Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), commonly called Frontex (from French: Frontières extérieures for “external borders”), is an agency of the European Union headquartered in Warsaw, Poland, tasked with border control of the European Schengen Area, in coordination with the border and coast guards of Schengen Area member states.
Mission and Tasks of the Agency
The mission of Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – is to promote, coordinate and develop European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter and the concept of Integrated Border Management.
Apart from Frontex’s specific mandate tasks such as:
- monitoring migratory flows and carrying out risk analysis regarding all aspects of integrated border management,
- carrying out a vulnerability assessment,
- monitoring the management of the external borders,
- coordinating and organising joint operations and rapid border interventions to assist Member States at the external borders,
- supporting search and rescue operations,
- deploying European Border and Coast Guard teams, including a rapid reaction pool for joint operations and rapid border interventions,
- creating a technical equipment pool,
- providing support at hotspot areas with screening, debriefing, identification and fingerprinting,
- supporting the development of technical standards for equipment,
- deploying equipment, border guards and other staff from the rapid reaction pool, assisting Member States in fulfilling their return obligations,
- fighting organised cross-border crime and terrorism at the external borders by supporting Member States in cooperation with Europol and Eurojust,
- setting up pools of forced-return monitors, forced-return escorts and return specialists,
- setting up and deploying return intervention teams during return interventions,
- developing and operating information systems,
- assisting in the development and operation of EUROSUR and the development of a common information-sharing environment,
- supporting Member States’ coast guard authorities through cooperation with the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency; providing services, information, equipment and training, and coordinating multipurpose operations,
- assisting technical and operational cooperation between Member States and third countries.
Frontex also promotes training as one of its core tasks resides in supporting the training of Member States’ border guards, other relevant staff and experts, including the establishment of common training standards as well as participating in research and innovation activities.
Every country has its own border security needs. While sea borders are the focus of islands like Cyprus and Malta, other countries, such as Austria, have no sea border but are surrounded by land borders. Similarly, the systems and structures each country uses vary enormously — some have specialist border guards, while others use police units or other authorities for border control. Hence, each EU Member State has its own training solutions. In order for the border authorities of all these countries to work together to the same standards, common grounds need to be established, and this is where Frontex comes in.
Frontex vision is to represent excellence in border guard education and training, promoting the development of a common European border guard culture with high professional and ethical standards. This is achieved by supporting capacity building in Member States and Partner Countries, and by developing and implementing harmonised, learner-centred and cost-effective training products, based on the implementation of an integrated border management approach.
Frontex training activities are carried out on the basis of regular activities and training projects which are designed through joint efforts of Frontex and experts from Member States, supported by other EU Agencies and international organisations. Courses are mainly targeted towards trainers who can train other border guards in their country, in their own language. Standardised results are ensured through the use of Frontex training tools and through guidelines given to multiplier trainers. With this approach, all border guard officers can be trained in the same training standards in their mother tongue.
Frontex target learners are European law enforcement officers with Border Guard function at all levels. Frontex has developed and supported the national implementation of the common standards for border guard basic education (CCC). The organisation delivers standardized courses for mid-level border guards (MLC), and provides a wide range of specialized further training courses (stolen vehicles, false documents, training for Schengen evaluators, interviewing officers etc). It also delivers “operational” training programmes designed to ensure harmonized performance and a high level of interoperability in joint operations and common missions at EU borders.
The training activities aim at building capacities in four main areas:
- Educational Standards
- European Border Guard Team (EBGT) Training
- Thematic Training Support
- Training infrastructures and networks
Frontex uses different training approaches: training sessions e.g. face-to-face, blended or online, self-directed learning e.g. eLearning tools and mobility/exchange programmes. Education and training for border guards in the Member States are aligned to the Bologna and Copenhagen principles and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF).