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Document 52024SC0075

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT EVALUATION Accompanying the document REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on the evaluation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 on the European Border and Coast Guard, including a review of the Standing Corps

SWD/2024/75 final

Brussels, 2.2.2024

SWD(2024) 75 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

EVALUATION

Accompanying the document

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL

on the evaluation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 on the European Border and Coast Guard, including a review of the Standing Corps

{COM(2024) 75 final}


Table of contents

1.Introduction

Purpose and scope of the evaluation    

2.What was the expected outcome of the intervention?

2.1    Description of the intervention and its objectives    

2.2    Points of comparison    

3.How has the situation evolved over the evaluation period?

Current state of play    

4.Evaluation findings (analytical part)

4.1.To what extent was the intervention successful and why?

4.1.1. Coherence    

4.1.2. Effectiveness    

4.1.2.1 Governance and organisational structure of Frontex    

4.1.2.2 Operations    

4.1.2.3. Return    

4.1.2.4. Situational awareness    

4.1.2.5. Capability development    

4.1.2.6. Cooperation with EU institutions, agencies and third countries    

4.1.2.7. Fundamental Rights    

4.1.3. Efficiency    

4.1.3.1. Use of human and financial resources by Frontex    

4.1.3.2. Costs and benefits generated by the EBCG Regulation    

4.1.4. Standing Corps    

4.2.How did the EU intervention make a difference and to whom?

4.3.Is the intervention still relevant?

5.What are the conclusions and lessons learned?

Annex I: Procedural Information

Annex II. Methodology and Analytical models used

Annex III. Evaluation matrix and, where relevant, Details on answers to the evaluation questions (by criterion)

Annex III.A Evaluation of the ebcg regulation, Details on answers to the evaluation questions

Annex III.B Review of the standing corps, Details on answers to the review questions

Annex IV. Overview of benefits and costs

Annex V. Stakeholders consultation - Synopsis report



Glossary

Term or acronym

Meaning or definition

ALDO

Advanced Level Document Officer

BMVI

Border Management and Visa Policy Instrument

CEPOL

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training

CF

Frontex’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights Matters

CIRAM

Common Integrated Risk Analysis Model

CSDP

Common Security and Defence Policy

CVAM

Common Vulnerability Assessment Methodology

DCAF

Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance

DPO

Data Protection Officer

EBCG

European Border and Coast Guard

ECA

European Court of Auditors

ECRIS-TCN

European Criminal Records Information System – Third Country National

ED

Executive Director

EDPS

European Data Protection Supervisor

EEAS

European External Action Service

EES

Entry/Exit System

EFCA

European Fisheries Control Agency

EIBM

European Integrated Border Management

EMSA

European Maritime Safety Agency

EP

European Parliament

EPPO

European Public Prosecutor’s Office

ETIAS

European Travel Information and Authorisation System

EUAA

European Union Agency for Asylum

Eu-LISA

European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom Security and Justice

EURLO

European Return Liaison Officer

Eurodac

European Dactyloscopy database

EUROPOL

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation

FADO

False and Authentic Documents Online

FAR

Frontex Application for Return

FRESO

Frontex Return Escort and Support Officer

FRA

Fundamental Rights Agency

FRM

Fundamental Rights Monitor

FRO

Fundamental Rights Officer

FSWG

Frontex Scrutiny Working Group

IAC

Internal Audit Capability

ICF study

Study to support the evaluation of the EBCG Regulation and review of the Standing Corps – Final report (2023)

ICMPD

International Centre for Migration Policy Development

ILO

International Labour Organisation

IPCR

Integrated Political Crisis Response

IRMA

Integrated Return Management Application

ISAA

Integrated Situation Awareness and Analysis on the Migration Refugee Situation

ISF

Internal Security Fund

ISG

Inter-Service Group

JO

Joint Operation

JRO

Joint Return Operation

JRS

Joint Integration Services

KPI

Key Performance Indicator

LIBE

European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

MARCOM

Allied Maritime Command

MB

Management Board

MFF

Multiannual Financial Framework

MS

Member State

NATO

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

NGO

Non-Governmental Organisation

OLAF

European Anti-Fraud Office

RBI

Rapid Border Intervention

RCC

Rescue Coordination Centre

RECAMAS

Return Case Management System

SAC

Schengen Associated Countries

SAR

Search and Rescue

SatCen

EU Satellite Centre

SC

Standing Corps

SCIFA

Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum

SCO

Standing Corps Officer

SIR

Serious Incident Report

SIS

Schengen Information System

SOP

Standard Operation Procedure

SPD

Single Programming Document

SRA

Strategic Risk Analysis

TEP

Technical Equipment Pool

TFEU

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

TO-EIBM

Technical and Operational Strategy on European Integrated Border Management

ToR

Terms of Reference

VIS

Visa Information System

WCO

World Customs Organisation

1.Introduction

Purpose and scope of the evaluation

In late June 2022, the European Commission launched the evaluation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG Regulation) 1 to analyse its implementation according to the specific criteria set out in the Commission’s Better Regulation Guidelines, namely effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value. 2 The evaluation also analyses the scope and content of the EBCG Regulation and the state of implementation of the Regulation’s provisions. Beside the specific criteria listed above, the evaluation is subdivided in the following main thematic areas: coherence, governance and organisational structure, operations, return, situational awareness, capability development, cooperation with EU institutions, agencies, international organisations and third countries, fundamental rights, use of human and financial resources, costs and benefits generated by the EBCG Regulation, and the Standing Corps. The evaluation was in part informed by an external study 3 .

Article 121 of the EBCG Regulation requires the Commission to carry out an evaluation of the Regulation by 5 December 2023 and every four years thereafter. The Commission is also required to report to the European Parliament (EP), the Council and the Management Board (MB) of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex’ or ‘Agency’) on the findings of the evaluation. Article 121 sets the scope of the evaluation 4 .

The EBCG Regulation also calls on the Commission to carry out a review of the Standing Corps (SC) created by the 2019 EBCG Regulation. The results of the review should be presented to the EP and to the Council by 31 December 2023. Article 59 sets the scope of the review 5 . 

The findings of the review are also included in this staff working document, as the SC forms an integral part of the EBCG.

The evaluation covers the implementation of the EBCG Regulation from its entry into force in December 2019 to October 2023 6 . A wide range of stakeholders were consulted as part of the evaluation both directly by the Commission 7 and by the external contractor (ICF Consulting Services Limited  (ICF)) that carried out the study, including Member States, the EP, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and relevant EU agencies. A detailed description of the stakeholder consultation is presented in Annex I and in Annex V. In line with the Better Regulation Guidelines, an Inter-Service Group (ISG) was set up within the Commission to accompany the evaluation process. 

The evaluation analyses whether the EBCG Regulation was successful in applying the effectiveness, efficiency, and coherence criteria. This part includes an analysis of the legal coherence and policy framework governing Frontex and the EBCG. The findings on effectiveness are divided into the key thematic areas.

Furthermore, the evaluation analyses the relevance and EU added value criteria, by assessing to what extent the new mandate of the Agency, introduced in 2019, has contributed to achieving the objectives of the EBCG as a whole, and to what extent it has supported Member States in implementing effective border management in full respect of fundamental rights and contributed to increase the efficiency of the Union’s return policy. Additionally, this section evaluates whether the objectives of the EBCG could have been achieved sufficiently by Member States acting alone.

Finally, the evaluation looks at the relevance of the EBCG Regulation in the context of current and emerging needs and challenges at EU external borders. This includes assessing the relevance of the EBCG Regulation in terms of its overall scope and objectives, as well as the relevance of Frontex’s tasks prescribed in the Regulation.

The external study was conducted through a mixed methods approach 8 and was informed by the triangulation of a variety of sources. A range of methodological tools and techniques were used. For more details on the methodology please see Annex II.

The evaluation takes stock of the state of play in the implementation of the EBCG Regulation and identifies any inconsistencies in the legislative framework or gaps in the implementation, to feed into the future work of the Commission, Frontex, and Member States.

The limitation of this evaluation and of the review of the SC is that the implementation of the EBCG Regulation is still ongoing and will only be completed in 2027. Accordingly, the implementation of a number of key elements of the Regulation (e.g. integrated capability planning, the setting-up of the SC, European integrated border management (EIBM)) is a work in progress. While this situation does not call into question the validity of the findings presented in the document, it sets a clear limitation to the conclusions that can be drawn with respect to the need to propose changes to the legislation.

Finally, as the vast majority of the provisions of the EBCG Regulation regulate Frontex, this evaluation primarily focuses on analysing the functioning of, and the results achieved by, the Agency, including its objectives, mandate, resources, and tasks. At the same time, the evaluation also considers the EBCG as a whole, in particular in the context of EIBM and the cooperation between Member States and the Agency.

2.What was the expected outcome of the intervention?

2.1 Description of the intervention and its objectives

Established by Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004 9 , the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union – as it was called at the time - took up its responsibilities on 1 May 2005. The Agency was established to improve the integrated management of the external borders by facilitating and rendering more effective the application of existing and future Community measures relating to the management of external borders. The Regulation was amended in 2007 and in 2011. The 2016 EBCG Regulation 10 repealed the 2007 Frontex Regulation. Two years after the entry into force of the 2016 Regulation, the Commission proposed a new Regulation to reinforce the Agency, which came into force on 4 December 2019 (current EBCG Regulation). It was adopted without conducting a prior impact assessment, largely due to the political expectation to prepare and adopt the proposal within a very short timeframe. The 2019 EBCG Regulation repealed the 2016 Regulation. Overall, the Agency progressively moved away from coordination and adopted a more operational role, eventually incorporating the EU’s first uniformed service with executive powers, the Standing Corps.

The EBCG is composed of the Agency and of the national authorities of the Member States responsible for border management, including coast guards to the extent that they carry out border control tasks, as well as national authorities responsible for return. Member States have the primary responsibility for managing their sections of the external border and are responsible for issuing return decisions, while the Agency should support the Member States in applying EU measures relating to the management of the external borders and returns 11 .

The EBCG Regulation’s general objective was to address the need for a permanent and reliable solution, by providing the Agency with the necessary capabilities to support Member States in addressing migratory challenges and potential future threats at the EU’s external borders and efficiently managing those borders, as well as to support returns in an effective manner. The Regulation significantly expanded the Agency’s mandate, including by:

Setting up the EBCG SC, comprising 10 000 staff, which is to be fully operational by 2027;

Significantly increasing the Agency’s budget to acquire, maintain and operate technical equipment (e.g. patrol cars, vessels);

Laying down the basis for improved coordination processes and mechanisms between the Agency and national authorities;

Scaling up the Agency’s support in all phases of return procedures (pre-return, i.e. identification and acquisition of travel documents, return operations, voluntary returns, post-arrival and reintegration); and

Strengthening cooperation with third countries, including through the deployment of the SC, exchange of information and facilitation in the field of returns;

The intervention logic below serves to depict the chain of expected effects associated with the EBCG Regulation, by identifying needs and objectives of the EBCG as well as input and actions to achieve the outputs, outcomes and impacts in line with the five evaluation criteria (relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency and EU added value).



Figure 1: Intervention logic of the EBCG Regulation 12