Once the agreement enters into force, it will allow the Agency to provide assistance in the management of the external borders and will allow the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to be rapidly deployed on Albanian territory in the event of a sudden postponement of migration flows. The Commission is currently negotiating similar agreements with Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and hopes that these two negotiations will be concluded quickly. The agreement with Albania now needs to be approved by the Member States and will be formally signed at a later date, once both sides have completed the necessary legal procedures. Once the agreement enters into force, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be able to carry out operational activities and send teams to regions bordering the EU, in agreement with the Albanian authorities and the authorities of the EU Member States bordering the area of intervention. Previously, ECRE had raised concerns about the potentially significant powers conferred on Frontex team members under status agreements. These could be used to prevent irregular migration to the EU across the EU`s physical borders, without independent oversight. Outside Albania, where the first mission was launched in May under the agreement, Montenegro have not yet signed agreements with North Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The press release on the Commission`s agreement states that « cooperation with third countries is an important element of the European approach to integrated border management. This approach is applied in the framework of a four-stage access model, including measures taken in third countries, measures with neighbouring third countries, border control measures and measures within the Schengen area. With the exception of Kosovo, Frontex also intends to conduct operations in all other third countries in the Western Balkans. A status agreement with Serbia was signed by the European Commission and the government in Belgrade on 19 November 2019. After the approval of the Council of the European Union on 26 May 2020, the implementation is « in preparation », according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The status agreement with North Macedonia has been negotiated but has not yet been signed. Negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina are ongoing.

Since its creation, Frontex has been at the forefront of the Union`s policy on the management of the external borders. During the 2015 « migration crisis », Frontex experienced a rapid and unprecedented strengthening of its powers, resources and capacities. The revisions to the 2016 and 2019 mandates probably mark a « leap forward » that is gradually transforming Frontex into a more integrated and hierarchical administrative body. One of the most spectacular developments introduced by the recent reforms concerns the territorial extension of the Agency`s activities. Frontex is now responsible for carrying out operational activities, including executive activities, in third countries. This blog post first outlines the successive extensions of the Agency`s mandate, which allow for a wider geographical area of intervention. . . .