A strengthened European Border and Coast Guard built on trust


Managing thousands of kilometres of borders (land, sea and air) is not an easy task.  

The Technical and Operational Strategy for European Integrated Border Management towards 2027 was unanimously adopted by the Management Board to improve effectiveness. The strategy cements the shared responsibility of Member States, supported by Frontex and the European Commission.   

“With this strategy we do not solve political border management issues. We provide technical and operational solutions to reduce irregular external border activities and make it easy for all those people arriving legally”. Aija Kalnaja sums up months of hard work in getting the document approved, with a great common effort both from Frontex and all the Member States.  

Kalnaja is one of the three Frontex Deputy Executive Directors and one of the two Co-Spokespersons of the Management Board’s Working Group dedicated to European Integrated Border Management.   

“Europe is a safe haven for many people”, she continues. “They know that they will probably die if they go, but they will definitely die if they don’t. People don’t leave homes where they are happy. Criminals take advantage of human misery and desire to live better and be safe. Police officers learn quite early how to deal with this negativity and can be hardened because of that. They have to be careful not to lose sight of migrants’ humanity”.

Knowing today, anticipating tomorrow

According to Kalnaja, “we have to prepare for the future of border management. It’s not only about working for today. We have to prepare equally for the future, investing in tomorrow. If we only care about our day-to-day work and do not look into the future, we will in hindsight have failed today. Although the concept of Integrated Border Management has existed for decades, the journey we are on started in 2019 with the adoption of the first strategy, which promoted intelligence-based border management, dealing with the challenges before they arrive at the external borders. Then, later the same year, we were blessed with a new Regulation, that gave us the standing corps. And five years later, it is an established force giving the necessary operational autonomy to respond to the needs of Member States, persistently and at short notice. In addition, we now have the collective ability to wisely plan investments together, across the whole European Border and Coast Guard, based on foresight, looking both at challenges and opportunities”. 

The Strategy promotes further integration of Frontex capabilities and procedures to deliver at the external borders, in the pre-frontier area and in non-EU countries, through operations and return-related activities. “The beauty of the Strategy is that it translates our common ambition into concrete actions. Without ambition you will not achieve anything. Ambition is also related to the level of threat: war in Ukraine, Gaza-Israel conflict, instability in Africa and so on”.  

Connecting and protecting

But the Strategy is more than that. It explains the role of border management at the intersection of internal and external EU policy. Border management facilitates traders, travellers and migrants to cross legally. It also mitigates illegal activities from entering into European area. The Strategy is all about connecting the Union with the wider world and all of the involved stakeholders. At the same time, it embraces the need to protect those crossing the borders as well as protecting the area of free movement.  

Kalnaja continues: “Not everything that is in the strategy applies to everybody. If you do not have external sea borders, why would you need maritime Search and Rescue capabilities? That said, the Strategy is a one-size-fits-all, meaning that it has to have a comprehensive approach, yet acknowledge the regional specificities. We need surveillance to know what is going on the borders. But we also need intelligence to anticipate what is to come, and foresight to prepare our investments in future capabilities. And ultimately, we need to pull our collective weight in supporting the increase the effectiveness of returns.” 

So far so good, we are a team

The new strategy promotes a vision of a stronger, more resilient European Border and Coast Guard by 2027. It is rooted in trust, emphasising the efficient management of borders and the implementation of returns in an integrated manner, entirely compliant with international and European law, with full respect for fundamental rights.   

Now the journey continues, with implementation of the strategy. Frontex takes steps to ensure coherence in its own strategic and programming documents, while Member States align their national European integrated border management strategies.

Read the Strategy.