The Activities of Frontex on the Territory of Third Countries: Outsourcing Border Controls Without Human Rights Limits?

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard. – III. The enhancement of the Agency’s mandate. – III.1. The conferral of executive powers on the Agency’s staff. - III.2. The emergence of a supervisory role. – IV. Cooperation with third countries in the framework of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation. – V. The implications of the extraterritorial Frontex joint operations. – V.1. The deployment of border management teams on the territory of third countries. – V.2. The delimitation of responsibilities between the actors involved in the operations. – V.3. Redress in case of fundamental rights breaches. – VI. Conclusions.

Abstract: The aim of this Article is to examine the role played by Frontex in the process of externalisation of EU migration policies. It is not surprising that the external dimension of Frontex’s powers has been reinforced in the successive reforms of its legal framework. There is a common agreement between Member States on the need to intensify international cooperation with third countries in order to face current challenges in the area of migration. The deployment of border management teams on the territory of third countries raises complex legal and political questions as regards the legal regimen applicable and the delimitation of responsibilities between the different actors involved in the extraterritorial operations. The allegations of fundamental rights violations in which Frontex was reportedly involved in the Aegean Sea show that it will be very difficult to clarify the role of Frontex in any wrongdoing that will happen in the context of operations implemented on the territory of third countries.

Keywords: externalisation of migration policies – EU agencies – cooperation between Frontex and third countries – status agreements – fundamental rights – management of borders.

European Papers, Vol. 8, 2023, No 2, pp. 985-1011
ISSN 2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/697

* Professor of Public International Law and European Law, University of Salamanca,


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