The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has launched an audit to examine whether the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has so far provided effective support to Member States in the implementation of European Integrated Border Management.
Today, the auditors have published an audit preview on Frontex. Audit previews provide information on an ongoing audit task. They are designed as a source of information for those interested in the policy or programmes being audited.
Frontex (from the French “frontières extérieures”) was set up in 2004 to manage operational cooperation at the EU’s external borders. Its establishment was considered a crucial step towards the development of integrated border management in the EU and its role, budget and resources have grown progressively since. After the 2015 peak in migration, its powers were bolstered and the agency effectively became the European Border and Coast Guard. Its yearly subsidy from the EU budget has grown considerably, from €137 million in 2015 to €322 million in 2020. At the same time, the European Commission gave the “new” agency the green light to recruit 1 000 people by 2020.
New rules, which entered into force in December 2019, are set to boost the agency’s powers further. They also propose to lift its budget to €11 billion for the 2021-2027 period – mainly to set up the 10 000-strong standing corps of border guards from Member States and to purchase new equipment – and increase its own staff numbers to 3 000 in the next few years.
“Frontex plays a pivotal role in achieving integrated management of the EU’s external borders and has become an important actor in migration management on the European stage,” said Leo Brincat, the ECA Member responsible for the audit. “Our audit will ascertain whether it is carrying out its tasks effectively.”
The auditors will examine whether Frontex’s primary activities support EU integrated border management effectively, in particular whether:
- its monitoring of the situation on the EU’s external borders enables swift and well-targeted responses to border incidents;
- its risk analyses and vulnerability assessments of Member States’ capacities to manage their borders are useful tools for protecting EU borders;
- its operational response contributes to the development of an EU integrated border management.
The audit report is expected to be published in 2021.