13 February 2019
A recent report by Frontex, the EU's border agency, highlights the ongoing expansion of its activities with non-EU states.
The report covers the agency's cooperation with non-EU states ("third countries") in 2017, although it was only published this month.
It notes the adoption by Frontex of an International Cooperation Strategy 2018-2020, "an integral part of our multi-annual programme" which:
"guides the Agency's interactions with third countries and international organisations… The Strategy identified the following priority regions with which Frontex strives for closer cooperation: the Western Balkans, Turkey, North and West Africa, Sub-Saharan countries and the Horn of Africa."
The Strategy can be found in Annex XIII to the 2018-20 Programming Document (pdf).
The 2017 report on cooperation with third countries further notes that Frontex is in dialogue with Senegal, Niger and Guinea with the aim of signing Working Agreements at some point in the future.
The agency deployed three Frontex Liaison Officers in 2017 - to Niger, Serbia and Turkey - while there was also a European Return Liaison Officer deployed to Ghana in 2018.
The report boasts of assisting the Commission in implementing informal agreements on return (as opposed to democratically-approved readmission agreements):
"For instance, we contributed to the development of the Standard Operating Procedures with Bangladesh and the "Good Practices for the Implementation of Return-Related Activities with the Republic of Guinea", all forming important elements of the EU return policy that was being developed and consolidated throughout 2017."
At the same time:
"The implementation of 341 Frontex coordinated and co-financed return operations by charter flights and returning 14 189 third-country nationals meant an increase in the number of return operations by 47% and increase of third-country nationals returned by 33% compared to 2016."
Those return operations included Frontex's:
"first joint return operation to Afghanistan. The operation was organised by Hungary, with Belgium and Slovenia as participating Member States, and returned a total of 22 third country nationals to Afghanistan. In order to make this operation a success, the participating Member States and Frontex needed a coordinated support of the European Commission as well as the EU Delegation and the European Return Liaison Officers Network in Afghanistan."
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