In an effort to combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime on the Serbian-EU border, the EU and Serbia have entered an agreement to facilitate cooperation between Serbia and the European Border and Coast-Guard Agency (Frontex). The agreement will allow Frontex to deploy teams in the regions of Serbia that border the EU and carry out joint operations, although this is all subject to Serbia’s agreement.
The main goal of the agreement is to provide a more secure border between the EU and Serbia by fighting cross-border crime and illegal immigration, which could benefit both parties.
“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,” said Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland.
Although the main goal is added security for the EU and Serbia, another important goal and benefit of the agreement is that it will help strengthen ties between Serbia, the EU, and their neighbors.
“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 Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.
The draft of the agreement will be sent to the European Parliament. Upon receipt, it will need to be approved before it will be concluded.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by The Interior Minister of Finland Maria Ohisalo and the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, and on with the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nebojsa Stefanović.
It is important for the security of the EU’s borders that agreements with Frontex are signed with third-countries. So far, agreements have been Albania and Montenegro. Other similar agreements with Bosnia, Herzegovina, and North Macedonia have been penned but are awaiting finalization.
On 22 May 2019, the first-ever joint operation between Frontex and Albania was launched. It was the first operation on the territory of a non-EU bordering country.
Frontex will now have a broader mandate to support European Union member states particularly with border control, as per a regulation that was approved by the European Parliament last week. It also allows incorporation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) into Frontex’s framework. Frontex will also be afforded a standing corps 5,000 operational staff by 2021 and a fully operational staff of 10,000 by 2027. The standing corps will allow for adequate crisis response and management of EU eternal borders.