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Frontex: how do we arrive at the figure of 10.000 people promised by the European Council

(B2) At the last summit in Brussels on June 28 and 29, European leaders came out with a promise: the number of border and coast guards within the Frontex agency will be increased to 10.000 no longer in 2027, but for 2020 . The number is round. He is handsome. But how do we get there?

Answer: quite simply by a sleight of hand, of which only Europeans have the secret. Demonstration…

What is the current workforce?

In fact, today Frontex has around 600 people (589 to be exact according to a last count carried out in Warsaw, the agency's headquarters), including 138 national experts seconded (for a variable period of two or three years in general) . NB: let us point out that most of these personnel are used to manage all the tasks entrusted to the agency (increasing), only a few dozen are deployed or deployable in the field (generally for a fairly short period.

About 1300 personnel deployed in the field (Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, etc.). The figure varies from week to week, between 1200 and 1400 officers (1500 at the height of the crisis). These personnel are seconded by the Member States, for a variable period (one to a few weeks).

To this, we add a reserve pool of 1500 people which was created in 2015 with the establishment of the European Corps of Border Guards.

Today we already reach 3400 people (600 + 1300 + 1500).

What is the goal ?

Last May, the European Commission planned to increase the number of border guards to 10.000 personnel by 2027. A proposal made in the context of the next multiannual financial framework (MFF or MFF) for the period 2021-2027. Faced with the pressure of events, the Franco-German request (during the Meseberg declaration), the political debate at the European Council, the Commission proposed bringing this objective forward to 2020.

How do we get there in 2020?

To achieve this, we are not going to recruit hundreds of people every year.

Quite simply, we are taking up the objective set in the 2015 decision to strengthen the European border and coast guard corps (Frontex) to gradually increase it until 2020 from around 300 to 1000 people (civil servants, contract workers and experts). seconded nationals). NB: We are about halfway to the objective (around 600), which is already a good result.

Add to this, the increase in personnel deployed to go from 1500 to 2000 people on average.

And increase the reserve pool from 1500 to 7000 people. Neither seen nor known.

You arrive at 10.000 = 1000 + 2000 + 7000. It's wonderful, isn't it?

Are they permanent staff?

No. In fact, the main personnel (more than 9000) are provided by the Member States (if they have these personnel and if they want it), with the financial support of the European Union (which ensures the per diems). Simply what is planned is to gradually have half of the reserve staff (i.e. 3500) by permanent staff by 2027.

Why is it difficult to recruit?

This is expensive and is not automatically financially sustainable. But the difficulty is above all practical. First of all, with the establishment of Schengen, most national forces (border police and customs) were reduced to the strictest minimum. There is therefore no no more fat ”, as a senior police officer confided, or widely available personnel. Then, with the terrorist alert, States certainly resumed recruitment but to allocate it to the national territory. Finally, training and recruiting staff takes time.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) This provision is enshrined in a sentence in the conclusions: “ the support role played by Frontex, particularly in the context of cooperation with third countries, should be further strengthened by an increase in resources… »

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).