How we work

Operational cycle

The agency sends its standing corps officers to areas at the EU’s external where EU and Schengen-area countries need support. Frontex also has officers in third countries that have signed a Status Agreement with the European Commission. 

Frontex provides technical and operational assistance through joint operations and rapid border interventions, as well as technical and operational assistance in the support of search and rescue operations at sea.


Frontex joint operations are planned and developed on the basis of an Annual Risk Analysis Reports which analyses the likely future risk of irregular migration and cross-border crime along the EU external border. During the annual meetings with Member States the agency prioritises the proposed joint operations on the basis of their importance and the resources available in order to ensure an effective response.

Consultation with Member States 

Together with the host country Frontex makes an assessment of the number of officers with specific expertise and the quantity and type of technical equipment required. Frontex then directs a request to all Member States and Schengen Associated Countries for the necessary officers, clearly specifying their required profiles (including document experts, border checks, surveillance experts, dog handlers) as well as specific equipment needed for the operation (such as helicopters, planes, patrol cars, thermo-vision equipment, heart-beat detectors). Those countries then decide on the level of contribution they can make to the joint operation.

Operational Plan 

This document clearly defines the aim of each joint operation, where it is to take place and the quantities and types of technical equipment and officers to take part. Many operations require the deployment of debriefing officers, who conduct interviews with migrants with the purpose of gathering information about people-smuggling networks. In addition, cultural mediators and interpreters enable migrants to express themselves in their own languages. The operational plan also clearly states the rules of engagement for officers taking part in the operation.


At this stage, standing corps officers and technical equipment are deployed to the operational area to carry out their duties according to the operational plan. The deployed standing corps officers work under the command and control of the authorities of the country hosting the operation.