On October 7th, Montenegro and the European Union signed an agreement on border management between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and Montenegro. Following this agreement, Frontex will now be able to assist Montenegro in border management. They will be able to execute joint operations as well as deploy teams in the border between Montenegro and the EU. The goal of the agreement is to tackle illegal immigration and improve security.
According to the European Council, the agreement was signed on behalf of the EU by Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior of Finland and President of the Council and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and on behalf of Montenegro by Minister of the Interior, Mevludin Nuhodžić.
Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, said "The objective of this agreement is to allow Frontex to coordinate operational cooperation between EU Member states and Montenegro on the management of the borders that the European Union and Montenegro have in common."
The minister added, "The signing of this agreement is yet another demonstration of the deepening and expanding cooperation with Montenegro. It will bring benefits for both parties, in particular in enhancing border management activities."
Increased and heightened cooperation between Frontex and other third countries will contribute to dealing with illegal immigration. Furthermore, it will help in enhancing security at the EU’s external borders.
The European Parliament will revise the agreement and give its consent to move forward with it.
Security Remains a Priority for the EU
The European Union is focused on prioritizing the security of the region. In recent years, it has taken several actions to enhance border security. The agreement between Montenegro and the EU is the second one to take place. In October 2018, Albania signed a similar agreement with the EU.
Montenegro and the EU began negotiations on July 5th, 2018, and the draft status agreement was introduced by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Montenegro Interior Minister Mevludin Nuhodžić in February 2019. After this, the European Council authorized the signature of the agreement on March 19th this year. Agreements of this same nature started with North Macedonia on July, 2018; Serbia on September 2018; and Bosnia and Herzegovina on January, 2019. However, they are still to be finalized.
According to the European Council, "Frontex launched the first-ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country in Albania on 22 May this year." Frontex is allowed to execute deployments and joint operations on territories of neighboring non-EU countries. Nonetheless, an agreement must first be signed between the EU and the neighboring country.
Following a proposal made by the European Commission earlier this year, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to reinforce the EU’s shared external border and the Coast Guard. It is essential for the EU to work closely with non-EU countries to manage crime and illegal immigration.
As the EU focuses on working with neighboring countries, it has already invested in the development of a travel electronic authorization system for third country nationals. ETIAS (Electronic Travel and Information Authorization System) is expected to contribute greatly to strengthening the security of the EU’s external borders.
There are already several EU information systems that contribute to security, including: the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS), Europol, and the Eurodac database. However, ETIAS will become a mandatory travel authorization for nationals of over 60 countries. At this time, travelers from 62 countries are able to visit the Schengen Area without a visa or a travel authorization.
ETIAS would contribute to the security of EU citizens by identifying people who may pose a threat or committed a fraud (stolen or falsified a passport for example). After an applicant submits their ETIAS application, their data will be screened against security databases.
The European Union has an extensive agenda on security. The region faces several new and complex security threats. Therefore, it has become fundamental to develop new systems and work on closer cooperation at many different levels. One way is to cooperate with neighboring countries, another is to implement ETIAS. Threats are becoming more varied and international and they require a coordinated response.