Fundamental rights at Frontex

The Regulation (EU) 2019/1896, under Article 110, foresees the establishment of fundamental rights monitors as statutory staff of Frontex. Deployed to the operational areas on behalf of the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), they monitor and assess the fundamental rights compliance of Frontex activities, including return operations, provide advice and assistance in this regard, while contributing to the promotion of fundamental rights as part of European integrated border management. Through their work, the monitors are a prominent element of Frontex’s fundamental rights monitoring system. As the ‘extension’ of the FRO in the field, they support the agency in upholding its fundamental rights obligations.

The monitors observe the activities undertaken by Frontex, documenting their compliance with applicable fundamental rights standards. They also monitor the procedures related to border management and returns and the environment in which those are implemented. They not only assess compliance with fundamental rights, but also play an important role in flagging challenges and risks as well as opportunities for the promotion of EU and international law. In this context, the monitors cooperate with Frontex coordinating officers, advise and assist on matters related to fundamental rights, and report to the Fundamental Rights Officer on potential concerns. They also contribute to the training on fundamental rights and assist the FRO in ensuring that Frontex operational documents align with international and European fundamental rights standards.

Frontex launched a pilot project for the period from November 2019 till June 2021, in cooperation with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to establish the function of the fundamental rights monitors. Within this framework, the FRO and FRA conducted pilot monitoring visits to operational areas to test the most effective means for monitoring and tailor the modalities of deployment, conduct and tasks of the monitors. FRA has also supported the FRO in the recruitment process of the first batch of monitors.

As of December 2022, the Fundamental Rights Office finalised the recruitment of 46 highly qualified and experienced in relevant areas fundamental rights monitors. Following their recruitment, the monitors undergo enhanced general and specialised training to enrich their expertise and to allow them to discharge their duties in accordance with the highest standards.