Thursday, 7 April 2011

EASO in Frontex's Fundamental Rights Strategy

On 4th April, Frontex issued a press statement announcing the Agency’s Fundamental Rights Strategy. According to the statement, the strategy - to be elaborated into an Action Plan by May 24 - is the product of a consultative process that saw Frontex exchanging views with the MS, IOM, UNHCR & the FRA. EASO was not part of this consultative process, probably due to its timing.

Yet is it mentioned in the Strategy’s 21st & 35th points:

“21. In addition to pursuing a regular exchange of information with external partners engaged in fundamental rights protection activities, in particular the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Frontex will endeavour to ensure their regular involvement in the relevant operational activities in accordance with the Working Arrangements with these partners. The involvement of these external partners or others should be foreseen in the Operational Plan, which should also define the scope of the cooperation...

...35. Another conditio sine qua non for an effective implementation is the support by Frontex’ external partners in particular FRA, EASO, UNHCR, IOM and other EU bodies and International Organisations to be provided in the context of mutually beneficial cooperation. This starts by fully acknowledging and respecting the mandate of all parties involved: external partners, national border-guard services and Frontex.”

Despite these limited references to EASO and despite the several human rights queries the document raises (see Migrants at Sea post for the broader perspective), this Strategy out to be considered in the light of on-going discussions to amend Frontex’s Regulation. Recently, the EP’s LIBE Committee approved the proposals they are now taking to the Council for negotiations, proposals that could eventually lead to a shift in Frontex’s relations with both EASO & Fundamental Rights.

In the coming days I’ll be posting further details on LIBE’s proposals, also highlighting how they vary from those presented by the Commission.

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