The Council decision on the surveillance of sea external borders has been published in the EU Official Journal: “COUNCIL DECISION of 26 April 2010 supplementing the Schengen Borders Code as regards the surveillance of the sea external borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.”
Malta has strenuously objected to certain provisions within the new rule and has said that its decision not to host Frontex’s Central Mediterranean enforcement operation, Operation Chronos, was due to the disembarkation provisions contained in the new Frontex rule. It should be noted that Malta has more recently said that its decision not to participate in Operation Chronos was due to the lack of need for the operation given the “success” of Italy’s push-back practice.
Malta’s objection to the guidelines is largely focused on the following provision in the rule for sea border operations:
2.1. The operational plan should spell out the modalities for the disembarkation of the persons intercepted or rescued, in accordance with international law and any applicable bilateral agreements. The operational plan shall not have the effect of imposing obligations on Member States not participating in the operation. Without prejudice to the responsibility of the Rescue Coordination Centre, and unless otherwise specified in the operational plan, priority should be given to disembarkation in the third country from where the ship carrying the persons departed or through the territorial waters or search and rescue region of which that ship transited and if this is not possible, priority should be given to disembarkation in the host Member State unless it is necessary to act otherwise to ensure the safety of these persons.”
Commissioner Cecilia Malmström pointed out during her recent official visit to Malta that the rule could be interpreted by the member states participating in an operation so as to provide for disembarkation of migrants at a location other than the host state.
(HT to Steve Peers (Univ. of Essex) via Bernard Ryan on Migration and Law Network list serve.)
Click here for the Council Decision.