New operational year begins


As we start a new operational year today, it’s not just another date on the calendar for Frontex. It’s a moment that symbolises a fresh start for our dedicated team of nearly 2 500 officers, poised to commence their duties across Europe and beyond. Our diverse team, including border surveillance officers, advanced-level document officers, cross-border and motor-vehicle crime detection experts, and more, stand ready to address the dynamic challenges at the EU's border crossings, ports, and airports.

These skilled professionals are the backbone of our operations, responding daily to the evolving needs at critical points of entry into the EU. Their adaptability and expertise are crucial, especially when new migratory routes or emerging issues call for our immediate attention and action. Frontex’s role in reinforcing such hotspots is essential, ensuring enhanced surveillance activities and diligent monitoring.

Reflecting on the past year, we take pride in the 24 operations that were successfully executed by Frontex. Nearly all of these operations are set to continue into this year, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to safeguarding the EU's borders while upholding our humanitarian responsibilities.

As Frontex embarks on this new operational year, we remain steadfast in our mission – to be a responsive and reliable partner in managing the EU's external borders and ensuring the safety and security of all.

Opening ceremony of the joint operation in Moldova
Opening ceremony of the joint operation in Moldova

How does Frontex operations make a difference?

Frontex operations significantly contribute to the stability and security of Europe's borders. When an EU member state needs help at its external borders, Frontex can dispatch specialised EU border guards to reinforce the national forces. A recent example is Finland, which sought Frontex’s support at its border with Russia.

Our operations are tailored yearly to meet the current needs and risks, in harmony with the respective national authorities. The scope of these operations spans most of the EU’s external borders, and importantly, extends to non-EU countries like Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, and North Macedonia. The foundation of these operations in non-EU countries lies in carefully crafted working arrangements and status agreements. These enable Frontex staff to operate alongside national guards under similar conditions. Our presence outside the EU is not only key to building strong partnerships with countries along the migratory routes, but also allows for the exchange of best practices and values indispensable in the fight against cross-border crime.

The general operational aim is universal: officers deployed in various operations help with border checks and control, including crime prevention and detection. Depending on the needs in the specific operational area, they may collect operational information or be involved in monitoring of border areas and initiate search and rescue operations. They may support other border activities, such as fingerprinting, document checks and registration of migrants and/or participate in national coast guard functions and facilitate exchange with other European or international bodies with similar tasks and missions.

Frontex plays a pivotal role in enhancing border security during specific events or periods when specialised services are crucial. For instance, during the summer season, which sees increased tourist movements, Frontex's joint operation Minerva in Spain is instrumental in managing the influx effectively. Similarly, in anticipation of the 2024 Olympic Games in France, Frontex will be on hand to provide essential support, ensuring that these significant events are both safe and secure for all involved.

2024 with new risk analysis

Among our largest joint operations, Terra stands out for its extensive coverage. It takes place along the EU's external land borders, including the Western Balkans, Southeastern, Eastern, and Northeastern border regions. Terra currently deploys over 700 officers along a significant North-South land corridor of the EU. Meanwhile, Operation Poseidon monitors the Greek maritime borders with Turkey and the surrounding Greek islands. It includes 400 guards working across various Greek islands to monitor and respond to the evolving maritime routes used by smugglers to enter Europe.

There are also Frontex operations taking place at other key migration routes in the Central and Western Mediterranean regions, supporting Italy and Spain in patrolling the seas and dealing with the arriving irregular migrants.

As the global air-passenger traffic reaches its pre-Covid levels, over 100 officers will take part in the Frontex joint operation Focal Points Air at European airports. Their efforts will focus on document fraud and other related criminal activities.

In total, in 2024, Frontex will run 19 joint operations with 300 deployment locations.

Operational values and standards

At the heart of Frontex is the unwavering commitment to fundamental rights, a cornerstone of European values. This commitment is exemplified by the work of the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office. Tasked with the critical role of monitoring operational activities, this office conducts spot checks to ensure that all border guards consistently adhere to the highest standards of equality and integrity. These checks are instrumental in identifying and addressing any potential violations at the very locations where our officers are working. Serving under Frontex and, by extension, representing the European Union, our officers embody our ethical standards. They pledge to uphold the agency’s code of conduct, which places paramount importance on treating each individual they encounter with the utmost courtesy, respect, and consideration. This approach reflects our deep-seated commitment to uphold the values that define us as Europeans.

New challenges result in new solutions

With the ambitious goal of expanding our standing corps to 10 000 uniformed border guards by 2027, it’s clear that adapting our hierarchical chain and leadership culture is not just a necessity but a strategic imperative.

The year 2024 marks a significant milestone in this journey of transformation. It will be the inaugural operational year for our new command structure, a direct result of the lessons learned and successes achieved in our pilot project in Romania. This new structure is a proactive and practical response to the evolving circumstances and challenges we face.

On the very first day of this operational year, our agency is set to deploy its first contingent, strategically positioned to cover key areas including Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Georgia. This deployment points to our commitment to being at the forefront of managing Europe's borders effectively and sensitively.

This restructured command model, with its more autonomous command structures, is tailored to provide enhanced operational response across well-defined areas. It represents a significant shift towards greater efficiency and flexibility, enabling Frontex commanders to swiftly and effectively respond to local and regional requirements.

This change is more than structural; it embodies our dedication to improving cooperation with national authorities, ensuring a seamless integration of efforts and resources. It also empowers our commanders with the agility and authority needed to make critical decisions on the ground, ensuring that our response is as dynamic and adaptive as the scenarios we face.

In essence, this evolution in our operational framework is not just an organisational change. It reflects our commitment to safeguarding Europe's borders while upholding the highest standards of integrity and respect for human rights. As Frontex grows, so does our capability to respond effectively to the complex challenges of border management, always in alignment with European values and principles.