Frontex issued its 2010 Work Programme some time in late 2009. I have not taken the time to closely read the full 90 page document, but it is worth noting that Frontex sea operations continue to constitute the largest share of the Frontex operational budget, over 26.5 M €. Due to delayed payments from member states, Frontex is planning on cutting its sea operation budget by 9.7 M € in 2010.
Here are some excerpts from the Programme for Work relevant to sea operations:
“Executive Summary – Frontex’ Programme of Work 2010, as the output of a cyclical planning process, is the operative plan of the Agency to be used as reference for the governance process of assessing and evaluating operational activities carried out during 2010. Frontex’ Programme of Work also seeks to ensure the highest possible level of transparency towards the citizen of the European Union. [***]
Sea Borders has the biggest share of the budget for operational activities: 26.5 M €. This is a decrease of 9.7 M €. Based on experiences from 2007 and 2008 the budget allocated to Sea Borders has been reduced as payments have been lagging seriously behind and it seems logical that the level of ambition has to be (at least temporarily) adjusted downward. However, the presently foreseen budget does give sufficient room for 7 to 9 projects within the EPN European Patrols Network and 6-7 joint operations in different geographical areas to decrease the illegal immigration flows and to detect facilitators (26.3 M €). Other activities carried out by Sea Borders will be:
– Improved working conditions and improved operational value of interrogation experts (0.1 M €);
– Improved level of awareness in ICCs and regional centers during JOs. (0.1 M €). [***]”
“1.6. Outlook for the situation at the external borders in 2010
General trends – [***] In May 2009 Libya agreed to direct repatriation of illegal migrants, increasing in the process the deterrent effect of Frontex coordinated Joint Operations in the area. Likewise, Joint Operation Poseidon 2009 has introduced pilot measures to gauge the magnitude of the phenomenon of nationality swapping. When extended and systematized, this measure will facilitate return, determination of illegal migration routes correctly and spotting any displacement in a more timely manner. [***]”
“External maritime borders of the Member States – With significantly lower number of migrants departing from Libya and a decreasing trend of arrivals in the Canary Islands, the relative importance of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and possibly Egypt as departure points is likely to grow throughout 2009 and 2010. Efforts by authorities there against illegal migration will be crucial for limiting the flow towards Italy and Spain. Gambia is expected to take over from Senegal the role of a major embarkation point on the West African coast. That said, in absolute numbers the Aegean Sea (at the border between Turkey and Greece) is expected to remain the main entry point at external sea borders in 2010 should cooperation with Turkey continue to be limited. With the strengthening of the southern EU maritime borders, migrants who initially considered sea crossing might opt for alternative way of entry. One of them might be the use of air borders, either with forged documents or after obtaining visa on false pretence. At the moment, such a shift has not yet been detected and the risk is considered rather low for 2010, but the situation at the air border should nevertheless continue to be monitored with vigilance. [***]”
“1.7.1. Priority locations by border type
(1) At the external sea borders, operational cooperation should continue to focus on the southern maritime areas where large number of illegal migrants have been detected and where migrants’ life is most at risk, namely the maritime areas leading to: the Canary Islands, the Spanish south-eastern Mediterranean coast, the Island of Lampedusa, Malta—taking into account possible displacement to Sicily and/or Crete—, Sardinia and the Greek Islands close to the Turkish coasts (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Patmos, Leros and Kos).
Even though decreases detections of illegal border crossing have been reported during the first semester 2009 on the West African and Central Mediterranean routes, operational cooperation should continue to include these areas, on the one hand because the decrease might only be temporary, and on the other because Frontex coordinated Joint Operations in these areas as one factor have contributed to the decrease. [***]”
“22.214.171.124. Recommendations for operational cooperation at the sea borders
(18) All efforts, from diplomatic to technical ones, should continue to be explored to break the deadlock situation of illegal migrants, as advised by facilitators, purposely turning sea surveillance patrols into rescue operations, thereby using surveillance measures as part of their modus operandi. As of mid-2009, such situation was still prevailing in the Aegean Sea.
(19) Joint Operations at the sea borders should aim at developing a permanent linguistic expertise pool, combined with debriefing techniques. Alternatively, language expertise could be outsourced to vetted private sector.
(20) At the sea borders where migrants arrive in big groups, special attention should be given to the rapid identification of victims of THB, especially women and children, with a view to gaining information leading to the identification and prosecution of the traffickers. In this process victim protection should be paramount. [***]”
Click here for a link to the full document. Note that the document is 90 pages in length but for some reason the 90 page document available at this link is in triplicate, i.e. it is 270 pages in length. But it is the same 90 page document thrice.
Click here for a link to Slides used by Frontex to summarize some aspects of the Programme.