EU signs milestone border agreement with Albania

A new agreement on border management cooperation has been signed between Albania and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

“A Europe that protects is a Europe that works together with partner countries in its neighbourhood and beyond,” said EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos. “This agreement with Albania – the first of this kind with a third country – is a milestone in the EU’s external cooperation on border management.”

Pursuant to the agreement, Frontex will be able to coordinate operational cooperation between Albania and EU member states related to management of the EU’s external borders. The agreement, furthermore, enables Frontex to take three categories of action, namely, a joint operation, a rapid border intervention and a return operation, at the external borders of the EU involving one or more neighbouring member states and Albania.

Joint operations are aimed at combatting irregular migration or cross-border criminal activities as well as provision of technical and operational assistance. Rapid border interventions will allow the EUto  quickly respond to a situation of specific and disproportionate challenges at the borders of Albania neighbouring an EU member state for a limited period of time. As part of the return operations, member states from which migrants will be returned voluntarily or on an enforced basis will provide technical and operational assistance to Albania. According to the agreement, for each joint operation or rapid border intervention an operational plan will be agreed between Frontex and Albania.

In order for the agreement to come into effect it will need to be ratified by the European Parliament.