Border surveillance

27 October 2020

Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones

Large drones are heading to the skies above the Mediterranean, with both Italy and EU border agency Frontex recently agreeing multi-million euro contracts with private companies. The drones will be used for border surveillance, and in particular are like to assist with pull-backs to North Arican states.

27 February 2020

Analysis: Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders

Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

16 December 2019

Analysis: Monitoring “secondary movements” and “hotspots”: Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency

The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

30 September 2019

EU drone operations: Israeli military firm Elbit amongst maritime agency's subcontractors

Seven EU member states have been provided with drone "services" by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) since 2018, and EMSA has also "supported the [European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex] in 2018 and 2019 with surveillance along the Portuguese coast."

17 September 2018

Official evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

The European Commission has published an evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which recommends that the system be expanded for the "systematic inclusion" of all border crossing points; the monitoring of "secondary movements" of migrants within the EU; and to develop new services and better cooperate with "third parties", for example through "big data analysis" of EU databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and Europol's computer systems.

17 September 2018

Frontex tests drones for border surveillance: 6.5m for Leonardo and Israel Aerospace Industries

Frontex has recently signed two contracts for tests on border surveillance drones with the companies Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and Israel Aerospace Industries, worth €1.7 million and €4.75 million respectively.

14 March 2018

Frontex report on the functioning of Eurosur in 2017

"Since the adoption of the Eurosur Regulation, this framework has become a well-established tool for improving Member States situational awareness and increase their reaction capability at the external borders of the EU."

10 January 2018

After EU agencies jointly test maritime surveillance drones, Frontex moves on to aerostats

The use of drones and manned aircraft for maritime and border surveillance was a key focus of a recently-concluded pilot project involving Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

22 April 2017

EU: Killing by Omission

Operation Triton, facilitated by Europe’s border security agency, Frontex, began on 1 November 2014 and is mandated to enforce Italy’s maritime border. Triton replaced an earlier and much wider Italian Navy operation, Mare Nostrum, which began in October 2013 and was mandated to save migrant lives beyond Italy’s territorial waters. When EU officials decided on the more limited scope of Triton, they knew their decision would result in the drowning of numerous migrants. As one Frontex official wryly noted, “the withdrawal of naval assets from the area, if not properly planned and announced well in advance, would likely result in a higher number of fatalities.” But the European Commission turned a blind eye – leading to a spike in migrant deaths, which the authors, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani meticulously document."

13 October 2016

€67 million for maritime surveillance drones

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) wants drones, and lots of them. The agency has made more €67 million available for unmanned aircraft that will fulfil "the various maritime surveillance needs in general, including fisheries, illegal immigration, anti drug trafficking, etc." as well as "other public purposes on an emergency basis."

01 July 2016

EU leaders 'killing migrants by neglect' after cutting Mediterranean rescue missions

"EU policymakers are guilty of "killing by neglect" by cutting rescue missions in the Mediterranean - potentially costing the lives of more than 1,500 refugees, according to a report. The Italy-led search and rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, ended in October 2014 and was replaced by Triton, which deployed fewer ships and prioritised deterring migrants over rescue operations, the report says."

30 March 2016

Report on the functioning of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

A December 2015 report by Frontex on the functioning of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) provides an overview of how the system functioned from 2011, when the system launched, until November 2015. Thousands of "events" have been recorded in the system over this period and the report highlights four "operational success stories", incuding two incidents in which the system contributed to saving lives at sea.

10 March 2016

Report on implementing the 2014 rules on surveillance of external sea borders

Operations covered by the report: EPN (European Patrols Network) Hermes 2014, EPN Triton 2014 (the successor to the Italian navy's Mare Nostrum operation), Poseidon Sea 2014, JO (Joint Operation) EPN Indalo 2014, JO EPN Hera 2014.

10 May 2013

Field testing: CLOSEYE project puts drones over the Mediterranean

A multi-million euro border control project was launched in Spain at the end of April that will see drones, satellites and aerostats deployed over the southern Mediterranean in an attempt to provide the EU "with an operational and technical framework that increases situational awareness and improves the reaction capability of authorities surveying the external borders of the EU."

10 September 2012

EU: Council Decision 2010/252 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code on sea surveillance at the external borders during Frontex operations should be annulled

Council Decision 2010/252 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code on sea surveillance at the external borders during Frontex operations should be annulled, as decided by the European Court of Justice on 5 September 2012 after examining the request for annulment lodged by the European Parliament in July 2010.

Border surveillance and deaths at sea: Frontex’s invisible flights come under scrutiny

Interest in Frontex’s “Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance” activities picked up in April this year, when journalist Sergio Scandura documented the presence of Frontex-operated aircraft above the Mediterranean over the Easter weekend. Four migrant boats with approximately 280 people on board were left in distress situations for days, despite repeated calls for intervention, leading directly to “pull-backs” to Libya and deaths at sea.


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