Frontex and North Macedonia: MEPs support agreement on operational cooperation

Frontex and North Macedonia: MEPs support agreement on operational cooperation

On Wednesday, Parliament gave the greenlight to Frontex operational support for the Republic of North Macedonia on border management.

MEPs gave consent, with 511 votes in favour, 104 against and 20 abstentions, to the conclusion of an international agreement between the EU and Republic of North Macedonia on operational activities carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex).

This agreement provides a legal framework to deploy teams from Frontex standing corps in order to support the North Macedonian authorities in the border management activities and respond to the migratory and security challenges along Western Balkan route (latest Frontex figures available here).

According to the agreement, joint operational activities are launched on the request of the authorities of North Macedonia and are based on an operational plan. The staff have to fully respect fundamental rights, including access to asylum procedures and human dignity, and pay particular attention to vulnerable groups. The Frontex’ fundamental rights officer will monitor the operational activities and may carry on-the-spot visits. Moreover at least one fundamental rights officer will be assigned to each operational activity.

Following the vote the rapporteur Lena Düpont (EPP, DE) made the following statement : “With the consent and thus the deployment of Frontex officers on the ground, we are not only further strengthening our cooperation with North Macedonia, we are also closing an important gap in our management of migratory flows at the western Balkan route. The decision today is another mosaic for the proper functioning of a European asylum and migration policy.“

The legal status of Frontex operational activities in non-EU countries involving border management teams where the members of the teams will exercise executive powers, is formalised in a status agreement, as provided by the 2019 update of EBCG regulation. It includes provisions on the scope of the operation, the tasks and powers of the members of the teams, incidents reporting, privileges and immunities, fundamental rights and data protection. The agreement requires the Parliament’s consent, before the procedure is concluded on behalf of the EU. The first agreement on the basis of the 2019 updated Frontex mandate was concluded by the EU in 2022 with Moldova.

The agreement will formally enter into force on the first day of the second month after the EU and the Republic of North Macedonia have notified the completion of internal ratifcation procedures.


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