Frontex is the EU agency charged with patrolling the EU’s exterior borders, and today it was beefed up with more powers as Brussels tries to staunch the flow of illegal immigration.
But the improved capacities, resources, and powers given to Frontex come with a warning: do not overstep your authority, respect migrant’s human rights, and do not automatically send suspected vulnerable individuals back says EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström;
“It has to be very clear in all operations where Frontex is involved (and that’s the only thing I can influence for the moment), that the responsibility of this (for a Frontex mission) has to be sorted out in advance.”
The new policy includes fines for member states unwilling to share the burden in dealing with immigration that frontier states like Italy and Greece say falls unfairly on them.
“The Commission proposal will not solve the problem in relation to the protection of asylumn seekers and potential refugees in the high seas, and in the territory of third African countries, while it is clear that this initiative might strengthen Frontex capacities and ideally Southern Mediterranean Member States capacities,” says Sergio Carrera of the CEPS agency.
The EU can only do so much. Transit nations also have to ensure immigrants are not ill-treated during their stay, that those sent back are not punished, and must do more to end the business of people trafficking before the migrants reach Europe.