implementing the agency’s new legislation. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency is urging swift action to implement the mandate and is pressing ahead with the recruitment of its new ‘standing corps’. However, there are legal problems with the acquisition, registration, storage and transport of weapons. The agency is also calling for derogations from EU rules on staff disciplinary measures in relation to the use of force; and wants an extended set of privileges and immunities. Furthermore, it is assisting with “voluntary return” despite this activity appearing to fall outside of its legal mandate.

      State-of-play report

      At the end of April 2020, Frontex circulated a report to EU government delegations in the Council outlining the state of play of the implementation of its new Regulation (“EBCG 2.0 Regulation”, in the agency and Commission’s words), especially relating to “current challenges”.[1] Presumably, this refers to the outbreak of a pandemic, though the report also acknowledges challenges created by the legal ambiguities contained in the Regulation itself, in particular with regard to the acquisition of weapons, supervisory and disciplinary mechanisms, legal privileges and immunities and involvement in “voluntary return” operations.

      The path set out in the report is that the “operational autonomy of the agency will gradually increase towards 2027” until it is a “fully-fledged and reliable partner” to EU and Schengen states. It acknowledges the impacts of unforeseen world events on the EU’s forthcoming budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework, MFF) for 2021-27, and hints at the impact this will have on Frontex’s own budget and objectives. Nevertheless, the agency is still determined to “continue increasing the capabilities” of the agency, including its acquisition of new equipment and employment of new staff for its standing corps.

      The main issues covered by the report are: Frontex’s new standing corps of staff, executive powers and the use of force, fundamental rights and data protection, and the integration into Frontex of EUROSUR, the European Border Surveillance System.

      The new standing corps

      Recruitment

      A new standing corps of 10,000 Frontex staff by 2024 is to be, in the words of the agency, its “biggest game changer”.[2] The report notes that the establishment of the standing corps has been heavily affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. According to the report, 7,238 individuals had applied to join the standing corps before the outbreak of the pandemic. 5,482 of these – over 75% – were assessed by the agency as eligible, with a final 304 passing the entire selection process to be on the “reserve lists”.[3]

      Despite interruptions to the recruitment procedure following worldwide lockdown measures, interviews for Category 1 staff – permanent Frontex staff members to be deployed on operations – were resumed via video by the end of April. 80 candidates were shortlisted for the first week, and Frontex aims to interview 1,000 people in total. Despite this adaptation, successful candidates will have to wait for Frontex’s contractor to re-open in order to carry out medical tests, an obligatory requirement for the standing corps.[4]

      In 2020, Frontex joined the European Defence Agency’s Satellite Communications (SatCom) and Communications and Information System (CIS) services in order to ensure ICT support for the standing corps in operation as of 2021.[5] The EDA describes SatCom and CIS as “fundamental for Communication, Command and Control in military operations… [enabling] EU Commanders to connect forces in remote areas with HQs and capitals and to manage the forces missions and tasks”.[6]

      Training

      The basic training programme, endorsed by the management board in October 2019, is designed for Category 1 staff. It includes specific training in interoperability and “harmonisation with member states”. The actual syllabus, content and materials for this basic training were developed by March 2020; Statewatch has made a request for access to these documents, which is currently pending with the Frontex Transparency Office. This process has also been affected by the novel coronavirus, though the report insists that “no delay is foreseen in the availability of the specialised profile related training of the standing corps”.

      Use of force

      The state-of-play-report acknowledges a number of legal ambiguities surrounding some of the more controversial powers outlined in Frontex’s 2019 Regulation, highlighting perhaps that political ambition, rather than serious consideration and assessment, propelled the legislation, overtaking adequate procedure and oversight. The incentive to enact the legislation within a short timeframe is cited as a reason that no impact assessment was carried out on the proposed recast to the agency’s mandate. This draft was rushed through negotiations and approved in an unprecedented six-month period, and the details lost in its wake are now coming to light.

      Article 82 of the 2019 Regulation refers to the use of force and carriage of weapons by Frontex staff, while a supervisory mechanism for the use of force by statutory staff is established by Article 55. This says:

      “On the basis of a proposal from the executive director, the management board shall: (a) establish an appropriate supervisory mechanism to monitor the application of the provisions on use of force by statutory staff, including rules on reporting and specific measures, such as those of a disciplinary nature, with regard to the use of force during deployments”[7]

      The agency’s management board is expected to make a decision about this supervisory mechanism, including specific measures and reporting, by the end of June 2020.

      The state-of-play report posits that the legal terms of Article 55 are inconsistent with the standard rules on administrative enquiries and disciplinary measures concerning EU staff.[8] These outline, inter alia, that a dedicated disciplinary board will be established in each institution including at least one member from outside the institution, that this board must be independent and its proceedings secret. Frontex insists that its staff will be a special case as the “first uniformed service of the EU”, and will therefore require “special arrangements or derogations to the Staff Regulations” to comply with the “totally different nature of tasks and risks associated with their deployments”.[9]

      What is particularly astounding about Frontex demanding special treatment for oversight, particularly on use of force and weapons is that, as the report acknowledges, the agency cannot yet legally store or transport any weapons it acquires.

      Regarding service weapons and “non-lethal equipment”,[10] legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland, where the agency’s headquarters is located. Frontex has applied to the Commission for clarity on how to proceed, says the report. Frontex declined to comment on the status of this consultation and any indications of the next steps the agency will take. A Commission spokesperson stated only that it had recently received the agency’s enquiry and “is analysing the request and the applicable legal framework in the view of replying to the EBCGA”, without expanding further.

      Until Frontex has the legal basis to do so, it cannot launch a tender for firearms and “non-lethal equipment” (which includes batons, pepper spray and handcuffs). However, the report implies the agency is ready to do so as soon as it receives the green light. Technical specifications are currently being finalised for “non-lethal equipment” and Frontex still plans to complete acquisition by the end of the year.

      Privileges and immunities

      The agency is also seeking special treatment with regard to the legal privileges and immunities it and its officials enjoy. Article 96 of the 2019 Regulation outlines the privileges and immunities of Frontex officers, stating:

      “Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU shall apply to the Agency and its statutory staff.” [11]

      However, Frontex notes that the Protocol does not apply to non-EU states, nor does it “offer a full protection, or take into account a need for the inviolability of assets owned by Frontex (service vehicles, vessels, aircraft)”.[12] Frontex is increasingly involved in operations taking place on non-EU territory. For instance, the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states, primarily in the Western Balkans, concerning Frontex activities in those countries. To launch operations under these agreements, Frontex will (or, in the case of Albania, already has) agree on operational plans with each state, under which Frontex staff can use executive powers.[13] The agency therefore seeks an “EU-level status of forces agreement… to account for the partial absence of rules”.

      Law enforcement

      To implement its enhanced functions regarding cross-border crime, Frontex will continue to participate in Europol’s four-year policy cycle addressing “serious international and organised crime”.[14] The agency is also developing a pilot project, “Investigation Support Activities- Cross Border Crime” (ISA-CBC), addressing drug trafficking and terrorism.

      Fundamental rights and data protection

      The ‘EBCG 2.0 Regulation’ requires several changes to fundamental rights measures by the agency, which, aside from some vague “legal analyses” seem to be undergoing development with only internal oversight.

      Firstly, to facilitate adequate independence of the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), special rules have to be established. The FRO was introduced under Frontex’s 2016 Regulation, but has since then been understaffed and underfunded by the agency.[15] The 2019 Regulation obliges the agency to ensure “sufficient and adequate human and financial resources” for the office, as well as 40 fundamental rights monitors.[16] These standing corps staff members will be responsible for monitoring compliance with fundamental rights standards, providing advice and assistance on the agency’s plans and activities, and will visit and evaluate operations, including acting as forced return monitors.[17]

      During negotiations over the proposed Regulation 2.0, MEPs introduced extended powers for the Fundamental Rights Officer themselves. The FRO was previously responsible for contributing to Frontex’s fundamental rights strategy and monitoring its compliance with and promotion of fundamental rights. Now, they will be able to monitor compliance by conducting investigations; offering advice where deemed necessary or upon request of the agency; providing opinions on operational plans, pilot projects and technical assistance; and carrying out on-the-spot visits. The executive director is now obliged to respond “as to how concerns regarding possible violations of fundamental rights… have been addressed,” and the management board “shall ensure that action is taken with regard to recommendations of the fundamental rights officer.” [18] The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation.

      The state-of-play report says that “legal analyses and exchanges” are ongoing, and will inform an eventual management board decision, but no timeline for this is offered. [19] The agency will also need to adapt its much criticised individual complaints mechanism to fit the requirements of the 2019 Regulation; executive director Fabrice Leggeri’s first-draft decision on this process is currently undergoing internal consultations. Even the explicit requirement set out in the 2019 Regulation for an “independent and effective” complaints mechanism,[20] does not meet minimum standards to qualify as an effective remedy, which include institutional independence, accessibility in practice, and capacity to carry out thorough and prompt investigations.[21]

      Frontex has entered into a service level agreement (SLA) with the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) for support in establishing and training the team of fundamental rights monitors introduced by the 2019 Regulation. These monitors are to be statutory staff of the agency and will assess fundamental rights compliance of operational activities, advising, assisting and contributing to “the promotion of fundamental rights”.[22] The scope and objectives for this team were finalised at the end of March this year, and the agency will establish the team by the end of the year. Statewatch has requested clarification as to what is to be included in the team’s scope and objectives, pending with the Frontex Transparency Office.

      Regarding data protection, the agency plans a package of implementing rules (covering issues ranging from the position of data protection officer to the restriction of rights for returnees and restrictions under administrative data processing) to be implemented throughout 2020.[23] The management board will review a first draft of the implementing rules on the data protection officer in the second quarter of 2020.

      Returns

      The European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN) – a network of 15 European states and the Commission facilitating cooperation over return operations “as part of the EU efforts to manage migration” – is to be handed over to Frontex. [24] A handover plan is currently under the final stage of review; it reportedly outlines the scoping of activities and details of “which groups of returnees will be eligible for Frontex assistance in the future”.[25] A request from Statewatch to Frontex for comment on what assistance will be provided by the agency to such returnees was unanswered at the time of publication.

      Since the entry into force of its new mandate, Frontex has also been providing technical assistance for so-called voluntary returns, with the first two such operations carried out on scheduled flights (as opposed to charter flights) in February 2020. A total of 28 people were returned by mid-April, despite the fact that there is no legal clarity over what the definition “voluntary return” actually refers to, as the state-of-play report also explains:

      “The terminology of voluntary return was introduced in the Regulation without providing any definition thereof. This terminology (voluntary departure vs voluntary return) is moreover not in line with the terminology used in the Return Directive (EBCG 2.0 refers to the definition of returns provided for in the Return Directive. The Return Directive, however, does not cover voluntary returns; a voluntary return is not a return within the meaning of the Return Directive). Further elaboration is needed.”[26]

      On top of requiring “further clarification”, if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate. Statewatch has launched an investigation into the agency’s activities relating to voluntary returns, to outline the number of such operations to date, their country of return and country of destination.

      Frontex is currently developing a module dedicated to voluntary returns by charter flight for its FAR (Frontex Application for Returns) platform (part of its return case management system). On top of the technical support delivered by the agency, Frontex also foresees the provision of on-the-ground support from Frontex representatives or a “return counsellor”, who will form part of the dedicated return teams planned for the standing corps from 2021.[27]

      Frontex has updated its return case management system (RECAMAS), an online platform for member state authorities and Frontex to communicate and plan return operations, to manage an increased scope. The state-of-play report implies that this includes detail on post-return activities in a new “post-return module”, indicating that Frontex is acting on commitments to expand its activity in this area. According to the agency’s roadmap on implementing the 2019 Regulation, an action plan on how the agency will provide post-return support to people (Article 48(1), 2019 Regulation) will be written by the third quarter of 2020.[28]

      In its closing paragraph, related to the budgetary impact of COVID-19 regarding return operations, the agency notes that although activities will resume once aerial transportation restrictions are eased, “the agency will not be able to provide what has been initially intended, undermining the concept of the EBCG as a whole”.[29]

      EUROSUR

      The Commission is leading progress on adopting the implementing act for the integration of EUROSUR into Frontex, which will define the implementation of new aerial surveillance,[30] expected by the end of the year.[31] Frontex is discussing new working arrangements with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). The development by Frontex of the surveillance project’s communications network will require significant budgetary investment, as the agency plans to maintain the current system ahead of its planned replacement in 2025.[32] This investment is projected despite the agency’s recognition of the economic impact of Covid-19 on member states, and the consequent adjustments to the MFF 2021-27.

      Summary

      Drafted and published as the world responds to an unprecedented pandemic, the “current challenges” referred to in the report appear, on first read, to refer to the budgetary and staffing implications of global shut down. However, the report maintains throughout that the agency’s determination to expand, in terms of powers as well as staffing, will not be stalled despite delays and budgeting adjustments. Indeed, it is implied more than once that the “current challenges” necessitate more than ever that these powers be assumed. The true challenges, from the agency’s point of view, stem from the fact that its current mandate was rushed through negotiations in six months, leading to legal ambiguities that leave it unable to acquire or transport weapons and in a tricky relationship with the EU protocol on privileges and immunities when operating in third countries. Given the violence that so frequently accompanies border control operations in the EU, it will come as a relief to many that Frontex is having difficulties acquiring its own weaponry. However, it is far from reassuring that the introduction of new measures on fundamental rights and accountability are being carried out internally and remain unavailable for public scrutiny.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Note: this article was updated on 26 May 2020 to include the European Commission’s response to Statewatch’s enquiries.

      It was updated on 1 July with some minor corrections:

      “the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states... under which” replaces “the agency has entered into working agreements with Balkan states, under which”
      “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in any detail in the Regulation beyond monitoring the agency’s ’compliance with fundamental rights, including by conducting investigations’” replaces “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation”
      “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it further exposes the haste with which legislation written to deny entry into the EU and facilitate expulsions was drafted” replaces “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate”

      Endnotes

      [1] Frontex, ‘State of play of the implementation of the EBCG 2.0 Regulation in view of current challenges’, 27 April 2020, contained in Council document 7607/20, LIMITE, 20 April 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/may/eu-council-frontex-ECBG-state-of-play-7607-20.pdf

      [2] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [3] Section 1.1, state of play report

      [4] Jane Kilpatrick, ‘Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards’, Statewatch Analysis, March 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-355-frontex-recruitment-standing-corps.pdf

      [5] Section 7.1, state of play report

      [6] EDA, ‘EU SatCom Market’, https://www.eda.europa.eu/what-we-do/activities/activities-search/eu-satcom-market

      [7] Article 55(5)(a), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex 2019 Regulation), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [8] Pursuant to Annex IX of the EU Staff Regulations, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:01962R0031-20140501

      [9] Chapter III, state of play report

      [10] Section 2.5, state of play report

      [11] Protocol (No 7), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2016.202.01.0001.01.ENG#d1e3363-201-1

      [12] Chapter III, state of play report

      [13] ‘Border externalisation: Agreements on Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro heading for parliamentary approval’, Statewatch News, 11 March 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/frontex-status-agreements.htm

      [14] Europol, ‘EU policy cycle – EMPACT’, https://www.europol.europa.eu/empact

      [15] ‘NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights’, Statewatch News, 5 March 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/fx-consultative-forum-rep.htm; ‘Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations’, Statewatch News, 21 May 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/may/eu-frontex-fr-rep.htm

      [16] Article 110(6), Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [17] Article 110, 2019 Regulation

      [18] Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [19] Section 8, state of play report

      [20] Article 111(1), 2019 Regulation

      [21] Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan, ‘Complaint Mechanisms in Border Management and Expulsion Operations in Europe: Effective Remedies for Victims of Human Rights Violations?’, CEPS, 2018, https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/Complaint%20Mechanisms_A4.pdf

      [22] Article 110(1), 2019 Regulation

      [23] Section 9, state of play report

      [24] ERRIN, https://returnnetwork.eu

      [25] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [26] Chapter III, state of play report

      [27] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [28] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [29] State of play report, p. 19

      [30] Matthias Monroy, ‘Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders’, Statewatch Analysis, February 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-354-frontex-drones.pdf

      [31] Section 4, state of play report

      [32] Section 7.2, state of play report
      Next article >

      Mediterranean: As the fiction of a Libyan search and rescue zone begins to crumble, EU states use the coronavirus pandemic to declare themselves unsafe

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/eu-guns-guards-and-guidelines-reinforcement-of-frontex-runs-into-problem

      #EBCG_2.0_Regulation #European_Defence_Agency’s_Satellite_Communications (#SatCom) #Communications_and_Information_System (#CIS) #immunité #droits_fondamentaux #droits_humains #Fundamental_Rights_Officer (#FRO) #European_Return_and_Reintegration_Network (#ERRIN) #renvois #expulsions #réintégration #Directive_Retour #FAR (#Frontex_Application_for_Returns) #RECAMAS #EUROSUR #European_Aviation_Safety_Agency (#EASA) #European_Organisation_for_the_Safety_of_Air_Navigation (#EUROCONTROL)

    • Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards

      On 4 January 2020 the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) adopted a decision on the profiles of the staff required for the new “standing corps”, which is ultimately supposed to be staffed by 10,000 officials. [1] The decision ushers in a new wave of recruitment for the agency. Applicants will be put through six months of training before deployment, after rigorous medical testing.

      What is the standing corps?

      The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps is the new, and according to Frontex, first ever, EU uniformed service, available “at any time…to support Member States facing challenges at their external borders”.[2] Frontex’s Programming Document for the 2018-2020 period describes the standing corps as the agency’s “biggest game changer”, requiring “an unprecedented scale of staff recruitment”.[3]

      The standing corps will be made up of four categories of Frontex operational staff:

      Frontex statutory staff deployed in operational areas and staff responsible for the functioning of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) Central Unit[4];
      Long-term staff seconded from member states;
      Staff from member states who can be immediately deployed on short-term secondment to Frontex; and

      A reserve of staff from member states for rapid border interventions.

      These border guards will be “trained by the best and equipped with the latest technology has to offer”.[5] As well as wearing EU uniforms, they will be authorised to carry weapons and will have executive powers: they will be able to verify individuals’ identity and nationality and permit or refuse entry into the EU.

      The decision made this January is limited to the definition of profiles and requirements for the operational staff that are to be recruited. The Management Board (MB) will have to adopt a new decision by March this year to set out the numbers of staff needed per profile, the requirements for individuals holding those positions, and the number of staff needed for the following year based on expected operational needs. This process will be repeated annually.[6] The MB can then further specify how many staff each member state should contribute to these profiles, and establish multi-annual plans for member state contributions and recruitment for Frontex statutory staff. Projections for these contributions are made in Annexes II – IV of the 2019 Regulation, though a September Mission Statement by new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urges the recruitment of 10,000 border guards by 2024, indicating that member states might be meeting their contribution commitments much sooner than 2027.[7]

      The standing corps of Frontex staff will have an array of executive powers and responsibilities. As well as being able to verify identity and nationality and refuse or permit entry into the EU, they will be able to consult various EU databases to fulfil operational aims, and may also be authorised by host states to consult national databases. According to the MB Decision, “all members of the Standing Corps are to be able to identify persons in need of international protection and persons in a vulnerable situation, including unaccompanied minors, and refer them to the competent authorities”. Training on international and EU law on fundamental rights and international protection, as well as guidelines on the identification and referral of persons in need of international protection, will be mandatory for all standing corps staff members.

      The size of the standing corps

      The following table, taken from the 2019 Regulation, outlines the ambitions for growth of Frontex’s standing corps. However, as noted, the political ambition is to reach the 10,000 total by 2024.

      –-> voir le tableau sur le site de statewatch!

      Category 2 staff – those on long term secondment from member states – will join Frontex from 2021, according to the 2019 Regulation.[8] It is foreseen that Germany will contribute the most staff, with 61 expected in 2021, increasing year-by-year to 225 by 2027. Other high contributors are France and Italy (170 and 125 by 2027, respectively).

      The lowest contributors will be Iceland (expected to contribute between one and two people a year from 2021 to 2027), Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Liechtenstein is not contributing personnel but will contribute “through proportional financial support”.

      For short-term secondments from member states, projections follow a very similar pattern. Germany will contribute 540 staff in 2021, increasing to 827 in 2027; Italy’s contribution will increase from 300 in 2021 to 458 in 2027; and France’s from 408 in 2021 to 624 in 2027. Most states will be making less than 100 staff available for short-term secondment in 2021.

      What are the profiles?

      The MB Decision outlines 12 profiles to be made available to Frontex, ranging from Border Guard Officer and Crew Member, to Cross Border Crime Detection Officer and Return Specialist. A full list is contained in the Decision.[9] All profiles will be fulfilled by an official of the competent authority of a member state (MS) or Schengen Associated Country (SAC), or by a member of Frontex’s own statutory staff.

      Tasks to be carried out by these officials include:

      border checks and surveillance;
      interviewing, debriefing* and screening arrivals and registering fingerprints;
      supporting the collection, assessment, analysis and distribution of information with EU member and non-member states;
      verifying travel documents;
      escorting individuals being deported on Frontex return operations;
      operating data systems and platforms; and
      offering cultural mediation

      *Debriefing consists of informal interviews with migrants to collect information for risk analyses on irregular migration and other cross-border crime and the profiling of irregular migrants to identify “modus operandi and migration trends used by irregular migrants and facilitators/criminal networks”. Guidelines written by Frontex in 2012 instructed border guards to target vulnerable individuals for “debriefing”, not in order to streamline safeguarding or protection measures, but for intelligence-gathering - “such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences,” said an internal document.[10] It is unknown whether those instructions are still in place.

      Recruitment for the profiles

      Certain profiles are expected to “apply self-safety and security practice”, and to have “the capacity to work under pressure and face emotional events with composure”. Relevant profiles (e.g. crew member) are required to be able to perform search and rescue activities in distress situations at sea borders.

      Frontex published a call for tender on 27 December for the provision of medical services for pre-recruitment examinations, in line with the plan to start recruiting operational staff in early 2020. The documents accompanying the tender reveal additional criteria for officials that will be granted executive powers (Frontex category “A2”) compared to those staff stationed primarily at the agency’s Warsaw headquarters (“A1”). Those criteria come in the form of more stringent medical testing.

      The differences in medical screening for category A1 and A2 staff lie primarily in additional toxicology screening and psychiatric and psychological consultations. [11] The additional psychiatric attention allotted for operational staff “is performed to check the predisposition for people to work in arduous, hazardous conditions, exposed to stress, conflict situations, changing rapidly environment, coping with people being in dramatic, injure or death exposed situations”.[12]

      Both A1 and A2 category provisional recruits will be asked to disclose if they have ever suffered from a sexually transmitted disease or “genital organ disease”, as well as depression, nervous or mental disorders, among a long list of other ailments. As well as disclosing any medication they take, recruits must also state if they are taking oral contraceptives (though there is no question about hormonal contraceptives that are not taken orally). Women are also asked to give the date of their last period on the pre-appointment questionnaire.

      “Never touch yourself with gloves”

      Frontex training materials on forced return operations obtained by Statewatch in 2019 acknowledge the likelihood of psychological stress among staff, among other health risks. (One recommendation contained in the documents is to “never touch yourself with gloves”). Citing “dissonance within the team, long hours with no rest, group dynamic, improvisation and different languages” among factors behind psychological stress, the training materials on medical precautionary measures for deportation escort officers also refer to post-traumatic stress disorder, the lack of an area to retreat to and body clock disruption as exacerbating risks. The document suggests a high likelihood that Frontex return escorts will witness poverty, “agony”, “chaos”, violence, boredom, and will have to deal with vulnerable persons.[13]

      For fundamental rights monitors (officials deployed to monitor fundamental rights compliance during deportations, who can be either Frontex staff or national officials), the training materials obtained by Statewatch focus on the self-control of emotions, rather than emotional care. Strategies recommended include talking to somebody, seeking professional help, and “informing yourself of any other option offered”. The documents suggest that it is an individual’s responsibility to prevent emotional responses to stressful situations having an impact on operations, and to organise their own supervision and professional help. There is no obvious focus on how traumatic responses of Frontex staff could affect those coming into contact with them at an external border or during a deportation. [14]

      The materials obtained by Statewatch also give some indication of the fundamental rights training imparted to those acting as deportation ‘escorts’ and fundamental rights monitors. The intended outcomes for a training session in Athens that took place in March 2019 included “adapt FR [fundamental rights] in a readmission operation (explain it with examples)” and “should be able to describe Non Refoulement principle” (in the document, ‘Session Fundamental rights’ is followed by ‘Session Velcro handcuffs’).[15] The content of the fundamental rights training that will be offered to Frontex’s new recruits is currently unknown.

      Fit for service?

      The agency anticipates that most staff will be recruited from March to June 2020, involving the medical examination of up to 700 applicants in this period. According to Frontex’s website, the agency has already received over 7,000 applications for the 700 new European Border Guard Officer positions.[16] Successful candidates will undergo six months of training before deployment in 2021. Apparently then, the posts are a popular career option, despite the seemingly invasive medical tests (especially for sexually active women). Why, for instance, is it important to Frontex to know about oral hormonal contraception, or about sexually transmitted infections?

      When asked by Statewatch if Frontex provides in-house psychological and emotional support, an agency press officer stated: “When it comes to psychological and emotional support, Frontex is increasing awareness and personal resilience of the officers taking part in our operations through education and training activities.” A ‘Frontex Mental Health Strategy’ from 2018 proposed the establishment of “a network of experts-psychologists” to act as an advisory body, as well as creating “online self-care tools”, a “psychological hot-line”, and a space for peer support with participation of psychologists (according to risk assessment) during operations.[17]

      One year later, Frontex, EASO and Europol jointly produced a brochure for staff deployed on operations, entitled ‘Occupational Health and Safety – Deployment Information’, which offers a series of recommendations to staff, placing the responsibility to “come to the deployment in good mental shape” and “learn how to manage stress and how to deal with anger” more firmly on the individual than the agency.[18] According to this document, officers who need additional support must disclose this by requesting it from their supervisor, while “a helpline or psychologist on-site may be available, depending on location”.

      Frontex anticipates this recruitment drive to be “game changing”. Indeed, the Commission is relying upon it to reach its ambitions for the agency’s independence and efficiency. The inclusion of mandatory training in fundamental rights in the six-month introductory education is obviously a welcome step. Whether lessons learned in a classroom will be the first thing that comes to the minds of officials deployed on border control or deportation operations remains to be seen.

      Unmanaged responses to emotional stress can include burnout, compassion-fatigue and indirect trauma, which can in turn decrease a person’s ability to cope with adverse circumstance, and increase the risk of violence.[19] Therefore, aside from the agency’s responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health of its staff, its approach to internal psychological care will affect not only the border guards themselves, but the people that they routinely come into contact with at borders and during return operations, many of whom themselves will have experienced trauma.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Endnotes

      [1] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [2] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [3] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [4] The ETIAS Central Unit will be responsible for processing the majority of applications for ‘travel authorisations’ received when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System comes into use, in theory in late 2022. Citizens who do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for authorisation to travel to the Schengen area.

      [5] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [6] Article 54(4), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [7] ‘European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more’, 29 January 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_124; “Mission letter” from Ursula von der Leyen to Ylva Johnsson, 10 September 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/mission-letter-ylva-johansson_en.pdf

      [8] Annex II, 2019 Regulation

      [9] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [10] ‘Press release: EU border agency targeted “isolated or mistreated” individuals for questioning’, Statewatch News, 16 February 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/feb/eu-frontex-op-hera-debriefing-pr.htm

      [11] ‘Provision of Medical Services – Pre-Recruitment Examination’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-documents.html?cftId=5841

      [12] ‘Provision of medical services – pre-recruitment examination, Terms of Reference - Annex II to invitation to tender no Frontex/OP/1491/2019/KM’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-document.html?docId=65398

      [13] Frontex training presentation, ‘Medical precautionary measures for escort officers’, undated, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-presentation-medical-precautionary-measures-deportation-escor

      [14] Ibid.

      [15] Frontex, document listing course learning outcomes from deportation escorts’ training, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-deportation-escorts-training-course-learning-outcomes.pdf

      [16] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [17] Frontex, ‘Frontex mental health strategy’, 20 February 2018, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/89c168fe-e14b-11e7-9749-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

      [18] EASO, Europol and Frontex, ‘Occupational health and safety’, 12 August 2019, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/17cc07e0-bd88-11e9-9d01-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-103142015

      [19] Trauma Treatment International, ‘A different approach for victims of trauma’, https://www.tt-intl.org/#our-work-section

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/frontex-launches-game-changing-recruitment-drive-for-standing-corps-of-b
      #gardes_frontières #staff #corps_des_gardes-frontières

    • Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders (27.02.2020)

      Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

      It is not easy to obtain majorities for legislation in the European Union in the area of migration - unless it is a matter of upgrading the EU’s external borders. While the reform of a common EU asylum system has been on hold for years, the European Commission, Parliament and Council agreed to reshape the border agency Frontex with unusual haste shortly before last year’s parliamentary elections. A new Regulation has been in force since December 2019,[1] under which Frontex intends to build up a “standing corps” of 10,000 uniformed officials by 2027. They can be deployed not just at the EU’s external borders, but in ‘third countries’ as well.

      In this way, Frontex will become a “European border police force” with powers that were previously reserved for the member states alone. The core of the new Regulation includes the procurement of the agency’s own equipment. The Multiannual Financial Framework, in which the EU determines the distribution of its financial resources from 2021 until 2027, has not yet been decided. According to current plans, however, at least €6 billion are reserved for Frontex in the seven-year budget. The intention is for Frontex to spend a large part of the money, over €2 billion, on aircraft, ships and vehicles.[2]

      Frontex seeks company for drone flights

      The upgrade plans include the stationing of large drones in the central and eastern Mediterranean. For this purpose, Frontex is looking for a private partner to operate flights off Malta, Italy or Greece. A corresponding tender ended in December[3] and the selection process is currently underway. The unmanned missions could then begin already in spring. Frontex estimates the total cost of these missions at €50 million. The contract has a term of two years and can be extended twice for one year at a time.

      Frontex wants drones of the so-called MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class. Their flight duration should be at least 20 hours. The requirements include the ability to fly in all weather conditions and at day and night. It is also planned to operate in airspace where civil aircraft are in service. For surveillance missions, the drones should carry electro-optical cameras, thermal imaging cameras and so-called “daylight spotter” systems that independently detect moving targets and keep them in focus. Other equipment includes systems for locating mobile and satellite telephones. The drones will also be able to receive signals from emergency call transmitters sewn into modern life jackets.

      However, the Frontex drones will not be used primarily for sea rescue operations, but to improve capacities against unwanted migration. This assumption is also confirmed by the German non-governmental organisation Sea-Watch, which has been providing assistance in the central Mediterranean with various ships since 2015. “Frontex is not concerned with saving lives,” says Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch. “While air surveillance is being expanded with aircraft and drones, ships urgently needed for rescue operations have been withdrawn”. Sea-Watch demands that situation pictures of EU drones are also made available to private organisations for sea rescue.

      Aircraft from arms companies

      Frontex has very specific ideas for its own drones, which is why there are only a few suppliers worldwide that can be called into question. The Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1, which Frontex tested for several months on the Greek island of Crete[4] and which is also flown by the German Bundeswehr, is one of them. As set out by Frontex in its invitation to tender, the Heron 1, with a payload of around 250 kilograms, can carry all the surveillance equipment that the agency intends to deploy over the Mediterranean. Also amongst those likely to be interested in the Frontex contract is the US company General Atomics, which has been building drones of the Predator series for 20 years. Recently, it presented a new Predator model in Greece under the name SeaGuardian, for maritime observation.[5] It is equipped with a maritime surveillance radar and a system for receiving position data from larger ships, thus fulfilling one of Frontex’s essential requirements.

      General Atomics may have a competitive advantage, as its Predator drones have several years’ operational experience in the Mediterranean. In addition to Frontex, the European Union has been active in the central Mediterranean with EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In March 2019, Italy’s then-interior minister Matteo Salvini pushed through the decision to operate the EU mission from the air alone. Since then, two unarmed Predator drones operated by the Italian military have been flying for EUNAVFOR MED for 60 hours per month. Officially, the drones are to observe from the air whether the training of the Libyan coast guard has been successful and whether these navy personnel use their knowledge accordingly. Presumably, however, the Predators are primarily pursuing the mission’s goal to “combat human smuggling” by spying on the Libyan coast. It is likely that the new Operation EU Active Surveillance, which will use military assets from EU member states to try to enforce the UN arms embargo placed on Libya,[6] will continue to patrol with Italian drones off the coast in North Africa.

      Three EU maritime surveillance agencies

      In addition to Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) are also investing in maritime surveillance using drones. Together, the three agencies coordinate some 300 civil and military authorities in EU member states.[7] Their tasks include border, fisheries and customs control, law enforcement and environmental protection.

      In 2017, Frontex and EMSA signed an agreement to benefit from joint reconnaissance capabilities, with EFCA also involved.[8] At the time, EMSA conducted tests with drones of various sizes, but now the drones’ flights are part of its regular services. The offer is not only open to EU Member States, as Iceland was the first to take advantage of it. Since summer 2019, a long-range Hermes 900 drone built by the Israeli company Elbit Systems has been flying from Iceland’s Egilsstaðir airport. The flights are intended to cover more than half of the island state’s exclusive economic zone and to detect “suspicious activities and potential hazards”.[9]

      The Hermes 900 was also developed for the military; the Israeli army first deployed it in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The Times of Israel puts the cost of the operating contract with EMSA at €59 million,[10] with a term of two years, which can be extended for another two years. The agency did not conclude the contract directly with the Israeli arms company, but through the Portuguese firm CeiiA. The contract covers the stationing, control and mission control of the drones.

      New interested parties for drone flights

      At the request of the German MEP Özlem Demirel (from the party Die Linke), the European Commission has published a list of countries that also want to use EMSA drones.[11] According to this list, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and also Greece have requested unmanned flights for pollution monitoring this year, while Bulgaria and Spain want to use them for general maritime surveillance. Until Frontex has its own drones, EMSA is flying its drones for the border agency on Crete. As in Iceland, this is the long-range drone Hermes 900, but according to Greek media reports it crashed on 8 January during take-off.[12] Possible causes are a malfunction of the propulsion system or human error. The aircraft is said to have been considerably damaged.

      Authorities from France and Great Britain have also ordered unmanned maritime surveillance from EMSA. Nothing is yet known about the exact intended location, but it is presumably the English Channel. There, the British coast guard is already observing border traffic with larger drones built by the Tekever arms company from Portugal.[13] The government in London wants to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel. The drones take off from the airport in the small town of Lydd and monitor the approximately 50-kilometre-long and 30-kilometre-wide Strait of Dover. Great Britain has also delivered several quadcopters to France to try to detect potential migrants in French territorial waters. According to the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais, eight gendarmes have been trained to control the small drones[14].

      Information to non-EU countries

      The images taken by EMSA drones are evaluated by the competent national coastguards. A livestream also sends them to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw.[15] There they are fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system. This is operated by Frontex and networks the surveillance installations of all EU member states that have an external border. The data from EUROSUR and the national border control centres form the ‘Common Pre-frontier Intelligence Picture’,[16] referring to the area of interest of Frontex, which extends far into the African continent. Surveillance data is used to detect and prevent migration movements at an early stage.

      Once the providing company has been selected, the new Frontex drones are also to fly for EUROSUR. According to the invitation to tender, they are to operate in the eastern and central Mediterranean within a radius of up to 250 nautical miles (463 kilometres). This would enable them to carry out reconnaissance in the “pre-frontier” area off Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Within the framework of EUROSUR, Frontex shares the recorded data with other European users via a ‘Remote Information Portal’, as the call for tender explains. The border agency has long been able to cooperate with third countries and the information collected can therefore also be made available to authorities in North Africa. However, in order to share general information on surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea with a non-EU state, Frontex must first conclude a working agreement with the corresponding government.[17]

      It is already possible, however, to provide countries such as Libya with the coordinates of refugee boats. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) must be informed of actual or suspected emergencies. With EU funding, Italy has been building such a centre in Tripoli for the last two years.[18] It is operated by the military coast guard, but so far has no significant equipment of its own.

      The EU military mission “EUNAVFOR MED” was cooperating more extensively with the Libyan coast guard. For communication with European naval authorities, Libya is the first third country to be connected to European surveillance systems via the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network[19]. Information handed over to the Libyan authorities might also include information that was collected with the Italian military ‘Predator’ drones.

      Reconnaissance generated with unmanned aerial surveillance is also given to the MRCC in Turkey. This was seen in a pilot project last summer, when the border agency tested an unmanned aerostat with the Greek coast guard off the island of Samos.[20] Attached to a 1,000 metre-long cable, the airship was used in the Frontex operation ‘Poseidon’ in the eastern Mediterranean. The 35-meter-long zeppelin comes from the French manufacturer A-NSE.[21] The company specializes in civil and military aerial observation. According to the Greek Marine Ministry, the equipment included a radar, a thermal imaging camera and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the tracking of larger ships. The recorded videos were received and evaluated by a situation centre supplied by the Portuguese National Guard. If a detected refugee boat was still in Turkish territorial waters, the Greek coast guard informed the Turkish authorities. This pilot project in the Aegean Sea was the first use of an airship by Frontex. The participants deployed comparatively large numbers of personnel for the short mission. Pictures taken by the Greek coastguard show more than 40 people.

      Drones enable ‘pull-backs’

      Human rights organisations accuse EUNAVFOR MED and Frontex of passing on information to neighbouring countries leading to rejections (so-called ‘push-backs’) in violation of international law. People must not be returned to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Frontex does not itself return refugees in distress who were discovered at sea via aerial surveillance, but leaves the task to the Libyan or Turkish authorities. Regarding Libya, the Agency since 2017 provided notice of at least 42 vessels in distress to Libyan authorities.[22]

      Private rescue organisations therefore speak of so-called ‘pull-backs’, but these are also prohibited, as the Israeli human rights lawyer Omer Shatz argues: “Communicating the location of civilians fleeing war to a consortium of militias and instructing them to intercept and forcibly transfer them back to the place they fled from, trigger both state responsibility of all EU members and individual criminal liability of hundreds involved.” Together with his colleague Juan Branco, Shatz is suing those responsible for the European Union and its agencies before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Soon they intend to publish individual cases and the names of the people accused.

      Matthias Monroy

      An earlier version of this article first appeared in the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique: ‘Drohnen für Frontex Statt sich auf die Rettung von Bootsflüchtlingen im Mittelmeer zu konzentrieren, baut die EU die Luftüberwachung’.

      Note: this article was corrected on 6 March to clarify a point regarding cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states.

      Endnotes

      [1] Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard, https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-33-2019-INIT/en/pdf

      [2] European Commission, ‘A strengthened and fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard’, 12 September 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-factsheet-coast-guard_en.pdf

      [3] ‘Poland-Warsaw: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Medium Altitude Long Endurance Maritime Aerial Surveillance’, https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:490010-2019:TEXT:EN:HTML&tabId=1

      [4] IAI, ‘IAI AND AIRBUS MARITIME HERON UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM (UAS) SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED 200 FLIGHT HOURS IN CIVILIAN EUROPEAN AIRSPACE FOR FRONTEX’, 24 October 2018, https://www.iai.co.il/iai-and-airbus-maritime-heron-unmanned-aerial-system-uas-successfully-complet

      [5] ‘ European Maritime Flight Demonstrations’, General Atomics, http://www.ga-asi.com/european-maritime-demo

      [6] ‘EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo’, The Guardian, 17 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/17/eu-agrees-deploy-warships-enforce-libya-arms-embargo

      [7] EMSA, ‘Heads of EMSA and Frontex meet to discuss cooperation on European coast guard functions’, 3 April 2019, http://www.emsa.europa.eu/news-a-press-centre/external-news/item/3499-heads-of-emsa-and-frontex-meet-to-discuss-cooperation-on-european-c

      [8] Frontex, ‘Frontex, EMSA and EFCA strengthen cooperation on coast guard functions’, 23 March 2017, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-emsa-and-efca-strengthen-cooperation-on-coast-guard-functions

      [9] Elbit Systems, ‘Elbit Systems Commenced the Operation of the Maritime UAS Patrol Service to European Union Countries’, 18 June 2019, https://elbitsystems.com/pr-new/elbit-systems-commenced-the-operation-of-the-maritime-uas-patrol-servi

      [10] ‘Elbit wins drone contract for up to $68m to help monitor Europe coast’, The Times of Israel, 1 November 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/elbit-wins-drone-contract-for-up-to-68m-to-help-monitor-europe-coast

      [11] ‘Answer given by Ms Bulc on behalf of the European Commission’, https://netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2019/12/E-2946_191_Finalised_reply_Annex1_EN_V1.pdf

      [12] ‘Το drone της FRONTEX έπεσε, οι μετανάστες έρχονται’, Proto Thema, 27 January 2020, https://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/968869/to-drone-tis-frontex-epese-oi-metanastes-erhodai

      [13] Morgan Meaker, ‘Here’s proof the UK is using drones to patrol the English Channel’, Wired, 10 January 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-drones-migrants-english-channel

      [14] ‘Littoral: Les drones pour lutter contre les traversées de migrants sont opérationnels’, La Voix du Nord, 26 March 2019, https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/557951/article/2019-03-26/les-drones-pour-lutter-contre-les-traversees-de-migrants-sont-operation

      [15] ‘Frontex report on the functioning of Eurosur – Part I’, Council document 6215/18, 15 February 2018, http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6215-2018-INIT/en/pdf

      [16] European Commission, ‘Eurosur’, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/eurosur_en

      [17] Legal reforms have also given Frontex the power to operate on the territory of non-EU states, subject to the conclusion of a status agreement between the EU and the country in question. The 2016 Frontex Regulation allowed such cooperation with states that share a border with the EU; the 2019 Frontex Regulation extends this to any non-EU state.

      [18] ‘Helping the Libyan Coast Guard to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre’, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-000547_EN.html

      [19] Matthias Monroy, ‘EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean’, 7 July 2018, https://digit.site36.net/2018/07/03/eu-funds-the-sacking-of-rescue-ships-in-the-mediterranean

      [20] Frontex, ‘Frontex begins testing use of aerostat for border surveillance’, 31 July 2019, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-begins-testing-use-of-aerostat-for-border-surveillance-ur33N8

      [21] ‘Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission’, 7 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002529-ASW_EN.html

      [22] ‘Answer given by Vice-President Borrell on behalf of the European Commission’, 8 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002654-ASW_EN.html

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/drones-for-frontex-unmanned-migration-control-at-europe-s-borders

      #drones

    • Monitoring “secondary movements” and “hotspots”: Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency (16.12.2019)

      The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

      The establishment of a new ’standing corps’ of 10,000 border guards to be commanded by EU border agency Frontex has generated significant public and press attention in recent months. However, the new rules governing Frontex[1] include a number of other significant developments - including a mandate for the surveillance of migratory movements and migration “hotspots” within the EU.

      Previously, the agency’s surveillance role has been restricted to the external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or “selected third-country ports.”[2] New legal provisions mean it will now be able to gather data on the movement of people within the EU. While this is only supposed to deal with “trends, volumes and routes,” rather than personal data, it is intended to inform operational activity within the EU.

      This may mean an increase in operations against ‘unauthorised’ migrants, bringing with it risks for fundamental rights such as the possibility of racial profiling, detention, violence and the denial of access to asylum procedures. At the same time, in a context where internal borders have been reintroduced by numerous Schengen states over the last five years due to increased migration, it may be that he agency’s new role contributes to a further prolongation of internal border controls.

      From external to internal surveillance

      Frontex was initially established with the primary goals of assisting in the surveillance and control of the external borders of the EU. Over the years it has obtained increasing powers to conduct surveillance of those borders in order to identify potential ’threats’.

      The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) has a key role in this task, taking data from a variety of sources, including satellites, sensors, drones, ships, vehicles and other means operated both by national authorities and the agency itself. EUROSUR was formally established by legislation approved in 2013, although the system was developed and in use long before it was subject to a legal framework.[3]

      The new Frontex Regulation incorporates and updates the provisions of the 2013 EUROSUR Regulation. It maintains existing requirements for the agency to establish a “situational picture” of the EU’s external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or the ports of non-EU states – which is then distributed to the EU’s member states in order to inform operational activities.[4]

      The new rules also provide a mandate for reporting on “unauthorised secondary movements” and goings-on in the “hotspots”. The Commission’s proposal for the new Frontex Regulation was not accompanied by an impact assessment, which would have set out the reasoning and justifications for these new powers. The proposal merely pointed out that the new rules would “evolve” the scope of EUROSUR, to make it possible to “prevent secondary movements”.[5] As the European Data Protection Supervisor remarked, the lack of an impact assessment made it impossible: “to fully assess and verify its attended benefits and impact, notably on fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”[6]

      The term “secondary movements” is not defined in the Regulation, but is generally used to refer to journeys between EU member states undertaken without permission, in particular by undocumented migrants and applicants for internal protection. Regarding the “hotspots” – established and operated by EU and national authorities in Italy and Greece – the Regulation provides a definition,[7] but little clarity on precisely what information will be gathered.

      Legal provisions

      A quick glance at Section 3 of the new Regulation, dealing with EUROSUR, gives little indication that the system will now be used for internal surveillance. The formal scope of EUROSUR is concerned with the external borders and border crossing points:

      “EUROSUR shall be used for border checks at authorised border crossing points and for external land, sea and air border surveillance, including the monitoring, detection, identification, tracking, prevention and interception of unauthorised border crossings for the purpose of detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime and contributing to ensuring the protection and saving the lives of migrants.”

      However, the subsequent section of the Regulation (on ‘situational awareness’) makes clear the agency’s new internal role. Article 24 sets out the components of the “situational pictures” that will be visible in EUROSUR. There are three types – national situational pictures, the European situational picture and specific situational pictures. All of these should consist of an events layer, an operational layer and an analysis layer. The first of these layers should contain (emphasis added in all quotes):

      “…events and incidents related to unauthorised border crossings and cross-border crime and, where available, information on unauthorised secondary movements, for the purpose of understanding migratory trends, volume and routes.”

      Article 26, dealing with the European situational picture, states:

      “The Agency shall establish and maintain a European situational picture in order to provide the national coordination centres and the Commission with effective, accurate and timely information and analysis, covering the external borders, the pre-frontier area and unauthorised secondary movements.”

      The events layer of that picture should include “information relating to… incidents in the operational area of a joint operation or rapid intervention coordinated by the Agency, or in a hotspot.”[8] In a similar vein:

      “The operational layer of the European situational picture shall contain information on the joint operations and rapid interventions coordinated by the Agency and on hotspots, and shall include the mission statements, locations, status, duration, information on the Member States and other actors involved, daily and weekly situational reports, statistical data and information packages for the media.”[9]

      Article 28, dealing with ‘EUROSUR Fusion Services’, says that Frontex will provide national authorities with information on the external borders and pre-frontier area that may be derived from, amongst other things, the monitoring of “migratory flows towards and within the Union in terms of trends, volume and routes.”

      Sources of data

      The “situational pictures” compiled by Frontex and distributed via EUROSUR are made up of data gathered from a host of different sources. For the national situational picture, these are:

      national border surveillance systems;
      stationary and mobile sensors operated by national border agencies;
      border surveillance patrols and “other monitoring missions”;
      local, regional and other coordination centres;
      other national authorities and systems, such as immigration liaison officers, operational centres and contact points;
      border checks;
      Frontex;
      other member states’ national coordination centres;
      third countries’ authorities;
      ship reporting systems;
      other relevant European and international organisations; and
      other sources.[10]

      For the European situational picture, the sources of data are:

      national coordination centres;
      national situational pictures;
      immigration liaison officers;
      Frontex, including reports form its liaison officers;
      Union delegations and EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions;
      other relevant Union bodies, offices and agencies and international organisations; and
      third countries’ authorities.[11]

      The EUROSUR handbook – which will presumably be redrafted to take into account the new legislation – provides more detail about what each of these categories may include.[12]

      Exactly how this melange of different data will be used to report on secondary movements is currently unknown. However, in accordance with Article 24 of the new Regulation:

      “The Commission shall adopt an implementing act laying down the details of the information layers of the situational pictures and the rules for the establishment of specific situational pictures. The implementing act shall specify the type of information to be provided, the entities responsible for collecting, processing, archiving and transmitting specific information, the maximum time limits for reporting, the data security and data protection rules and related quality control mechanisms.” [13]

      This implementing act will specify precisely how EUROSUR will report on “secondary movements”.[14] According to a ‘roadmap’ setting out plans for the implementation of the new Regulation, this implementing act should have been drawn up in the last quarter of 2020 by a newly-established European Border and Coast Guard Committee sitting within the Commission. However, that Committee does not yet appear to have held any meetings.[15]

      Operational activities at the internal borders

      Boosting Frontex’s operational role is one of the major purposes of the new Regulation, although it makes clear that the internal surveillance role “should not lead to operational activities of the Agency at the internal borders of the Member States.” Rather, internal surveillance should “contribute to the monitoring by the Agency of migratory flows towards and within the Union for the purpose of risk analysis and situational awareness.” The purpose is to inform operational activity by national authorities.

      In recent years Schengen member states have reintroduced border controls for significant periods in the name of ensuring internal security and combating irregular migration. An article in Deutsche Welle recently highlighted:

      “When increasing numbers of refugees started arriving in the European Union in 2015, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary quickly reintroduced controls, citing a “continuous big influx of persons seeking international protection.” This was the first time that migration had been mentioned as a reason for reintroducing border controls.

      Soon after, six Schengen members reintroduced controls for extended periods. Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway cited migration as a reason. France, as the sixth country, first introduced border checks after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, citing terrorist threats. Now, four years later, all six countries still have controls in place. On November 12, they are scheduled to extend them for another six months.”[16]

      These long-term extensions of internal border controls are illegal (the upper limit is supposed to be two years; discussions on changes to the rules governing the reintroduction of internal border controls in the Schengen area are ongoing).[17] A European Parliament resolution from May 2018 stated that “many of the prolongations are not in line with the existing rules as to their extensions, necessity or proportionality and are therefore unlawful.”[18] Yves Pascou, a researcher for the European Policy Centre, told Deutsche Welle that: “"We are in an entirely political situation now, not a legal one, and not one grounded in facts.”

      A European Parliament study published in 2016 highlighted that:

      “there has been a noticeable lack of detail and evidence given by the concerned EU Member States [those which reintroduced internal border controls]. For example, there have been no statistics on the numbers of people crossing borders and seeking asylum, or assessment of the extent to which reintroducing border checks complies with the principles of proportionality and necessity.”[19]

      One purpose of Frontex’s new internal surveillance powers is to provide such evidence (albeit in the ideologically-skewed form of ‘risk analysis’) on the situation within the EU. Whether the information provided will be of interest to national authorities is another question. Nevertheless, it would be a significant irony if the provision of that information were to contribute to the further maintenance of internal borders in the Schengen area.

      At the same time, there is a more pressing concern related to these new powers. Many discussions on the reintroduction of internal borders revolve around the fact that it is contrary to the idea, spirit (and in these cases, the law) of the Schengen area. What appears to have been totally overlooked is the effect the reintroduction of internal borders may have on non-EU nationals or ethnic minority citizens of the EU. One does not have to cross an internal Schengen frontier too many times to notice patterns in the appearance of the people who are hauled off trains and buses by border guards, but personal anecdotes are not the same thing as empirical investigation. If Frontex’s new powers are intended to inform operational activity by the member states at the internal borders of the EU, then the potential effects on fundamental rights must be taken into consideration and should be the subject of investigation by journalists, officials, politicians and researchers.

      Chris Jones

      Endnotes

      [1] The new Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU in mid-November: Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [2] Article 12, ‘Common application of surveillance tools’, Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013R1052

      [3] According to Frontex, the Eurosur Network first came into use in December 2011 and in March 2012 was first used to “exchange operational information”. The Regulation governing the system came into force in October 2013 (see footnote 2). See: Charles Heller and Chris Jones, ‘Eurosur: saving lives or reinforcing deadly borders?’, Statewatch Journal, vol. 23 no. 3/4, February 2014, http://database.statewatch.org/article.asp?aid=33156

      [4] Recital 34, 2019 Regulation: “EUROSUR should provide an exhaustive situational picture not only at the external borders but also within the Schengen area and in the pre-frontier area. It should cover land, sea and air border surveillance and border checks.”

      [5] European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Council Joint Action no 98/700/JHA, Regulation (EU) no 1052/2013 and Regulation (EU) no 2016/1624’, COM(2018) 631 final, 12 September 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/sep/eu-com-frontex-proposal-regulation-com-18-631.pdf

      [6] EDPS, ‘Formal comments on the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard’, 30 November 2018, p. p.2, https://edps.europa.eu/sites/edp/files/publication/18-11-30_comments_proposal_regulation_european_border_coast_guard_en.pdf

      [7] Article 2(23): “‘hotspot area’ means an area created at the request of the host Member State in which the host Member State, the Commission, relevant Union agencies and participating Member States cooperate, with the aim of managing an existing or potential disproportionate migratory challenge characterised by a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving at the external borders”

      [8] Article 26(3)(c), 2019 Regulation

      [9] Article 26(4), 2019 Regulation

      [10] Article 25, 2019 Regulation

      [11] Article 26, 2019 Regulation

      [12] European Commission, ‘Commission Recommendation adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)’, C(2015) 9206 final, 15 December 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/eurosur_handbook_annex_en.pdf

      [13] Article 24(3), 2019 Regulation

      [14] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [15] Documents related to meetings of committees operating under the auspices of the European Commission can be found in the Comitology Register: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regcomitology/index.cfm?do=Search.Search&NewSearch=1

      [16] Kira Schacht, ‘Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement’, DW, 12 November 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/border-checks-in-eu-countries-challenge-schengen-agreement/a-51033603

      [17] European Parliament, ‘Temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders’, https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2017/0245(COD)&l=en

      [18] ‘Report on the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area’, 3 May 2018, para.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2018-0160_EN.html

      [19] Elpseth Guild et al, ‘Internal border controls in the Schengen area: is Schengen crisis-proof?’, European Parliament, June 2016, p.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571356/IPOL_STU(2016)571356_EN.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2019/monitoring-secondary-movements-and-hotspots-frontex-is-now-an-internal-s

      #mouvements_secondaires #hotspot #hotspots

  • Budget de l’Union : La Commission propose une importante augmentation des financements visant à renforcer la gestion des migrations et des frontières

    Pour le prochain #budget à long terme de l’UE se rapportant à la période 2021-2027, la Commission propose de quasiment tripler les financements destinés à la gestion des #migrations et des #frontières, qui atteindraient 34,9 milliards d’euros contre 13 milliards d’euros au cours de la période précédente.

    La proposition de la Commission est une réponse aux défis accrus qui se posent en matière de migration et de #sécurité, avec des instruments de financement plus flexibles pour faire face aux événements imprévus, la #protection_des_frontières étant au cœur du nouveau budget. Un nouveau fonds séparé pour la gestion intégrée des frontières sera créé et l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes sera renforcée par un nouveau corps permanent de quelque 10 000 #gardes-frontières. Ce nouveau fonds aidera aussi les États membres à effectuer les contrôles douaniers en finançant des équipements de contrôle douanier.

    M. Frans Timmermans, premier vice-président, a fait la déclaration suivante : « Sur la base de l’expérience passée et sachant que la migration restera un défi à l’avenir, nous proposons une augmentation des financements sans précédent. Le renforcement de nos frontières communes, notamment avec l’#Agence_européenne_de_garde-frontières_et_de_garde-côtes, continuera de figurer parmi les grandes #priorités. Une #flexibilité accrue de nos instruments de financement signifie que nous sommes prêts à fournir un soutien rapide aux États membres ; au moment et à l’endroit où ils en ont besoin - en particulier en cas de #crise. »

    M. Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissaire pour la migration, les affaires intérieures et la citoyenneté, a déclaré quant à lui : « Une meilleure gestion de nos frontières extérieures et des flux migratoires restera une priorité clé pour l’Union européenne, les États membres et nos citoyens dans les années à venir. Des défis plus grands exigent de faire appel à des ressources plus importantes - c’est pourquoi nous proposons de quasiment tripler le budget dans ce domaine. Le renforcement des financements jouera un rôle essentiel en nous permettant de mettre en œuvre nos priorités politiques : davantage sécuriser nos #frontières_extérieures, continuer à accorder une protection à ceux qui en ont besoin, mieux soutenir la #migration_légale et les efforts d’#intégration, lutter contre la migration irrégulière, et assurer le retour effectif et rapide de ceux qui ne bénéficient pas du droit de séjour. »

    M. Pierre Moscovici, commissaire pour les affaires économiques et financières, la fiscalité et les douanes, s’est exprimé en ces termes : « Les 115 000 fonctionnaires des douanes de l’UE sont en première ligne pour protéger les citoyens européens contre les produits contrefaits ou dangereux et les autres formes de commerce illicite. Afin de les soutenir dans cette mission capitale, nous proposons aujourd’hui un nouveau fonds doté de 1,3 milliard d’euros, afin que les pays de l’UE puissent acquérir les équipements douaniers les plus avancés. L’#union_douanière de l’UE fêtera son 50e anniversaire le mois prochain : nous devons veiller à ce qu’elle continue à prendre de l’ampleur. »

    Durant la crise des réfugiés de 2015 et de 2016, l’appui financier et technique que l’Union européenne a fourni aux États membres a été déterminant dans le soutien apporté à ceux d’entre eux qui se trouvaient sous pression, dans le développement des capacités de recherche et de sauvetage, dans l’intensification des retours et dans l’amélioration de la gestion des frontières extérieures. Tirant les enseignements du passé, la Commission propose de quasiment tripler les financements destinés aux domaines essentiels que représentent la gestion des migrations et celle des frontières.

    1. #Sécurisation des frontières extérieures de l’UE

    La protection effective des frontières extérieures de l’UE est essentielle pour gérer les flux migratoires et garantir la sécurité intérieure. Des frontières extérieures solides sont aussi ce qui permet à l’UE de maintenir un espace Schengen sans contrôles aux frontières intérieures. La Commission propose d’allouer 21,3 milliards d’euros à la gestion globale des frontières et de créer un nouveau #Fonds_pour_la_gestion_intégrée_des_frontières (#FGIF) doté d’une enveloppe supérieure à 9,3 milliards d’euros.

    Les principaux éléments du nouveau Fonds sont les suivants :

    – Une palette adéquate de priorités :

    Renforcement des frontières extérieures de l’Europe : Le nouveau #Fonds s’inscrira dans le prolongement du travail réalisé ces dernières années et s’appuiera sur lui pour mieux protéger les frontières de l’UE, avec la mise en place du corps européen de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, des vérifications systématiques aux frontières, de nouveaux systèmes informatiques à grande échelle et interopérables, y compris le futur système d’entrée/sortie. Le financement sera mis à disposition dans des domaines tels que la lutte contre le #trafic_de_migrants et la #traite des êtres humains, les opérations visant à intercepter et stopper les personnes représentant une #menace, l’appui aux opérations de recherche et de sauvetage en mer, les équipements et la formation des gardes-frontières, ainsi que l’appui opérationnel rapide aux États membres sous pression.
    Une politique des #visas plus solide et plus efficace : Le Fonds garantira également l’évolution continue et la modernisation de la politique des visas de l’UE, tout en renforçant la sécurité et en atténuant les risques liés à la migration irrégulière.

    – Soutien aux États membres : Le nouveau Fonds consacrera un financement à long terme de 4,8 milliards d’euros aux mesures prises par les États membres en matière de gestion des frontières et à la politique des visas. Le financement correspondra exactement aux besoins des États membres et un examen à mi-parcours tiendra compte de pressions nouvelles ou supplémentaires. Chaque État membre recevra un montant forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros, le reste étant distribué selon la charge de travail, la pression et le niveau de menace aux frontières extérieures terrestres (30 %), aux frontières extérieures maritimes (35 %), dans les aéroports (20 %) et dans les bureaux consulaires (15 %).

    – Une réponse souple et rapide : Un montant de 3,2 milliards d’euros sera consacré à des actions d’appui ciblé aux États membres, aux projets de dimension européenne, et permettra de faire face aux besoins urgents. Le nouveau Fonds a été conçu pour garantir une souplesse suffisante permettant de fournir aux États membres une aide d’urgence en cas de besoin et de faire face aux priorités nouvelles et critiques à mesure qu’elles surviennent.

    – Des équipements de contrôle douanier plus performants aux frontières extérieures : Le nouvel instrument comportera une enveloppe de 1,3 milliard d’euros pour aider les États membres à acquérir, entretenir et remplacer des équipements douaniers modernes, tels que de nouveaux #scanners, des systèmes de reconnaissance automatique des plaques minéralogiques, des équipes de #chiens_renifleurs et des #laboratoires_mobiles d’analyse d’échantillons.

    – Renforcement des organismes chargés de la gestion des frontières : En plus de ce Fonds, une enveloppe supérieure à 12 milliards d’euros devant être présentée séparément sera consacrée à la poursuite du renforcement de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes et de l’agence #eu-LISA.

    2. Migrations : soutenir une politique solide, réaliste et équitable

    La Commission propose de renforcer le financement destiné à la gestion des migrations à raison de 51 % et de le porter ainsi à 10,4 milliards d’euros au titre du Fonds « Asile et migration » renouvelé (#FAM). Le Fonds soutiendra les efforts déployés par les États membres dans trois domaines clés : l’asile, la migration légale et l’intégration, la lutte contre la migration irrégulière et le retour. Les principaux éléments du nouveau Fonds sont les suivants :

    – Une palette adéquate de priorités : Le nouveau Fonds continuera de fournir un appui vital aux systèmes d’asile nationaux et mettra un accent renouvelé sur la mise à disposition des aides de l’UE en faveur des questions les plus urgentes, telles que :

    Un #régime_d'asile_européen plus solide et plus efficace : Le Fonds contribuera à renforcer et à développer tous les aspects du #régime_d'asile_européen_commun, y compris sa dimension extérieure :
    Un soutien accru à la migration légale et à l’intégration : Le Fonds consacrera des ressources additionnelles au soutien de l’intégration précoce des ressortissants de pays tiers séjournant légalement dans l’UE sur le court terme, lesquelles seront complétées par un financement au titre du #Fonds_de_cohésion_pour_l'intégration_socio-économique à plus long terme.
    Des retours plus rapides et plus fréquents : Le Fonds soutiendra une approche plus coordonnée pour lutter contre la migration irrégulière, améliorer l’efficacité des retours et intensifier davantage la coopération avec les pays tiers en matière de réadmission.

    – Soutien aux États membres : Le Fonds consacrera un financement à long terme de 6,3 milliards d’euros à des actions de soutien aux États membres dans la gestion de la migration, en concordance avec leurs besoins. Un examen à mi-parcours tiendra compte de pressions nouvelles ou supplémentaires. Chaque État membre recevra un montant forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros, le reste étant distribué sur la base d’une évaluation des pressions s’exerçant sur lui et en tenant compte des proportions prévues en matière d’asile (30 %), de migration légale et d’intégration (30 %) et de retour (40 %).

    – Une meilleure préparation : Une enveloppe de 4,2 milliards d’euros sera réservée aux projets présentant une véritable valeur ajoutée européenne, telle que la #réinstallation, ou pour répondre à des besoins impérieux et pour faire parvenir des financements d’urgence aux États membres au moment et à l’endroit où ils en ont besoin.

    Une plus grande coordination entre les instruments de financement de l’UE : Le Fonds « Asile et migration » sera complété par les fonds additionnels affectés au titre des instruments de politique extérieure de l’UE pour accélérer la coopération en matière de migration avec les pays partenaires, notamment dans le cadre des efforts visant à lutter contre la migration irrégulière, à améliorer les perspectives dans les pays d’origine, à renforcer la coopération en matière de retour, de réadmission, et de migration légale ;

    – Renforcement des organismes de l’UE : En plus de ce fonds, une enveloppe de près de 900 millions d’euros devant être présentée séparément sera consacrée au renforcement de la nouvelle #Agence_de_l'Union_européenne_pour_l'asile.

    Prochaines étapes

    Il est essentiel de parvenir à un accord rapide sur le budget global à long terme de l’UE et sur ses propositions sectorielles de manière à garantir que les fonds de l’UE commencent à produire leurs effets le plus tôt possible sur le terrain.

    Des retards pourraient compromettre la capacité de l’Union européenne à réagir aux crises si elles venaient à éclater, et pourraient priver les projets de ressources essentielles - telles que les programmes européens d’aide au retour volontaire et de réadmission, et la poursuite du financement de l’UE en faveur de la réinstallation.

    Un accord sur le prochain budget à long terme en 2019 permettrait d’assurer une transition sans heurts entre l’actuel budget à long terme (2014-2020) et le nouveau, ce qui garantirait la prévisibilité et la continuité du financement, pour le bénéfice de tous.

    Historique du dossier

    Depuis le début du mandat de la Commission Juncker, la gestion des frontières et celle des migrations constituent une priorité politique - depuis les orientations politiques présentées en juillet 2014 par le président Juncker jusqu’à son dernier discours sur l’état de l’Union prononcé le 13 septembre 2017.

    Cependant, l’Europe a été surprise par l’ampleur et l’urgence de la crise des réfugiés de 2015-2016. Pour éviter une crise humanitaire et permettre une réponse commune à ce défi sans précédent, ainsi qu’aux nouvelles menaces pesant sur la sécurité, l’UE a fait usage de toute la souplesse possible dans le budget existant afin de mobiliser des fonds supplémentaires. En plus des dotations initiales pour la période 2014-2020 s’élevant à 6,9 milliards d’euros pour l’#AMIF et le #FSI (frontières et police), un montant supplémentaire de 3,9 milliards d’euros a été mobilisé pour atteindre 10,8 milliards d’euros en faveur de la migration, de la gestion des frontières et de la sécurité intérieure - et cela ne comprend même pas le financement important mobilisé pour faire face à la crise des réfugiés à l’extérieur de l’UE.

    Tirant les enseignements du passé, la Commission propose à présent de doubler le financement dans tous les domaines, avec 10,4 milliards d’euros pour la migration, 9,3 milliards d’euros pour la gestion des frontières, 2,5 milliards d’euros pour la sécurité intérieure et 1,2 milliard d’euros pour le déclassement sécurisé des installations nucléaires dans certains États membres - soit plus de 23 milliards d’euros au total.

    En outre, le soutien aux organismes de l’UE dans le domaine de la sécurité, de la gestion des frontières et des migrations sera revu à la hausse, passant de 4,2 milliards à 14 milliards d’euros.

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4106_fr.htm
    #EU #UE #migrations #asile #réfugiés #renvois #expulsions #interopérabilité #Fonds_Asile_et_migration #machine_à_expulser #accords_de_réadmission #coopération_internationale #aide_au_développement

    –-----------------

    Comme dit Sara Prestianni, voici la réponse à la tragédie de l’Aquarius...
    –-> « la #protection_des_frontières étant au cœur du nouveau budget »
     :-(

    Création d’ « un nouveau fonds séparé pour la gestion intégrée des frontières sera créé et l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes sera renforcée par un nouveau corps permanent de quelque 10 000 #gardes-frontières. Ce nouveau fonds aidera aussi les États membres à effectuer les contrôles douaniers en finançant des équipements de contrôle douanier »
    #Frontex n’est plus suffisant... un nouveau fonds est nécessaire... yuppi !
    #contrôles_frontaliers #complexe_militaro-industriel

    • Voici une contre-proposition, de #Gabriele_Del_Grande:

      Lettera al Ministro dell’Interno Matteo Salvini

      Confesso che su una cosa sono d’accordo con Salvini: la rotta libica va chiusa. Basta tragedie in mare, basta dare soldi alle mafie libiche del contrabbando. Sogno anch’io un Mediterraneo a sbarchi zero. Il problema però è capire come ci si arriva. E su questo, avendo alle spalle dieci anni di inchieste sul tema, mi permetto di dare un consiglio al ministro perché mi pare che stia ripetendo gli stessi errori dei suoi predecessori.

      Blocco navale, respingimenti in mare, centri di detenzione in Libia. La ricetta è la stessa da almeno quindici anni. Pisanu, Amato, Maroni, Cancellieri, Alfano, Minniti. Ci hanno provato tutti. E ogni volta è stato un fallimento: miliardi di euro persi e migliaia di morti in mare.

      Questa volta non sarà diverso. Per il semplice fatto che alla base di tutto ci sono due leggi di mercato che invece continuano ad essere ignorate. La prima è che la domanda genera l’offerta. La seconda è che il proibizionismo sostiene le mafie.

      In altre parole, finché qualcuno sarà disposto a pagare per viaggiare dall’Africa all’Europa, qualcuno gli offrirà la possibilità di farlo. E se non saranno le compagnie aeree a farlo, lo farà il contrabbando.

      Viviamo in un mondo globalizzato, dove i lavoratori si spostano da un paese all’altro in cerca di un salario migliore. L’Europa, che da decenni importa manodopera a basso costo in grande quantità, in questi anni ha firmato accordi di libera circolazione con decine di paesi extraeuropei. Che poi sono i paesi da dove provengono la maggior parte dei nostri lavoratori emigrati: Romania, Albania, Ucraina, Polonia, i Balcani, tutto il Sud America. La stessa Europa però, continua a proibire ai lavoratori africani la possibilità di emigrare legalmente sul suo territorio. In altre parole, le ambasciate europee in Africa hanno smesso di rilasciare visti o hanno reso quasi impossibile ottenerne uno.

      Siamo arrivati al punto che l’ultima e unica via praticabile per l’emigrazione dall’Africa all’Europa è quella del contrabbando libico. Le mafie libiche hanno ormai il monopolio della mobilità sud-nord del Mediterraneo centrale. Riescono a spostare fino a centomila passeggeri ogni anno con un fatturato di centinaia di milioni di dollari ma anche con migliaia di morti.

      Eppure non è sempre stato così. Davvero ci siamo dimenticati che gli sbarchi non esistevano prima degli anni Novanta? Vi siete mai chiesti perché? E vi siete mai chiesti perché nel 2018 anziché comprarsi un biglietto aereo una famiglia debba pagare il prezzo della propria morte su una barca sfasciata in mezzo al mare? Il motivo è molto semplice: fino agli anni Novanta era relativamente semplice ottenere un visto nelle ambasciate europee in Africa. In seguito, man mano che l’Europa ha smesso di rilasciare visti, le mafie del contrabbando hanno preso il sopravvento.

      Allora, se davvero Salvini vuole porre fine, come dice, al business delle mafie libiche del contrabbando, riformi i regolamenti dei visti anziché percorrere la strada del suo predecessore. Non invii i nostri servizi segreti in Libia con le valigette di contante per pagare le mafie del contrabbando affinché cambino mestiere e ci facciano da cane da guardia. Non costruisca altre prigioni oltremare con i soldi dei contribuenti italiani. Perché sono i nostri soldi e non vogliamo darli né alle mafie né alle polizie di paesi come la Libia o la Turchia.

      Noi quelle tasse le abbiamo pagate per veder finanziato il welfare! Per aprire gli asili nido che non ci sono. Per costruire le case popolari che non ci sono. Per finanziare la scuola e la sanità che stanno smantellando. Per creare lavoro. E allora sì smetteremo di farci la guerra fra poveri. E allora sì avremo un obiettivo comune per il quale lottare. Perché anche quella è una balla. Che non ci sono soldi per i servizi. I soldi ci sono, ma come vengono spesi? Quanti miliardi abbiamo pagato sottobanco alle milizie libiche colluse con le mafie del contrabbando negli anni passati? Quanti asili nido ci potevamo aprire con quegli stessi denari?

      Salvini non perda tempo. Faccia sbarcare i seicento naufraghi della Acquarius e anziché prendersela con le ONG, chiami la Farnesina e riscrivano insieme i regolamenti per il rilascio dei visti nei paesi africani. Introduca il visto per ricerca di lavoro, il meccanismo dello sponsor, il ricongiungimento familiare. E con l’occasione vada a negoziare in Europa affinché siano visti validi per circolare in tutta la zona UE e cercarsi un lavoro in tutta la UE anziché pesare su un sistema d’accoglienza che fa acqua da tutte le parti.

      Perché io continuo a non capire come mai un ventenne di Lagos o Bamako, debba spendere cinquemila euro per passare il deserto e il mare, essere arrestato in Libia, torturato, venduto, vedere morire i compagni di viaggio e arrivare in Italia magari dopo un anno, traumatizzato e senza più un soldo, quando con un visto sul passaporto avrebbe potuto comprarsi un biglietto aereo da cinquecento euro e spendere il resto dei propri soldi per affittarsi una stanza e cercarsi un lavoro. Esattamente come hanno fatto cinque milioni di lavoratori immigrati in Italia, che guardate bene non sono passati per gli sbarchi e tantomeno per l’accoglienza. Sono arrivati dalla Romania, dall’Albania, dalla Cina, dal Marocco e si sono rimboccati le maniche. Esattamente come hanno fatto cinque milioni di italiani, me compreso, emigrati all’estero in questi decenni. Esattamente come vorrebbero fare i centomila parcheggiati nel limbo dell’accoglienza.

      Centomila persone costrette ad anni di attesa per avere un permesso di soggiorno che già sappiamo non arriverà in almeno un caso su due. Perché almeno in un caso su due abbiamo davanti dei lavoratori e non dei profughi di guerra. Per loro non è previsto l’asilo politico. Ma non è previsto nemmeno il rimpatrio, perché sono troppo numerosi e perché non c’è la collaborazione dei loro paesi di origine. Significa che di qui a un anno almeno cinquantamila persone andranno ad allungare le file dei senza documenti e del mercato nero del lavoro.

      Salvini dia a tutti loro un permesso di soggiorno per motivi umanitari e un titolo di viaggio con cui possano uscire dal limbo dell’accoglienza e andare a firmare un contratto di lavoro, che sia in Italia o in Germania. E dare così un senso ai progetti che hanno seguito finora. Perché l’integrazione la fa il lavoro. E se il lavoro è in Germania, in Danimarca o in Norvegia, non ha senso costringere le persone dentro una mappa per motivi burocratici. Altro che riforma Dublino, noi dobbiamo chiedere la libera circolazione dentro l’Europa dei lavoratori immigrati. Perché non possiamo permetterci di avere cittadini di serie a e di serie b. E guardate che lo dobbiamo soprattutto a noi stessi.

      Perché chiunque di noi abbia dei bambini, sa che cresceranno in una società cosmopolita. Già adesso i loro migliori amici all’asilo sono arabi, cinesi, africani. Sdoganare un discorso razzista è una bomba a orologeria per la società del domani. Perché forse non ce ne siamo accorti, ma siamo già un noi. Il noi e loro è un discorso antiquato. Un discorso che forse suona ancora logico alle orecchie di qualche vecchio nazionalista. Ma che i miei figli non capirebbero mai. Perché io non riuscirei mai a spiegare ai miei bambini che ci sono dei bimbi come loro ripescati in mare dalla nave di una ONG e da due giorni sono bloccati al largo perché nessuno li vuole sbarcare a terra.

      Chissà, forse dovremmo ripartire da lì. Da quel noi e da quelle battaglie comuni. Dopotutto, siamo o non siamo una generazione a cui il mercato ha rubato il futuro e la dignità? Siamo o non siamo una generazione che ha ripreso a emigrare? E allora basta con le guerre tra poveri. Basta con le politiche forti coi deboli e deboli coi forti.

      Legalizzate l’emigrazione Africa –Europa, rilasciate visti validi per la ricerca di lavoro in tutta l’Europa, togliete alle mafie libiche il monopolio della mobilità sud-nord e facciamo tornare il Mediterraneo ad essere un mare di pace anziché una fossa comune. O forse trentamila morti non sono abbastanza?

      https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2105161009497488&id=100000108285082

    • Questions et réponses : les futurs financements de l’UE en faveur de la gestion des frontières et des migrations

      Quel sera le montant des financements disponibles pour la gestion des frontières et des migrations ?

      34,9 milliards d’euros.

      Tirant les enseignements du passé, et sachant que la question des migrations et de la gestion des frontières demeurera un défi à l’avenir, la Commission propose d’augmenter fortement les financements en la matière au titre du prochain budget de l’UE pour la période 2021-2027.

      Un montant de financements sans précédent sera alloué par l’intermédiaire de deux Fonds principaux :

      le nouveau Fonds « Asile et migration » (qui continuera de s’appeler FAMI sous sa dénomination abrégée) sera modifié et renforcé ;
      l’instrument relatif à la gestion des frontières et aux visas du Fonds pour la sécurité intérieure sera intégré à un nouveau Fonds, le Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières (FGIF), qui comprendra aussi un autre instrument, également nouveau, l’instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier.

      Au total, ce sont 34,9 milliards d’euros qui seront mis à disposition sur la prochaine période de 7 ans, contre 13 milliards d’euros environ pour la période budgétaire en cours :

      il est proposé d’augmenter de 51 % le budget alloué à la politique migratoire, qui passerait ainsi de 6,9 milliards d’euros actuellement à 10,4 milliards d’euros ;
      dans le cadre du nouveau Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières (FGIF), il est proposé de multiplier par quatre les financements alloués à la gestion des frontières, qui passeraient de 2,7 milliards d’euros actuellement (pour la période 2014-2020) à un montant qui pourrait atteindre 9,3 milliards d’euros (+ 241%).

      En outre, la Commission a proposé d’octroyer plus de 12 milliards d’euros à l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes et à l’agence eu-LISA et près de 900 millions d’euros à l’Agence de l’Union européenne pour l’asile (actuellement le Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile, EASO). Cette proposition sera présentée ultérieurement.

      1. Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières (FGIF)

      Pourquoi créer un nouveau Fonds distinct pour la gestion des frontières ?

      Dans le cadre de l’actuel budget de l’UE, la gestion des frontières relève du Fonds pour la sécurité intérieure (FSI), qui est scindé en FSI-Frontières et FSI-Police.

      Si un Fonds dédié à la gestion des frontières est créé en vertu du prochain cadre financier pluriannuel, c’est parce qu’aussi bien la gestion des frontières que la sécurité intérieure sont devenues des priorités de plus en plus pressantes, qui méritent chacune que des instruments financiers dédiés et plus ciblés leur soient consacrés.

      Pour pouvoir gérer les flux migratoires et garantir la sécurité intérieure, il est crucial de protéger efficacement les frontières extérieures de l’UE. Des frontières extérieures fortes sont aussi ce qui permet à l’UE de conserver un espace Schengen sans contrôles aux frontières intérieures.

      Le nouveau Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières comprend l’instrument relatif à la gestion des frontières et aux visas et inclura également un nouvel instrument : l’instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier, en reconnaissance du rôle joué par les autorités douanières dans la défense de toutes les frontières de l’UE (frontières maritimes, aériennes et terrestres et transits postaux), ainsi que dans la facilitation des échanges et la protection des personnes contre les marchandises dangereuses et les contrefaçons.

      Quelles sont les priorités du nouveau Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières ?

      Au cours des dernières années, un certain nombre de mesures ont été prises afin de répondre aux priorités du moment, mais aussi de poser tous les fondements importants nécessaires pour garantir la solidité des frontières.

      Le nouveau Fonds confortera ces efforts et apportera un soutien renforcé à la sécurisation de nos frontières extérieures, en s’attachant prioritairement :

      à soutenir davantage les États membres dans leurs efforts de sécurisation des frontières extérieures de l’UE ;
      à favoriser une plus grande uniformité des contrôles douaniers ;
      à garantir que les systèmes informatiques à grande échelle utilisés pour gérer les frontières sont solides et fonctionnent sans problème les uns avec les autres, ainsi qu’avec les systèmes nationaux ;
      à garantir l’adaptabilité de la politique commune des visas de l’UE à l’évolution des problèmes de sécurité et des défis liés à la migration, ainsi qu’aux nouvelles possibilités offertes par le progrès technologique.

      Comment les financements seront-ils répartis ?

      La dotation totale de 9,3 milliards d’euros au Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières se répartit comme suit :

      4,8 milliards d’euros iront à des financements à long terme destinés à soutenir les mesures de gestion des frontières et la politique des visas des États membres, dont un financement initial aux États membres de 4 milliards d’euros (soit 50 %) et un ajustement de 0,8 milliard d’euros (soit 10 %) à mi-parcours pour tenir compte des pressions nouvelles ou supplémentaires ;
      3,2 milliards d’euros (soit 40 %), distribués sur l’ensemble de la période de financement, iront à un « mécanisme thématique », destiné à apporter un soutien ciblé aux États membres, à financer des projets à valeur ajoutée européenne et à répondre en outre aux urgences ;
      1,3 milliard d’euros ira à l’instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier.

      Les financements alloués aux États membres reflèteront précisément les besoins de chacun. Au début de la période de programmation, chaque État membre recevra une somme forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros, tandis que le solde sera distribué en fonction de la charge de travail, de la pression et du niveau de menace aux frontières extérieures terrestres (30 %) et maritimes (35 %), dans les aéroports (20 %) et dans les bureaux consulaires (15 %).

      En outre, sur les 4,8 milliards d’euros alloués aux États membres, 157,2 millions d’euros seront réservés au régime de transit spécial appliqué par la Lituanie.

      Comment les dotations nationales au titre de l’instrument relatif à la gestion des frontières et aux visas seront-elles calculées ? Pourquoi n’est-il pas possible de fournir dès à présent la ventilation par État membre ?

      Chaque État membre recevra une somme forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros au début de la période de financement. Au-delà, leurs dotations respectives seront calculées sur la base d’une évaluation des besoins les plus pressants. Cette évaluation sera de nouveau réalisée à mi-parcours.

      Pour chaque État membre, cette évaluation tiendra compte :

      de la longueur de tout tronçon des frontières extérieures terrestres et maritimes que gère cet État membre et de la charge de travail liée (sur la base du nombre de franchissements et du nombre de refus d’entrée), ainsi que du niveau de menace (sur la base d’une évaluation de la vulnérabilité réalisée par l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes) ;
      de la charge de travail (sur la base du nombre de franchissements et du nombre de refus d’entrée) dans les aéroports de cet État membre ;
      du nombre de bureaux consulaires que compte cet État membre et de la charge de travail liée (sur la base du nombre de demandes de visa).

      Les calculs se fonderont sur des données statistiques collectées par Eurostat, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes et les États membres sur les trois années (36 mois) ayant précédé l’entrée en application du nouveau budget.

      De plus, outre leurs dotations et en application des calculs susmentionnés, les États membres recevront, tout au long de la période de programmation, des financements ciblés en faveur de priorités thématiques ou en réponse à des besoins pressants. Ces financements proviendront du « mécanisme thématique ».

      Étant donné que le prochain budget à long terme doit couvrir une période s’ouvrant en 2021, il n’est pas possible de prédire dès à présent ce que montreront les données futures. Une ventilation basée sur les données d’aujourd’hui donnerait une image biaisée, ne correspondant pas à ce que seront les dotations effectives.

      Ce budget revu à la hausse servira-t-il aussi à renforcer les agences de l’UE chargées de la gestion des frontières ?

      Oui. Outre les 9,3 milliards d’euros alloués au Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières, et au titre d’une proposition qui sera présentée séparément, plus de 12 milliards d’euros serviront à renforcer encore l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, y compris par le financement d’un corps permanent de quelque 10 000 garde-frontières, ainsi qu’à financer l’agence eu-LISA (l’Agence européenne pour la gestion opérationnelle des systèmes d’information à grande échelle au sein de l’espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice).

      La Commission va-t-elle désormais financer aussi la construction de clôtures ?

      Non. Le travail de la Commission vise à garantir un contrôle adéquat des frontières, non à les fermer. La Commission n’a jamais financé de clôtures et n’entend pas le faire non plus dans le cadre du nouveau budget de l’UE.

      Le Fonds soutiendra-t-il la réalisation de vérifications systématiques obligatoires aux frontières extérieures ?

      Oui.

      Depuis le 7 avril 2017, outre les vérifications systématiques qui étaient déjà réalisées sur tous les ressortissants de pays tiers entrant dans l’espace Schengen, les États membres sont tenus de procéder à des vérifications systématiques, dans les bases de données pertinentes, sur les citoyens de l’UE qui franchissent les frontières extérieures de l’UE.

      Le nouveau Fonds pour la gestion intégrée des frontières (via son instrument relatif à la gestion des frontières et aux visas) apportera un soutien supplémentaire aux États membres, pour les aider à s’acquitter de ces responsabilités.

      Il s’agira d’un soutien aux infrastructures, aux équipements (tels que des scanners de documents) et aux systèmes informatiques utilisés pour contrôler les frontières, mais aussi d’un soutien à la formation des garde-frontières et à des actions visant à améliorer la coopération interservices. Les États membres pourront également couvrir les frais de personnel et de fonctionnement liés aux vérifications systématiques obligatoires aux frontières extérieures.

      Comment le nouvel instrument relatif aux visas soutiendra-t-il l’élaboration de la politique commune des visas ?

      Le nouveau Fonds aidera à moderniser la politique commune des visas de l’UE. Les financements seront essentiels, notamment parce qu’ils permettront d’améliorer l’efficacité du traitement des demandes de visa, par exemple en termes de détection et d’évaluation des risques de sécurité et de migration irrégulière, et de faciliter les procédures de visa pour les voyageurs de bonne foi.

      En 2018, la Commission a présenté une proposition de modification ciblée du code des visas et une proposition de révision du cadre juridique sous-tendant le système d’information sur les visas (VIS). Il faudra soutenir financièrement la mise en œuvre de certaines des mesures proposées, telles que la modernisation du VIS aux fins de son utilisation combinée avec d’autres systèmes d’information de l’Union et d’une coopération améliorée entre les autorités des États membres dans le cadre du traitement des demandes de visa.

      Le Fonds servira en outre à évaluer plus avant la possibilité de numériser le traitement des demandes de visa. Sur le moyen à long terme, il sera essentiel à la mise en place de procédures électroniques de visa rapides, sûres et conviviales, pour le plus grand avantage tant des demandeurs de visa que des consulats.

      Pourquoi accorder une telle importance aux contrôles douaniers ?

      L’union douanière est unique au monde. Elle constitue un fondement de l’Union européenne et elle est essentielle au bon fonctionnement du marché unique. Une fois les formalités douanières accomplies dans un État membre, les marchandises peuvent circuler librement sur le territoire de l’Union, puisque tous les États membres sont censés appliquer les mêmes règles en matière de recettes et de protection aux frontières extérieures. Les administrations douanières de l’UE doivent coopérer étroitement pour faciliter les échanges et protéger la santé et la sécurité de tous les citoyens de l’UE. L’UE est l’un des plus grands blocs commerciaux du monde : en 2015, elle a pesé pour près de 15 % (représentant 3 500 milliards d’euros) dans les échanges mondiaux de marchandises.

      Pour gérer ce volume d’échanges internationaux, il faut traiter chaque année, de manière rapide et efficace, des millions de déclarations en douane. Mais les douanes jouent également un rôle protecteur. Elles participent activement à la lutte contre le terrorisme, en procédant à des vérifications pour détecter le trafic d’armes et le commerce illégal d’œuvres d’art et de biens culturels, et elles protègent les consommateurs contre les marchandises qui présentent un risque pour leur santé et leur sécurité. Ainsi, 454,2 tonnes de stupéfiants, 35 millions de marchandises de contrefaçon et 3,2 milliards de cigarettes ont été saisis dans l’Union en 2014. La réalisation de contrôles appropriés passe par l’échange rapide d’informations de haute qualité et à jour et par une bonne coordination entre les administrations douanières de nos États membres.

      Que prévoit le nouvel « instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier » ?

      Le nouvel instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier vise à aider les États membres à effectuer les contrôles douaniers en finançant les équipements nécessaires. Si ce nouvel instrument, doté d’une enveloppe de 1,3 milliard d’euros, est créé, c’est afin de permettre l’acquisition, la maintenance et le remplacement d’équipements douaniers innovants, dès lors que ni le Programme « Douane » ni d’autres instruments financiers existants ne sont disponibles à cette fin.

      Cet instrument financera les équipements douaniers pour les quatre types de frontières (terrestres, maritimes, aériennes et postales), un groupe de travail composé d’États membres volontaires étant chargé de superviser et d’évaluer les besoins en équipement pour chaque type de frontière. Les fonds seront mis à la disposition de tous les États membres. Des travaux ont déjà été menés par l’équipe d’experts douaniers de la frontière terrestre est et sud-est de l’Union (CELBET), qui réunit les onze États membres chargés des frontières terrestres de l’Union. L’équipe CELBET poursuivra ses activités. S’agissant des autres types de frontières, les travaux peuvent désormais commencer afin que les besoins des États membres puissent être évalués, et des fonds alloués, dès l’entrée en vigueur, en 2021, de l’instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier.

      Quel type d’équipement est-il possible d’acquérir au moyen du nouvel instrument ?

      L’instrument a pour objectif de financer des équipements qui ne sont pas intrusifs, mais qui permettent la réalisation de contrôles douaniers efficaces et efficients. Parmi les équipements que les États membres pourraient acquérir ou moderniser ou dont ils pourraient solliciter la maintenance, citons les scanners, les systèmes de détection automatisée des plaques d’immatriculation, les équipes de chiens renifleurs et les laboratoires mobiles d’analyse d’échantillons. Les besoins en équipement seront définis dans le cadre du Programme « Douane » qui s’applique parallèlement au nouvel instrument relatif aux équipements de contrôle douanier annoncé aujourd’hui. Les équipements de contrôle douanier mis à disposition au titre de ce Fonds pourront également être utilisés pour d’autres contrôles de conformité, réalisés, par exemple, en application de dispositions en matière de visas ou de prescriptions de police, le cas échéant, ce qui permettra d’en maximiser l’impact.

      L’instrument établit des priorités en matière de financement des équipements selon certains critères d’éligibilité. Les équipements pourront être achetés au titre de la nouvelle réglementation uniquement s’ils se rapportent à au moins un des six objectifs suivants : inspections non intrusives ; détection d’objets cachés sur des êtres humains ; détection des rayonnements et identification de nucléides ; analyse d’échantillons en laboratoire ; échantillonnage et analyse sur le terrain des échantillons ; et fouille à l’aide de dispositifs portables, Cette liste pourra être réexaminée en tant que de besoin. L’instrument soutiendra également l’acquisition ou la modernisation d’équipements de contrôle douanier pour l’expérimentation de nouveaux dispositifs ou de nouvelles conditions sur le terrain avant que les États membres n’entament des achats à grande échelle d’équipements neufs.

      2. Fonds « Asile et migration » (FAMI)

      Quelles sont les priorités du Fonds « Asile et migration » ?

      Au cours des vingt dernières années, l’Union européenne a mis en place des normes communes en matière d’asile qui comptent parmi les plus élevées au monde. S’agissant des migrations, la politique européenne a progressé à pas de géant ces trois dernières années, sous l’effet de l’agenda européen en matière de migration proposé par la Commission Juncker en mai 2015. Une ligne de conduite plus homogène se dégage peu à peu pour faire face au phénomène.

      Outre qu’il soutiendra les efforts déployés actuellement, le nouveau Fonds accroîtra encore le soutien octroyé à la gestion des migrations, en s’attachant prioritairement :

      à offrir davantage de soutien aux États membres soumis aux pressions migratoires les plus fortes ;
      à soutenir davantage la migration légale et l’intégration rapide des ressortissants de pays tiers en séjour régulier ;
      à lutter contre l’immigration irrégulière, en accroissant le nombre de retours effectifs des personnes qui n’ont pas le droit de séjourner dans l’UE et en renforçant la coopération en matière de réadmission avec les pays tiers ;
      à équiper l’Union de moyens plus rapides et plus souples pour faire face aux crises.

      Comment les fonds prévus au titre du FAMI seront-ils répartis entre les États membres ?

      La Commission a proposé de consacrer 10,4 milliards d’euros au nouveau Fonds « Asile et migration » (FAMI).

      Un montant de 4,2 milliards d’euros (40 %) de cette enveloppe sera distribué tout au long de la période de financement pour apporter un appui ciblé aux États membres, qui concernera des projets ayant une véritable valeur ajoutée européenne comme la réinstallation ou servira à répondre à des besoins urgents et à orienter les financements d’urgence vers les États membres au moment et à l’endroit où ils en ont besoin.

      Le Fonds consacrera 6,3 milliards d’euros (60 %) à des financements de long terme destinés à soutenir les États membres en matière de gestion des migrations.

      Dans ce cadre sont prévus une dotation initiale accordée aux États membres (50 % de l’intégralité du Fonds, soit 5,2 milliards d’euros) et un ajustement à mi-parcours pour tenir compte de pressions nouvelles ou supplémentaires (10 %, soit 1,1 milliard d’euros).

      Chaque État membre recevra une somme forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros, tandis que le solde sera réparti en fonction de la pression migratoire et des besoins des États membres dans les domaines de l’asile (30 %), de l’intégration et de la migration régulière (30 %) et de la lutte contre l’immigration illégale et du retour (40 %).

      Comment les dotations nationales seront-elles calculées ? Pourquoi n’est-il pas possible de fournir dès à présent la ventilation par État membre ?

      Les financements alloués aux États membres reflèteront précisément les besoins de chacun. Au début de la période de programmation, chaque État membre recevra un montant forfaitaire de 5 millions d’euros. Au-delà, leurs dotations respectives seront calculées sur la base d’une évaluation des besoins les plus pressants. Le solde sera réparti en fonction de la pression migratoire et des besoins des États membres en matière d’asile. Pour chaque État membre, cette évaluation tiendra compte :

      pour l’asile (pondération de 30 %) : du nombre de bénéficiaires reconnus d’une protection internationale (30 %), de demandeurs d’asile (60 %) et de personnes réinstallées (10 %) ;
      pour la migration légale et l’intégration (pondération de 30 %) : du nombre de ressortissants de pays tiers en séjour régulier (40 %) et du nombre de ressortissants de pays tiers qui ont obtenu un premier permis de séjour (les travailleurs saisonniers, les étudiants et les chercheurs ne relèvent pas de cette catégorie) ;
      pour le retour (pondération de 40 %) : du nombre de ressortissants de pays tiers en séjour irrégulier qui ont fait l’objet d’une décision de retour (50 %) et du nombre de retours effectivement réalisés (50 %).

      Les calculs seront basés sur des données statistiques recueillies par Eurostat au cours des trois années civiles précédant l’entrée en application du nouveau budget.

      Étant donné que le prochain budget à long terme doit couvrir une période s’ouvrant en 2021, il n’est possible de prédire dès à présent ce que montreront des données futures. Une ventilation basée sur les données d’aujourd’hui donnerait une image biaisée, ne correspondant pas à ce que seront les dotations effectives.

      Quelles sont les mesures qui ont été prises au titre des Fonds actuels pour soutenir les États membres au cours de la crise migratoire ?

      Dans l’ensemble, l’actuel Fonds « Asile, migration et intégration » (FAMII) a soutenu efficacement et avec succès la réponse commune apportée par l’Union à l’aggravation des problèmes de migration et de sécurité, tout en envoyant également un message de solidarité aux États membres situés en première ligne. Par ailleurs, face à la crise migratoire, aux difficultés accrues sur le plan de la sécurité et à un environnement politique en perpétuelle évolution, la Commission a dû recourir à une multitude de modalités financières ad hoc pour appuyer une réponse commune et adéquate de l’UE, et ce d’autant plus que les mécanismes et réserves de flexibilité ont été créés à une époque où les flux migratoires étaient stables.

      Les augmentations budgétaires réalisées jusqu’au milieu de la période de financement actuelle 2014-2020 ont clairement prouvé que les moyens budgétaires avaient atteint leurs limites. La dotation du Fonds « Asile, migration et intégration » a plus que doublé (+ 123 %), les financements destinés aux organismes décentralisés pratiquement doublé (+ 86 %), et l’aide d’urgence augmenté de près de 500 %. Outre des instruments de financement de l’Union, dont certains devaient être modifiés pour être utilisés à l’intérieur de l’Union (notamment l’instrument d’aide d’urgence), l’Union a dû mettre en place des solutions de financement innovantes comme les Fonds fiduciaires pour mobiliser des financements au-delà des limites du cadre financier.

      L’expérience acquise avec l’actuel cadre financier fait apparaître un besoin évident de montants de financement considérablement accrus et d’une plus grande souplesse, de manière à garantir une gestion budgétaire saine et prévisible.

      Qu’en est-il de l’intégration qui figurant dans le Fonds précédent ?

      La Commission propose de donner un nouvel élan au soutien aux politiques d’intégration au titre du prochain budget à long terme en associant la force de frappe de plusieurs instruments de financement.

      Au titre du Fonds « Asile et migration », le soutien à l’intégration se concentrera sur les mesures d’intégration rapide et aura pour objectif d’apporter une aide lors des premières étapes clés de l’intégration comme les cours de langue, tout en soutenant également le renforcement des capacités des autorités chargées de la politique d’intégration, les guichets uniques d’information pour les migrants en séjour régulier récemment arrivés et les échanges entre les migrants en séjour régulier récemment arrivés et les membres de la communauté d’accueil.

      L’intégration à plus long terme bénéficiera d’un soutien au titre des Fonds de cohésion de l’UE, en particulier le futur Fonds social européen + et le futur Fonds européen de développement régional. Ces mesures d’intégration à long terme incluront des mesures d’appui structurel comme la formation professionnelle, l’éducation et le logement.

      Y aura-t-il des financements à la réinstallation ?

      Oui. La Commission propose que les États membres reçoivent 10 000 euros par personne réinstallée, comme dans le cadre des actuels programmes de réinstallation de l’UE.

      Comment les politiques de retour seront-elles soutenues ?

      Des retours effectifs sont une composante essentielle d’une politique migratoire de l’UE qui soit équitable et humaine, mais aussi – et c’est tout aussi important – viable. Le Fonds aidera à combattre la migration irrégulière, en garantissant la pérennité du retour et la réadmission effective dans les pays tiers. Comme pour toutes les politiques de l’UE, cela se fera dans le plein respect des droits fondamentaux et de la dignité des personnes faisant l’objet d’une mesure de retour.

      Seront soutenus : la mise en œuvre des retours ; le renforcement des infrastructures de retour et des capacités de rétention ; le développement de la coopération avec les pays d’origine, afin de faciliter la conclusion d’accords de réadmission, assortis de modalités pratiques, et leur mise en œuvre ; et la réintégration. Le Fonds soutiendra également les mesures visant d’abord à prévenir la migration irrégulière (campagnes d’information, collecte de données, suivi des flux et des routes migratoires, etc.).

      Quel est le lien avec la gestion des flux migratoires externes ?

      Les dimensions interne et externe à l’UE de la gestion des migrations sont étroitement liées. Le Fonds « Asile et migration » sera à même de soutenir la dimension externe des politiques internes de l’Union.

      Ce soutien sera largement complété par les fonds alloués, au titre de la politique extérieure de l’Union, à la lutte contre la dimension extérieure de la migration irrégulière, et notamment aux efforts déployés pour remédier à ses causes profondes, améliorer les perspectives d’avenir qu’offrent les pays d’origine et développer la coopération en matière de retour, de réadmission et de migration légale (voir les propositions sectorielles distinctes qui seront présentées dans les jours à venir).

      Les autorités locales et les organisations de la société civile pourront-elles également bénéficier de financements du Fonds ?

      La Commission considère que les administrations locales et régionales et la société civile jouent un rôle fondamental, notamment en matière d’intégration, et devraient en conséquence recevoir autant de soutien que possible.

      C’est pourquoi, alors que les fonds allaient jusqu’à présent aux autorités nationales en couverture de 75 % des coûts d’une mesure (taux de cofinancement), à l’avenir, lorsque des régions, des municipalités ou des organisations de la société civile mettront en œuvre semblables mesures, le budget de l’UE couvrira 90 % des coûts.

      Pourquoi des financements au nouveau système de Dublin sont-ils prévus au titre du FAMI, alors qu’il n’y a pas encore eu d’accord à ce sujet ?

      La proposition relative au FAMI prévoit d’ores et déjà un soutien au transfert des demandeurs d’asile en application du règlement de Dublin tel qu’il est proposé de le réformer. Les financements couvriraient les mesures de premier accueil et d’assistance de base, l’aide à l’intégration si le demandeur reçoit un statut de protection et l’aide aux personnes qui devraient faire l’objet d’une mesure de retour au cas où elles n’obtiendraient pas de protection ou de droit de séjour.

      La proposition reflète le règlement de Dublin en l’état actuel des négociations, mais elle sera adaptée en fonction du résultat final de ces négociations.

      Comment le suivi des fonds alloués à la gestion des frontières et des migrations sera-t-il assuré ?

      La Commission suivra la mise en œuvre des actions en gestion directe et indirecte. Pour les fonds dont la gestion est partagée entre l’UE et les États membres, la responsabilité première d’assurer le suivi des projets financés par l’UE incombera à ces derniers. Les autorités administrant les fonds de l’UE dans les États membres doivent mettre en place des systèmes de gestion et de contrôle satisfaisant aux exigences de l’UE, y compris en matière de suivi. Le suivi des actions faisant l’objet d’une gestion partagée sera assuré par chaque État membre, dans le cadre d’un système de gestion et de contrôle conforme au droit de l’UE (règlement portant dispositions communes). Une priorité nouvelle sera accordée à la réalisation d’évaluations régulières selon des indicateurs de performance (les États membres devront communiquer des données pour chaque programme, jusqu’à six fois par an).

      Les États membres devront également communiquer un rapport annuel de performance, fournissant des informations sur l’état de mise en œuvre du programme et indiquant si les valeurs intermédiaires et les valeurs cibles ont été atteintes. Une réunion de réexamen sera organisée tous les deux ans entre la Commission et chaque État membre pour apprécier la performance de chaque programme. À la fin de la période, chaque État membre présentera un rapport de performance final.

      http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-4127_fr.htm

    • LE VERE RAGIONI DELL’IMMIGRAZIONE AFRICANA : IL FURTO DELLA TERRA

      L’Unione europea ha appena deciso di triplicare i fondi per la gestione dei migranti: la somma messa a bilancio passerà dagli attuali 13 miliardi di euro (anni 2014-2021) ai futuri 35 miliardi di euro (anni 2021-2027).
      Prima di compiere l’analisi dei costi preventivati, dove i soldi vanno, per fare cosa, dobbiamo sapere cosa noi prendiamo dall’Africa, e cosa restituiamo all’Africa. Se noi aiutiamo loro oppure se loro, magari, danno una mano a noi.
      Conviene ripetere e magari ripubblicare. Quindi partire dalle basi, dai luoghi in cui i migranti partono.

      https://raiawadunia.com/le-vere-ragioni-dellimmigrazione-africana-il-furto-della-terra
      #land_grabbing #accaparement_de_terres

    • UE- #JAI : course effrénée au renforcement de Frontex au détriment des #droits_fondamentaux Featured

      Le 12 octobre, les #Conseil_Justice_et_Affaires_Intérieurs discutera de la nouvelle proposition de #réforme de Frontex, l’#agence_européenne_des_garde-côtes_et_garde-frontières, deux ans après la dernière révision du mandat en 2016. Peu importe les critiques relatives aux violations des droits inhérentes à ses activités : l’agence est en passe d’acquérir des #compétences_exécutives ainsi qu’un rôle accru pour expulser depuis les Etats membres et depuis les Etats non européens.

      Le collectif Frontexit réitère ses très fortes préoccupations quant à cette énième réforme et appelle le Etats membres et les parlementaires européens à refuser cette course législative symbole d’une obsession du contrôle des frontières au détriment des droits des personnes migrantes.

      La Commission européenne propose de porter le #personnel de Frontex à 10’000 hommes d’ici 2020 et son #budget à 1,3 milliards pour la période 2019/2020, soit une augmentation de plus de 6000% du budget prévisionnel en à peine 12 ans. L’agence jouera un rôle central et inédit dans la préparation des décisions de retour depuis les Etats-membres et dans la conduite des #expulsions entre/depuis des pays « tiers » sans prérogatives claires.

      Face au doublement du nombre de personnes expulsées depuis l’UE entre 2015 et 2017, au vu des mécanismes de contrôle politiques faibles, voire inexistants (aucune activité hors UE sous contrôle du Parlement européen) et des réponses aux violations des droits ineffectives et inefficaces, cette réforme mettra davantage en danger les personnes migrantes et affaiblira leurs maigres droits.

      L’UE poursuit une course effrénée au renforcement de Frontex alors qu’aucune étude d’impact de ses activités actuelles sur les droits fondamentaux n’a été réalisée. Il est urgent que les parlementaires européens exercent un droit de contrôle sur les activités de Frontex y compris hors de l’UE (déploiement croissant de l’agence en Afrique par exemple), de l’arsenal à sa disposition (#EUROSUR compris) et de leurs conséquences.

      Aucune justification tangible n’existe pour cette énième révision du mandat, si ce n’est – aux dires de l’UE – l’urgence de la situation. Pourtant, cette urgence n’existe pas (le nombre d’arrivées a été divisé par cinq depuis 2015 selon l’OIM), pas plus que la soi-disant « crise migratoire ». L’effondrement du nombre des arrivées est directement imputable à l’augmentation des dispositifs sécuritaires aux frontières et à la coopération sans limite avec des pays où les violations des droits sont légion.

      Frontex, prompte à qualifier de « passeurs » des pêcheurs tunisiens qui sauvent des vies, prompte à collaborer voire dispenser des formations à des Etats où les violations des droits sont documentées, est à l’image d’une Europe qui s’enfonce dans une logique toujours plus sécuritaire au détriment des droits des personnes exilées, mais également de leurs soutiens.

      Cette #fermeture_des_frontières est également une menace pour le respect des droits des personnes qui se voient obligées d’exercer leur droit à quitter tout pays par des voies toujours plus dangereuses.

      http://www.frontexit.org/fr/actus/item/904-ue-jai-course-effrenee-au-renforcement-de-frontex-au-detriment-des-dr
      #droits_humains

    • NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights

      The Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights has expressed “serious concerns about the effectiveness of Frontex’s serious incident reporting mechanism,” saying that it should be revised and that the border agency must “take additional measures to set up an effective system to monitor respect for fundamental rights in the context of its activities.”

      The inadequacy of the serious incident reporting (SIR) mechanism is raised in the latest annual report of the Consultative Forum (http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/eu-frontex-consultative-forum-annual-report-2018.pdf), which is made up of nine civil society organisations, two EU agencies and four UN agencies and other intergovernmental bodies. It was established in October 2012 to provide independent advice to the agency on fundamental rights.

      Its report notes that during 2018, Frontex “only received 3 serious incident reports for alleged violations of fundamental rights and 10 complaints,” described by as an “almost negligible number” given that the agency has some 1,500 officers deployed at the external borders of the EU.

      Fundamental rights violations

      The Consultative Forum highlights “fundamental rights violations in areas where the Agency is operational, including the Hungarian-Serbian and the Greek-Turkish land borders.”

      For example, interviews by Human Rights Watch with asylum seekers in Greece and Turkey found that:

      “Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants… The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.” (https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/18/greece-violent-pushbacks-turkey-border)

      This is simply the latest in a long line of reports and investigations documenting mistreatment and abuse at the Greek-Turkish border, where The Christian Science Monitor also heard allegations that Frontex was directly involved in pushback operations (https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2018/1221/Are-Greek-and-EU-officials-illegally-deporting-migrants-to-Turkey).

      The Consultative Forum’s report also points to numerous instances of collective expulsion from Croatia to Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina; ill-treatment at the Bulgarian-Turkish border; and what the Hungarian Helsinki Committee refers to as “systemic violations of asylum-seekers’ human rights in Hungary.” (https://www.osce.org/odihr/396917?download=true)

      Repeat: suspend activities at Hungary-Serbia border

      In its report, the Consultative Forum repeats a recommendation it has made previously: until fundamental rights can be guaranteed, the Executive Director should use the powers available under the 2016 Frontex Regulation to “suspend operational activities” at the Hungarian-Serbian border.

      The agency offers little obvious information about its activities at that border on its website (https://frontex.europa.eu/along-eu-borders/main-operations/operations-in-the-western-balkans), merely stating that it “deploys specialised officers and border surveillance vehicles and other equipment” in both Hungary and Croatia, where its officers “assist the national authorities in the detection of forged documents, stolen cars, illegal drugs and weapons.”

      The December 2018 report by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee cited above doesn’t mention Frontex, but details serious malpractice by the Hungarian state: immediate pushbacks that negate the right to seek asylum; a lack of procedural safeguards for those that do manage to claim asylum; and a lack of state support to integrate and assist those that receive protection.

      Lack of staff “seriously undermining” fundamental rights obligations

      The Consultative Forum’s report also repeats a longstanding complaint that the inadequate provision of staff to the agency’s Fundamental Rights Officer is “seriously undermining the fulfilment” of their mandate “and, more generally Frontex’s capacity to fulfil its fundamental rights obligations”.

      According to the report, while there were 58 posts for administrators foreseen in the agency’s recruitment plan for 2018, not a single one was allocated to the Fundamental Rights Officer.

      Furthermore, “during the year, only three Senior Assistants… joined the Fundamental Rights Office,” and its work “continues to be compromised in areas such as monitoring of operations, handling of complaints, provision of advice on training, risk analysis, third country cooperation and return activities” - in short, those areas of the agency’s work raising the most high-profile fundamental rights concerns.

      Independence of Fundamental Rights Office at risk

      The report also warns that the independence of the Fundamental Rights Office is at risk.

      The problem centres on the appointment of an Advisor in the Executive Director’s Cabinet as interim replacement for the Fundamental Rights Officer, who in the second half of 2018 “took an extended period of sick leave”.

      The Consultative Forum has “noted that the appointment of a member of the Executive Director’s cabinet as Fundamental Rights Officer ad interim raises issues under the EBCG [Frontex] Regulation.”

      In particular, the “previous and future reporting expectations on the incumbent in relation to the Executive Director” make it:

      “difficult… to ensure that the Fundamental Rights Officer ad interim and the Fundamental Rights Officer’s team maintain their independence in the performance of their duties and avoid potential conflicts of interest.”

      A long list of issues

      The report also examines a number of other issues concerning fundamental rights and the agency’s work, including the ongoing amendments to its governing legislation; the treatment of stateless persons in Frontex operations; “gender mainstreaming at Frontex”; and the need for a revision of the Fundamental Rights Strategy, amongst other things.

      Full report: Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights: Sixth annual report (http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/eu-frontex-consultative-forum-annual-report-2018.pdf)

      Further reading

      Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations (Statewatch News Online, 21 May 2018: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/may/eu-frontex-fr-rep.htm)

      http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/fx-consultative-forum-rep.htm