Council authorises the opening of negotiations with four Western Balkans partners on Frontex
The Council decided to authorise the opening of negotiations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia to broaden agreements on Frontex cooperation.
Migration challenges in the Western Balkans route don’t start at the EU borders. Cooperation with our partners, including through the deployment of Frontex staff, is essential to detect and block irregular migration movements early on. This will improve the protection of our EU external borders and contribute to efforts by countries in the Western Balkans to stop smugglers from using their territories as transit stages.Vít Rakušan, Minister of the Interior of Czech Republic
The EU had already concluded agreements with Albania, Montenegro and Serbia under the previous Frontex mandate, however they only allowed the agency to carry out joint operations and deploy teams in the regions of those countries bordering the EU. An agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina had also been negotiated under similar terms but had not yet been signed.
Agreements negotiated under the new Frontex mandate will allow the agency to assist these countries in their efforts to manage migratory flows, counter illegal immigration and tackle crossborder crime throughout their territory. New agreements will also allow Frontex staff to exercise executive powers, such as border checks and registration of persons.
On the basis of these mandates, the Commission will now be able to start negotiations with the four countries.
A first agreement on border management cooperation was concluded with Albania in 2019. Following this, Frontex launched the first-ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country in Albania on 22 May 2019.
Status agreements with Montenegro and Serbia were concluded in May 2020. A similar agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina was under negotiation.
On 17 March 2022 the EU and Moldova signed a status agreement on border management cooperation, the first to be signed under the new Frontex mandate. An agreement with North Macedonia was signed on 26 October 2022.