Frontex Macedonia Agreement
Bulgaria is the only country to block the signing of a major border management agreement between Northern Macedonia and the European border management agency Frontex, the obstacle being the way the neighbouring country designates its language, writes Dnevnik, partner of EURACTIV Bulgaria, citing a Commission spokesperson. The status agreements give Frontex the mandate to help neighbouring third countries manage their borders, including through operational engagement and the deployment of personnel to the regions of Montenegro bordering the EU, provided Montenegro authorizes such missions. The agreement between the EU and Montenegro will be concluded as soon as the European Parliament agrees. Typical status agreements for „priority third countries“ In addition to Albania, where the first mission was launched in May as part of the agreement, and Montenegro, agreements with Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are about to be concluded. The Commission`s press release states that „cooperation with third countries is an important part of the European approach to integrated border management. This approach is implemented through a four-step access model including the following measures in third countries, measures with neighbouring third countries, border control measures and measures taken within the Schengen area.“ However, this rapprochement should be hampered by the French government`s decision to reject EU accession negotiations in northern Macedonia and Albania, despite the necessary conditions. The Northern Macedonian Parliament could therefore delay the draft Frontex agreement. The same goes for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has called French President Macron a „ticking time bomb“ for returning jihadists. Frontex has already signed such agreements with Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. A similar agreement has been signed with Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has not yet been concluded. Previously, ECRE had expressed concern about the potentially broad powers granted to Frontex team members under status agreements. These could be used to prevent irregular migration to the EU beyond the EU`s physical borders, without independent supervision.
The agreement allows Frontex to conduct joint operations and send teams to border regions to combat illegal immigration, particularly in cases of sudden changes in migration flows and cross-border crime, and, where appropriate, to provide technical and operational assistance to national border forces. The negotiations with Serbia were followed by a standard operational cooperation agreement with the `priority third countries` approved by the Commission under the `European Migration Programme`. A year ago, the Commission concluded for the first time a status agreement with Albania, followed by a similar agreement with Montenegro on 7 October this year. Other status agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Macedonia have been negotiated, but have yet to be ratified by national parliaments. The European Parliament must also give its approval. SOFIA – Bulgaria is the only country to block the signing of a border management agreement between Northern Macedonia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex – reports EURACTIV. After the conclusion of the stature agreement with Albania, it took Frontex six months to launch its „first joint operation“ on the territory of a neighbouring third country. According to Frontex, the governments of Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland and Slovenia sent personnel for a total of 16 patrol vehicles and one thermal vehicle.