Frontex knows what’s going on at Europe’s borders: where the threats are, how to react, and where they’re likely to emerge next. Our 24/7 monitoring of the situation on the border and beyond, combined with comprehensive risk analysis, gives us a Europe-wide view of border control and migration management. Frontex helps spot potential weak points and strengthen Europe’s resilience.
We do this by using our own surveillance assets and by receiving, integrating, analysing and disseminating intelligence from a wealth of sources, including national border guard authorities. We use this Europe-wide picture to coordinate the response to a variety of threats, including smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism.
To take just one example: our Maritime Aerial Surveillance (MAS) has become an integral part of our operations, and a permanent service offered to national authorities. MAS uses surveillance airplanes and drones that stream video and other data from EU and Schengen external borders directly to our headquarters in Warsaw and to national and European authorities, allowing for real-time monitoring.
At the European Monitoring Room in Warsaw, experts from a variety of countries work together to monitor the incoming information. Frontex planes routinely detect boats in distress at sea, providing quick reaction and coordination that allows national authorities to launch rescue missions.
We also work to assess risks at the borders and then to reduce vulnerability to challenges and support national authorities in their response. Risk analysis guides all Frontex activities, helping us decide where our human and technical resources should be deployed. Frontex also supports the Member States by providing remote command and control capacity and crisis management support
Eurosur is the information-exchange
framework designed to improve the management of Europe’s external borders. It
aims to support Member States by increasing their situational awareness and
reaction capability in combating cross-border crime, tackling irregular migration
and preventing loss of migrant lives at sea.
The backbone of Eurosur is a network of
National Coordination Centres (NCCs). Each member state establishes an NCC,
which groups the authorities responsible for border control in a given member
state. The main role of the NCC is to coordinate the border surveillance
activities on national level and serve as a hub for the exchange of
The NCCs collect local and national
information about what takes place at the border, including illegal border
crossings and criminal activity. The data processed by the NCC personnel
creates a national situational picture. The NCCs are also responsible for
sharing the relevant information with other member states and Frontex. Based on
this input and information from other sources, Frontex creates the European
situational picture and the common pre-frontier intelligence picture (focused
on areas beyond the Schengen Area and EU borders).
The two pictures created by Frontex contain
information on the events that recently took place at the borders, operational
activities and analysis. These are created and maintained by Frontex and shared
with Member States through the NCC network. None of the information currently
exchanged within Eurosur contains personal data.
In addition to maintaining and sharing the
situational pictures, Frontex also provides information collected from
satellites and other surveillance tools at the European level. Member states
can use such information to further improve their situational awareness. The
collection of these services, called Eurosur Fusion Services, facilitates
access to state of the art technologies, help reduce the duplication of efforts
by member states and reduces costs.
The Eurosur Fusion Services include
automated vessel tracking and detection capabilities, software functionalities
allowing complex calculations for detecting anomalies and predicting vessel
positions, as well as precise weather and oceanographic forecasts. Fusion
Services use optical and radar satellite technology to locate vessels suspected
to be engaged in people smuggling that often puts the lives of migrants in
danger. Many of the services are delivered in cooperation with the European
Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the EU Satellite Centre (SatCen).
Besides close-to-real-time services,
Frontex also makes available a wide range of analytical products tailored for
operational use within Eurosur.
Eurosur goes beyond situational awareness
by indicating the adequate level of operational reaction at different border
sections. For this purpose, Member States have divided their external land and
sea borders into sections. Each of this border sections is attributed an impact
level — low, medium or high — which refer to the security of a given border
section assessed against identified risk levels for illegal border crossing or
cross-border crime. Measures to be taken to reduce the risks remain the
responsibility of individual Member States, although in the case of “high
impact level” border areas they may request operational assistance from Frontex
in the form of prioritised spatial services, a joint operation or rapid
The Eurosur Regulation contains a range of
fundamental rights safeguards, including the principles of data protection and
non-refoulement, or the practice of not forcing migrants to return to a state
where they may be subject to persecution.