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Cablegate: Frontex: A Primer On the Eu's Border Control Agency

VZCZCXRO3973
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHWR #0729 0821538
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231538Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3748
INFO RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0062
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS WARSAW 000729

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER KNNP KSTCPL PL
SUBJECT: FRONTEX: A PRIMER ON THE EU'S BORDER CONTROL AGENCY

1. (U) SUMMARY: Headquartered in Warsaw, the EU's external
border control agency, FRONTEX, focuses on EU-level
coordination of "intelligence driven operational cooperation"
to strengthen security at the EU's external borders. In a
meeting with Pol-Mil Officer, FRONTEX External Relations
Officer Rick Weijermans described the agency's key competency
as "risk analysis." FRONTEX is seeking cooperation with
Ukraine, but it seems limited to negotiating an agreement and
leaving the implementation to others. END SUMMARY

-------------------
Statutory Authority
-------------------

2. (U) FRONTEX opened its Warsaw headquarters in 2004, just
after Poland joined the EU, becoming the new eastern border.
EU Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 of 26 October 2004
established FRONTEX, "a European Agency for the Management of
Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member
States of the European Union," with the following
responsibilities:

(a) coordinate operational cooperation between Member States
in the field of management of external borders;

(b) assist Member States in training national border guards,
including the establishment of common training standards;

(c) carry out risk analysis;

(d) follow up on the development of research relevant for the
control and surveillance of external borders;

(e) assist Member States in the circumstances requiring
increased technical and operational assistance at external
borders;

(f) provide Members States with the necessary support in
organizing joint return operations.

-------------------
The Insider's View
-------------------

3. (U) Pol-Mil officer met with FRONTEX's Weijermans to learn
more about the organization's operations and possible areas
for cooperation. Weijermans announced a commitment to
"operational cooperation" with border guard agencies so long
as it was "intelligence driven," but was quick to distance
FRONTEX from any commando-style armed action. He highlighted
FRONTEX's niche capability - risk analysis - which he said
was at the core of the agency's flag-ship effort to stem the
flow of illegal immigrants from North Africa through the
Mediterranean by sharing intelligence on migration patterns
(not personal data) with European border guard agencies. On
operational considerations, he acknowledged that the "joint
return operations" mentioned in the Council Regulation were
really "repatriations" of illegal immigrants. In summary, he
concluded that, "We coordinate and co-finance the voluntary
participation of member states."

4. (U) Weijermans illustrated FRONTEX's evolving role by
commenting on hoped-for cooperation with Ukraine. He noted
that article 14 of the Council Regulation gave FRONTEX
authority to facilitate cooperation with "third countries,"
i.e., states that are not in the EU. He explained that the
FRONTEX management board, a committee of senior border guard
officials from participating EU member states, had approved a
proposal to negotiate a "working agreement" on border guard
cooperation with Ukraine. As required, FRONTEX had forwarded
the proposal to the EU Commission for their review.
Weijermans expected that the EU Commission would approve and
return the proposal to FRONTEX for implementation during the
first half of 2007.

------------------------------------
More "back office" than "front line"
------------------------------------

5. (U) COMMENT: Although FRONTEX has a mandate to facilitate
"operational cooperation" and the "training of national
border guards," Weijermans' comments indicate the agency
pursues these aims through research, reporting and
recommendations, rather than operations. A quick reading of
the Council Regulation founding FRONTEX, laden with terms
like "analysis" and "research," confirms this. Thus despite
expectations by some European and U.S. observers that FRONTEX
might become an operational office, it appears that, at least
for now, the agency's staff are content to take a passive,
documentary approach to their task. END COMMENT.
HILLAS

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