On 16h March the LIBE Committee held a discussion on the Commission’s proposals to amend the Frontex Regulation. MEP Simon Busuttil was the Committee’s Rapporteur, and he drafted the report as the basis for the Committee’s discussion. The outcome of this Committee discussion embodies the LIBE’s position on how it believes the Frontex Regulation ought to be amended, with negotiations with the Council as the next stage in the legislative process. If the negotiations reach a positive conclusion, then the adopted text will be sent to the EP, in Plenary, for a final vote. On the Committee’s meeting site you can find the Busuttil report, and the final Committee vote.
To simplify matters, and also to see the role EASO could be given in the revised Frontex Directive, I’ve managed to get hold of an internal document that very usefully tabulates all the proposed amendments by institution. A general institutional analysis would be extremely interesting, particularly since the document captures three different ‘wish-lists’ for Frontex’s future.
Yet for the purposes of this blog, I’ll limit myself to highlighting those parts that relate to EASO:
- Increased cooperation of Frontex with other EU agencies, including Europol, FRA and EASO (page 11, with reference to recital 22; complemented at page 74 in relation to Article 13);
- Frontex shall develop a Code of Conduct to be used in all its Joint Operations, RABITs and pilot projects, and the development of this Code shall include consultation with other agencies such as FRA, EASO, UNHCR and IOM (page 28, with reference to Article 2a);
- EASO, together with UNHCR and FRA, shall advise Frontex on the content of the common training curricula it shall prepare for all its training activities with border guards (page 50, in relation to Article 5b);
- Perhaps the most interesting proposal of all is that by the EP to establish an Advisory Board on Fundamental Rights, to assist Frontex in its activities and to monitor the adherence of Frontex to EU fundamental rights in all its activities. The proposal says that the Board shall be composed of representatives of EASO, FRA, UNHCR and “other relevant organisations” (page 86 in relation to a new article 26a). It should be noted that this idea was not originally included in the Busuttil report, but added during the discussion by way of an additional amendment.
The final set of amendments as presented by the LIBE Committee to the Council for negotiations seem to be an attempt to create a more transparent agency that should be held accountable for its activities, particularly vis-á-vis respect for fundamental rights. Yet the toughest hurdle will definitely be the Council negotiations, with the probability of the MS opting to maintain - as far as possible - the status quo, with Frontex having little decision-making power in the final operational arrangements in its Joint Operations and being unable to resolve or even mediate in long-standing disputes between MS on allocation of maritime rescue and disembarkation responsibilities.
We’ll be eagerly awaiting the outcome of the negotiations.