Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Serbia on border management cooperation between Serbia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland and President of the Council and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and on behalf of the Republic of Serbia by Nebojša Stefanović, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.
“Cooperation with our partners in the Western Balkans is essential to ensure the successful management of our common borders. Through this agreement Frontex will be able to coordinate operational cooperation between EU member states and Serbia, and provide support and expertise which will bring benefits for all”, says Minister Ohisalo.
“I would like to thank Serbia for its efforts and commitment to ensure closer cooperation with the EU on border and migration management. This is in the interest of both Serbia and the EU. With the agreement signed today, we are further strengthening our relations with Western Balkan partners, bringing this neighbourhood closer to the EU”, said Commissioner Avramopulos.
This agreement allows Frontex to assist Serbia in border management, carry out joint operations and deploy teams in the regions of Serbia that border the EU, subject to Serbia’s agreement.
These activities aim at tackling illegal immigration and cross-border crime, and can involve the provision of increased technical and operational assistance at the border.
Strengthened cooperation between priority third countries and Frontex will also contribute to further enhancing security at the EU’s external borders.
The draft decision on the conclusion of the agreement will be sent to the European Parliament, which needs to give its consent for the agreement to be concluded.
Today’s status agreement is the third such agreement to be concluded with a partner country, after similar agreements were signed with Albania in October 2018 and Montenegro in October 2019. Negotiations with Serbia were concluded in August 2018 and the draft status agreement was initialled by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović on 20 September 2018. The Council then authorised the signature of the agreement on 22 January 2019.
Similar status agreements have also been initialled with North Macedonia (July 2018) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 2019) and are pending finalisation.
Frontex launched its first-ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country in Albania on 22 May this year.
Frontex can carry out deployments and joint operations on the territory of neighbouring countries, subject to the prior conclusion of a status agreement between the European Union and the country concerned.
The European Parliament and the Council have recently adopted a new regulation to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard, following a proposal by the European Commission. This will allow for joint operations and deployments to take place in countries beyond the EU’s immediate neighbourhood.
Cooperation with third countries is an important element of the European integrated border management concept. This concept is applied through a four-tier access model which includes: measures in third countries, measures with neighbouring third countries, border control measures and measures within the Schengen area.
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