The European Council has approved the opening of negotiations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia in order to strengthen the borders and further expand the Frontex cooperation.
According to a press release by the EU Council, similar agreements were previously concluded with Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, throughout which, Frontex was able to carry out joint operations and deploy guards in the regions bordering the EU. A similar agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has been negotiated but hasn’t been signed yet, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Vit Rakusan, the Interior Minister of Czechia, which is the EU’s presidency holder, migration challenges in the Western Balkans route include also the deployment of Frontex, not just the EU borders.
“Cooperation with our partners, including through the deployment of Frontex staff, is essential to detect and block irregular migration movements early on. This will improve the protection of our EU external borders and contribute to efforts by countries in the Western Balkans to stop smugglers from using their territories as transit stages,” he said.
Agreements with the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, enable the Agency to assist these countries to improve the management of migratory flows, combat illegal immigration and address cross-border crime, in addition to border checks and registration.
Initially, such agreements for improving border management cooperation were signed with Albania in 2019, which resulted in Frontex launching its first operation on the neighbouring non-EU country territory.
The same agreements were concluded with Serbia and Montenegro in 2021 while with Bosnia and Herzegovina, this agreement was under negotiation.
The new agreements, which aim at strengthening the cooperation with Frontex are more than welcome, considering the increasing numbers of migrants reaching the EU throughout the migratory route in this region.
According to Frontex, 61 per cent of all illegal border crossings reported in October were recorded in the Western Balkan route, making it the most affected route by such illegalities. In addition, the number of detections has increased by three times in October, compared to the same time in the previous year.
“The high number of crossings can be attributed to repeated attempts to cross the border by migrants already present in the Western Balkans, but also to persons abusing visa-free access to the region,” Frontex pointed out in a press release.
The majority of migrants reaching the EU by this route came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Burundi. In addition, Serbia recently introduced a visa regime for citizens of Burundi in an effort to reduce the illegal migration that was occurring.
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