Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, provides support to EU and Schengen countries in managing the EU’s external borders and tackling cross-border crime. Thanks to the standing corps, Frontex is the home of the European Union’s first uniformed law enforcement service. It is actively engaged in operations across the EU’s external borders and beyond. 

Frontex is a hub of expertise for border control activities, sharing intelligence and knowledge with all EU Member States and neighbouring countries affected by irregular migration and cross-border crime. By leveraging its expertise and resources, Frontex has become an essential partner in the fight against transnational crime and protecting the EU's external borders.

Whenever an EU Member State requests assistance at the external borders, the agency’s highly trained standing corps officers, supported by vessels, aeroplanes and border surveillance equipment, spring into action. These officers work together to carry out essential border control operations and other security-related tasks, as well as search and rescue operations. Their presence is not just limited to Europe’s sea and land borders, but also extend to international airports.

Each operation is based on risk analysis and uniquely tailored to the circumstances identified by Frontex in its risk analysis.

Our border operation span across the European Union, from EU’s eastern borders, through the Western Balkans, down to Greece and Cyprus, as well as Italy and Spain.

The agency is active outside the EU in countries that have signed a Status Agreement with the European Commission. Frontex has operations in Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. There are also dozens of Frontex’s officers working at EU and international airports.

More than 2000 Frontex officers and staff working outside its headquarters play a crucial role in conducting border checks and registering irregular migrants. This team of experts help national authorities collect fingerprints and determine the nationality of migrants during screening interviews. Some Frontex officers collect important information about the criminal networks involved in people smuggling and trafficking.

With over 42,000 km of coastline, almost 9,000 km of land borders and around 300 international airports, Europe sees around 500 million border crossings a year. The job of managing the borders requires a clear picture of the current situation at all the EU’s external borders. Frontex helps to provide this with a 24/7 monitoring of the borders and collecting and sharing related information with authorities at the national and EU level.

Frontex also closely cooperates with customs authorities. The agency has been involved in expanding cooperation between border-control authorities and customs as well as with national and EU authorities, the Commission and European Ant-Fraud office (OLAF).

Frontex also supports EU Member States in other areas related to border control, such as training and sharing of best practices.

Where we are – our operations

Frontex operations support EU and Schengen states, as well as other countries in protecting their borders. They cover tasks related to security checks, search and rescue and detection of cross-border crime. These operations take place at Europe’s sea and land borders, as well as international airports.

The agency currently runs 19 operations at EU borders and beyond them. The biggest ones are joint operation Terra, which takes place along EU’s easter land borders, and operations covering the sea borders in the Mediterranean basin – Greece in the east, Italy in the central region, and Spain in the west.

Key areas of Frontex operations


EU’s external land borders have experienced a significant increase in irregular migratory movements in 2021. Roughly 8 000 illegal border-crossings were detected in 2021 on the Eastern land borders, over ten times more than in 2020. Joint Operation Terra was initiated as a response, taking place along these borders, covering 11 EU countries, from Finland to Greece. In total, more than 700 standing corps officers support national authorities with border management and fighting cross-border crime, focusing mainly on border surveillance, border checks and assistance in detecting fraudulent documents. They also support host countries in gathering information on people smuggling networks and migratory phenomena and identify vulnerable groups. Apart from personnel, Frontex also deploys patrol cars and thermo-vision vehicles.


Operation Poseidon covers the Greek sea borders with Turkey and the Greek islands. In 2023, the Eastern Mediterranean route continued its post-pandemic upward trend with around 60 000 detections or irregular border crossings. Frontex supports Greece with officers who perform border surveillance, assist in the identification and registration of incoming migrants, as well as debriefing and screening. The operation covers a number of aspects of cross border crime as well as several coast guard functions such as search and rescue, detection of illegal fishing and maritime pollution. Debriefing officers deployed by the agency collect intelligence about people smuggling networks operating in Turkey and migrants’ countries of origin. The agency shares this information with the Greek authorities and Europol.


Operation Themis covers the area of the Central Mediterranean Sea from waters covering flows from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Albania. In 2023, the Central Mediterranean route experienced a 50% increase in irregular border crossings compared to 2022, totalling around 158 000. It was the most active migratory route into the EU that year, accounting for two out of every five irregular crossings (41%).  Frontex supports Italy with border control, surveillance and search and rescue. Officers deployed by the agency also support the Italian authorities in the registration of the arriving migrants. The operation has an enhanced law enforcement focus, including the collection of intelligence and other steps aimed at detecting foreign fighters and other terrorist threats at the external borders. The agency shares this information with the Italian authorities and Europol.

Indalo, Minerva

Operation Indalo covers the area stretching between Spain and Morocco, known as the Western Mediterranean route. Frontex supports the Spanish national authorities with border control and surveillance, identification and registration and its ships and airplanes contribute to search and rescue operations. Our officers assist with border checks, help register migrants and collect information on criminal smuggling networks, which is shared with national authorities and Europol. They also provide support in identifying vulnerable migrants, such as victims of trafficking, and in seizing drugs, weapons and cigarettes. Frontex vessels and aircraft also assist the Spanish authorities to disrupt the drug smuggling operations. During the summer period, when the migratory pressure is higher, Frontex sends additional support to Spain, in the framework of joint operation Minerva.

Western Balkans

Several Frontex land and sea operations take place in the area of Western Balkans (in Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia). In 2023, the Western Balkan was second most active migratory route into the EU, accounting for 26% irregular crossings. Frontex assists the EU and non-EU countries in addressing high migratory pressure and contribute to the detection of cross-border crime. The agency deploys specialised officers, who assist the national authorities in the detection of forged documents, stolen cars, illegal drugs and weapons, as well as border surveillance vehicles and other equipment.


Joint Operation Moldova focuses on supporting the Moldovan authorities in control of illegal immigration flows and tackling cross-border crime. Frontex standing corps officers assist Moldova in processing the massive number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and crossing the border with Moldova. They include border control officers and document experts.

Cyprus, Canary Islands, and the Channel

Cyprus: Frontex standing corps officers support the Cypriot authorities in the identification and screening of migrants arriving on the island, gathering information on people-smuggling networks, and in the area of returns. Frontex return experts work at the Larnaca airport to assist with return procedures and operations. Frontex also sends return counsellors to Cyprus whose role is to inform migrants about the possibilities to go back to their home countries voluntarily.

Canary Islands: In 2023, the Western African route marked its highest annual figure to date, with over 40 000 incidents of irregular border crossings. Frontex provides assistance to Spain in the region of the Canary Islands, supporting migration management, information and intelligence gathering and to tackle cross-border crime.

The Channel: Frontex deploys a plane to the Channel and North Sea coastal region in response to the increased migratory pressure in the area. The aim of the operation on the coastline is to prevent the rising number of sea crossings.

Multipurpose support

At sea, Frontex is also involved in the European cooperation on coast guard functions in close cooperation with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). Their aim is to expand the cooperation on coast guard functions including search and rescue, border control, maritime safety and security, fisheries control, or environmental protection. The collaboration is already well established within Frontex joint operations at sea