Regulation 2019/1896 broadens the scope of status agreements and makes adjustments that already require changes to the Commission`s existing standard agreements and status agreements. It probably helps to bring the legal framework of Frontex`s extraterritorial activities closer to EU legislation and fundamental rights standards. In any event, the recent revision of Frontex`s mandate is likely to lead to more status agreements with third countries. One of the recurring concerns in terms of operational cooperation in third countries, on the basis of current and future status agreements, is to ensure the necessary compliance with EU law and fundamental rights standards. Strengthening operational cooperation between priority third countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will help improve the management of irregular migration, strengthen security at the EU`s external borders and strengthen the Agency`s capacity to act in its immediate vicinity. The status agreement with Albania is another step towards the full implementation of the Agency. The agreements reached so far on frontex`s status closely follow the Commission`s model of agreement. In addition to joint operations and rapid border interventions within the framework of operational cooperation at external borders, they also include return-to-the-country measures. The status agreements follow the more minimalist approach of the operational plan in the Commission`s model agreement, because, unlike the Frontex regulation, they do not explicitly contain some important elements concerning the mandatory elements of the plan (for example. B the duration of the operation, the geographical area, the procedures for reporting immediate incidents).
One of the most sensitive aspects addressed in the status agreements is the exercise of executive powers, including the use of force by team members. It is interesting to note that only the agreement with Albania contains a definition of executive powers as “the powers necessary to carry out the tasks necessary for border controls and return operations that are (…) joint action as part of the operational plan” (Article 2, paragraph 12). The press release, which announces the first joint frontex operation in Albania, indicates that these executive powers may, for example, concern the organisation of border controls and the prevention of unauthorized entry. All other agreements contain a fairly vague horizontal provision that provides that all team members are empowered to “perform the tasks and exercise the executive powers necessary for border and return operations.” It would therefore be reasonable for the tasks and executive powers of team members to be clearly and comprehensively defined in the operational plan of each action. The general principles of the exercise of competence by team members include (1) compliance with the laws of the third country and (2) action under the authority and in the presence of competent staff from third countries.