EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

European Agency for the Management of External Borders — Frontex


Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders



It establishes Frontex, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.

Regulation (EU) No 1168/2011 amends the original act to improve the integrated management of the EU’s external borders and to enhance cooperation between national border guard authorities.

A further amendment, Regulation (EU) No 656/2014, lays down rules for the surveillance of the EU’s external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation managed by Frontex.



Frontex’s main tasks are:

  • planning and coordinating joint operations and rapid border interventions conducted by the Agency using EU countries’ staff and equipment at sea, land and air external borders;
  • coordinating joint return operations of foreign nationals staying illegally in the EU and Schengen countries* and refusing to leave voluntarily;
  • drawing up common training standards and tools for national border guards;
  • carrying out risk analyses (with a view to improving the integrated management of the EU’s external borders);
  • assisting Schengen countries requiring increased technical and operational assistance at external borders (e.g. humanitarian emergencies and rescue at sea or when they face disproportionate pressures on their borders);
  • developing a rapid response capability involving EU Border Guard Teams (see below), as well as a database of available equipment and resources to be deployed in the event of a crisis situation.


Frontex can buy/lease its own equipment for border control (cars, vessels, helicopters, etc.) or jointly buy it with EU countries.

Operational plan

An operational plan (drawn up prior to joint operations, rapid border interventions and pilot projects) should include all aspects of the given activity, such as:

  • tasks and responsibilities,
  • composition of the teams,
  • command and control arrangements (e.g. names and ranks of host country’s border guards responsible for cooperating with Frontex and with guest officers from other EU countries working on joint operations),
  • evaluation and incident reporting, and the applicable jurisdiction (e.g. in the event of sea operations), etc.

EU Border Guard Teams

European Border Guard Teams are deployed in joint operations, rapid border interventions and pilot projects coordinated by Frontex.

They are composed of border guards from the EU countries, experts in different areas of border management, including:

  • border checks;
  • land and sea border surveillance;
  • identification of false documents specialists; and
  • identification of irregular migrants’ nationalities.


Frontex may cooperate with Europol, the European Asylum Support Office, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, non-EU country authorities and international organisations such as, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organisation for Migration (IOM).


In 2013, under a separate regulation, the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) became operational. This information-exchange framework is designed to improve the management of the EU’s external borders. It aims to support EU countries by:

  • increasing their awareness and reaction capability in combating cross-border crime;
  • tackling irregular migration; and
  • preventing the loss of migrants’ lives at sea.

Frontex plays an important role in the compilation and analysis of the ‘European situational picture’, a review of the events that have recently taken place at the borders of certain EU countries and that could help detect changing routes or new methods used by criminal networks.


It applies from 1 May 2005.


Frontex became operational in 2005. It is based in Warsaw, Poland.

In the context of the European Agenda on Migration, in December 2015, the European Commission issued a proposal to create a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. This would be built from Frontex and the EU countries’ authorities responsible for border management and would permit a more integrated management of the EU’s external borders.


* Schengen countries: European countries that have signed an agreement to remove border controls and allow free movement of all nationals of the signatory countries, other EU countries and some non-EU countries.

The Schengen countries are as follows: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 of 26 October 2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (OJ L 349, 25.11.2004, pp. 1-11).

Successive amendments to Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) (OJ L 295, 6.11.2013, pp. 11-26).

last update 02.05.2016