Oct 09

The five agreements allow the Agency to carry out joint actions and emergency operations on border security issues at states` borders, provided that these borders are linked to those of one or more EU Member States. Frontex can also help these countries to be deported from EU Member States to these countries. But back to 2016. Article 54(4) provided that status agreements “all aspects necessary for the implementation of the measures …” , in particular the scale of operations, the tasks and powers of the members of the team, matters of civil and criminal liability and guarantees of fundamental rights. The Commission`s model status agreement was more detailed, as it included the types of operations to be carried out in third countries, the operational plan, the conditions for the exercise of executive powers, including the use of force, the privileges and immunities of team members, the suspension/cessation of operations and the settlement of disputes. Therefore, Frontex`s status agreements are very similar to the status-of-forces agreements (SAAs) and status-of-missions (SOMA) that the EU concludes in the context of its military operations and civilian missions in third countries. It is interesting to note that the Commission has extended the scope of the status agreements to return operations from Member States to the third country concerned. Such operations have probably gone beyond the scope of Article 54(1). 3, since they do not in themselves take place at the border between a Member State and a neighbouring third country and do not require a contingency plan either. Green MEPs who voted against the status agreements with Serbia and Montenegro highlighted the dilemma of weighing the potential benefits of frontex agents bound by fundamental rights obligations against the ideological and practical implications of outsourcing EU border controls. Force may be used only with the agreement of the home Member State and the third country, in the presence of the competent personnel of a third country and in accordance with its applicable law. Here, too, it is possible to derogate from the general rule, since team members may be allowed to use force where there are no competent personnel from a third country; However, none of the agreements provides for any other conditions, restrictions or procedural details concerning this derogation.

Article 7 of the status agreements with Serbia and Montenegro grants the members of the Frontex team immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of those States for “acts committed during and for the purpose of their official duties in the context of operations carried out in accordance with the operational plan”. It is for the Executive Director to decide whether or not an act has been committed in the course of Frontex`s activities. The agreements must now be voted on in a plenary session of Parliament. This vote was scheduled to take place today, 11 March, but has been postponed to a later date. Parliament has shortened its plenary session in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus. In accordance with Article 54(4) of Regulation (EU) 2016/1624, the Union is to conclude a status agreement with the third country concerned where it is provided for teams to be sent to a third country for which the members of the team have implementing powers or where other measures in third countries so require. Õ Article 10 defines what to do in the event of a dispute concerning the interpretation of the agreement; Frontex`s status agreements have a short and rather unsuccessful past, but they certainly have a future. The agreements concluded with the western Balkan countries open a new stage of the BEIM by extending territorially the operations coordinated by Frontex to the territories of third countries. But this revolutionary evolution raises fundamental questions and challenges, as current practice already shows.

While, when negotiating an agreement of stature with a neighbouring third country, the Commission will use, on behalf of the European Union, the attached model status agreement, it should be noted that the final texts of such agreements will differ depending on the outcome of negotiations with the third country. . . .

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