Frontex director says EU could take part in border security in Arab countries
EU border security agency to operate in home countries of immigrants
Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency, plans to start monitoring flows of immigrants in areas where they embark toward Europe.
A decision which was passed by the European Parliament earlier this year, authorising Frontex to operate outside the EU itself, came into effect on Tuesday. Frontex is now authorised to send experts to help the new administrations that have taken over in a number of Arab countries.
“We could create a completely new border security system for Libya, for instance, said Ilkka Laitinen, the Finnish Executive Director of Frontex in Helsinki on Tuesday.
Frontex can offer training, and it can lend equipment, but it cannot set up its own border security forces. It also cannot establish its own direct relations with third countries: any such contacts need to take place within the framework of the EU’s external relations policy.
Frontex has access to a pool of about 1,000 specialists in border security which were appointed by the member states.
Finland has an important role in Frontex activities.
The expanded role of Frontex is a key strategic change in the operations of the agency, which was founded in 2004. The change has come under much criticism.
In November, the International Red Cross issued a statement sharply criticising Frontex for its expanded operations. The Red Cross said that the further out to sea border officials supported by Frontex go to stop possible flows of immigrants, the harder it will be for refugees and asylum seekers to reach EU borders and apply for asylum.
Extending operations to countries outside the EU is just one of the new missions of Frontex. Under a measure approved by the EU, Frontex is now allowed to collect personal information for profiling and risk analysis.
However, Frontex is still barred from compiling any registers of people. It is only allowed to provide information to the border officials of member states, as well as agencies such as Europol information that it gets in connection with the work that it does on the borders.
Profiling does not extend to asylum-seekers – only to suspected criminals.
The new measures also allow Frontex to acquire equipment for use in joint border security missions.
The agency also has a new fundamental rights strategy. The aim is to develop practices related to border security in order to improve treatment of people arriving at borders. The European Parliament has called for the establishment of a fundamental rights ombudsman and a steering group to advise the agency in matters of human rights.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Head of EU border security agency calls for action by member states (21.9.2006)